2004 Public Library Internet Survey


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Brief Description



During the months of October and November 2004, the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Oregon Library Association conducted a survey of the 139 public and volunteer libraries in Oregon. Our goal was to document the manner in which libraries are handling patron access to the Internet, how this may have changed since the last survey on this topic was conducted in 2000, and how libraries are responding to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA).





The survey questions were designed by the Intellectual Freedom Committee and based on the previous studies conducted by this committee in 1998-99 and 2000. The survey was presented as a web form using the online survey tool, Survey Monkey. A letter of introduction with the URL for the survey was emailed to the directors of the 139 public and volunteer libraries listed by the Oregon State Library in the Oregon Library Directory. In the case of several small volunteer libraries for which no email address was listed, a paper copy of the survey was mailed using the U.S. Postal Service. After the initial survey response was received, non-responding libraries were contacted by phone and the directors were interviewed. Results of the phone interviews were input to the Survey Monkey form. Result analysis was calculated by the Survey Monkey software and by members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. Comparisons between the 2004 data and earlier data were analyzed by committee members.





The Internet has become a standard research tool in libraries. All publicly funded libraries in the state of Oregon provide their patrons with access to the Internet, and most have developed policies governing its use. Very few Oregon libraries utilize federal funds that require compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act. However, libraries have developed practices that reflect the values of their communities and mre than half of the libraries in the state offer some degree of filtering. Libraries have responded to concerns voiced by their patrons in ways that are as individual as the towns and cities where the libraries are located. Most importantly, only a few libraries reported any patron dissatisfaction with their policies regarding the internet, and these libraries have responded by adapting their practices, leaving their patrons pleased with the results.