Internet Access in Massachusetts Public Libraries, March 2004 (v.7, n.2)

In November 2003, a survey was mailed to all of the 370 independent public libraries in Massachusetts to gather information about public Internet access. The last survey to collect this information was distributed in June 2000. While the 2000 survey asked library directors about computers available to the public and public computers with Internet access, the 2003 survey included more specific questions about filtering and the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) compliance.

A total of 239 (65%) surveys were completed and returned. Of those, two reported no publicly available computers with Internet access in the library.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Public library directors in Massachusetts are actively responding to the issues and concerns surrounding Internet access for users of their libraries. Their responses to the survey revealed the following about Massachusetts public libraries:

  • 21% use filters on their public access computers–up from 16% in 2000.
  • 71% of those using filters--filter on computers in the children's area only–up from 62% in 2000.
  • 91% have acceptable use policies–up from 86% in 2000.
  • 27% require parental permission for children to use a library computer to access the Internet--up slightly from 25% in 2000.
  • 68% have staff monitor public use of the Internet--up dramatically from 39% in 2000.
  • 86.5% stated that they do not have formal procedures in place to handle user complaints about Internet access.
  • 93% reported that they did not receive any formal written complaints about the Internet content in their libraries over the last twelve months.
  • 43% report compliance with NCIPA and CIPA.

The complete report is available in pdf format.

Throughout the report, the results from this 2003 survey are compared with the results of the 2000 Massachusetts survey and the 2000 national study conducted by The Library Research Center of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois for the American Library Association, (Survey of Internet Access Management in Public Libraries. The Library Research Center, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois: June, 2000).

This Web site, and other programs of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, is funded in part with funds from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning.
Page last updated on 09/20/2007