Thursday, April 17, 2008

Internet Haves and Have Nots

Aaron Smith at the Pew Internet & American Life Project points to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) compilation of state-by-state home internet usage figures based on the Census Bureau's October 2007 Current Population Survey.

The report, which consists of 12 pages of tabular data, reveals a number of interesting facts about internet usage in America. Internet usage differs by race (less than 20% of White Non Hispanic households do not use the internet, while more than 40% of Black Non Hispanics, American Indians/Native Americans and Hispanics do not). Income differences are also stark: while about 29% of all households are internet non-users, more than 50% of households with incomes less than $25,000 do not use the internet.

Importantly, the data also reveals where people access the internet. Lower income people are much more likely to access the internet outside the home (at work? in libraries?).

These statistics, and the myriad of others in the report, underscore the importance libraries play in providing access to information (including the internet), in instructing users on how to access that information, and in providing alternative means of access to those who are "internet have nots."

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