U.S. IMPACT Survey Pilot – Request for Help From Public Libraries

Public Library Directors,

I am forwarding a message from the University of Washington and asking for your help. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation they are developing a new U.S. IMPACT Survey public access technology evaluation tool. This follows their “Opportunity for All” survey (with report) conducted in 2009 and a second report released in 2011.

They are looking for public libraries of all sizes to help test their survey tool. See below for details. They have extended the enrollment in this pilot until September 26 for a 2-4 week field study.

It is important that we have some VT libraries participate in this pilot. Contact info is in the message below. Their goal is to register 400 libraries nationwide for this pilot.

Thanks for your help!
Martha Reid
State Librarian
Vermont Department of Libraries

Original Message:

Dear Public Library Director,

I’m contacting you about an exciting opportunity to participate in a pilot project that will benefit libraries all over the country and also help you demonstrate the value of providing public access technology services in your community.

The University of Washington, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is extending the benefits of the 2009 U.S. IMPACT Study patron web survey by making it available for public libraries to use in their own public access technology data collection, evaluation, and advocacy efforts.

The UW is recruiting 400 library systems nationwide to pilot a web portal where libraries can easily connect to the survey and use it whenever they want to evaluate their public access services. Instead of programming, collecting, analyzing your own survey, and having to write your own reports, the new UW system will do all this for you, automatically! They have extended the original enrollment deadline, now asking that pilot libraries start their flexible 2-4 week survey fielding period no later than September 26th.

As a pilot library, you will receive a full-color, ready-for-distribution report immediately after running the survey. The UW has also developed new advocacy tools through the survey website, including video instruction, to help you use the survey results to communicate with funders and other policy makers in your community. Pilot libraries will receive technical support throughout their involvement and given an opportunity to provide feedback on the process and support materials.

I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to evaluate impact of providing public access technology in your community and to help the University of Washington develop this tool for all libraries to use for years to come. You may register your library for the pilot by creating an account at http://impactsurvey.org. For more information, please visit http://impactsurvey.org or contact the survey coordinator at info@impactsurvey.org or (206) 543-4324.

Thank you for your help with this important project.

About the U.S. IMPACT Study

Conducted in 2009, the U.S. IMPACT Study was the first large-scale investigation of the ways library patrons use computers and the Internet at public libraries, why they use it, and how it affects their lives. The study consisted of 4 case studies, a national telephone survey, and an online survey designed to supplement the telephone survey and ensure that PAC (public access computing) users from all walks of life were represented. Over 400 libraries participated in the online survey, which yielded 45,000 responses. The study was instrumental in providing evidence that access to the Internet at U.S. public libraries has a profound and measurable impact on individuals and communities. The study’s second report, Opportunity for All: How Library Policies and Practices Impact Public Internet Access was released in June of 2011: http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/OppForAll2.pdf