In 2010, researchers from the University of Washington released the study “Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries.” This study was a national effort that consisted of a random telephone survey, online surveys of library users, interviews, and focus groups to determine who library internet computer users were, why they were using the computers, and how this service benefited their lives.

The results showed that library internet computer users’ three most common reasons for using the computers were social connections (60%), education (42%), and employment (40%).  This study also found that library computer use was most common among people in poverty, people of mixed race and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders, 14-18 year olds, men, and people who speak languages other than English at home.

The survey used in this study was the Impact Survey, which is now freely available to U.S. public libraries. If you are interested in learning more about the demographics of your computer users and their reasons for using the library computers, this might be a good option for you. After administering the survey to your patrons, you will receive customized reports that can be used for planning, marketing, and advocacy purposes. Check out the Impact Survey website for more information about how your library can participate in this study.

Looking for other resources for library user surveys? Check out our user satisfaction survey templates. These consist of 3 survey templates that you can download and modify for use in your library, as well as tips and best practices for survey design and administration.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st century library.