The Public Computer Centers Project: Coloradans Benefit From Access and Training

Since the spring of 2011, Coloradans of varying ages and stages—in communities large and small across the state—have been taking advantage of the opportunity to use 88 Public Computer Centers (PCCs), free of charge, individually during open access time as well as by taking computer classes. Located primarily in public libraries (or other public spaces in communities without libraries), the PCCs offer a variety of computer equipment and services based on community needs. Grant funding for the PCCs, totaling $3.3 million, was obtained in 2010 from the federal government’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as through matching and in-kind donations from the Colorado State Library, local libraries, and community organizations statewide.

During the winter and spring of 2012, more than 7,300 adult users (18 years and older) of these BTOP PCCs were surveyed by the Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library, to understand who is benefiting—and in what ways—from open access to PCC computers as well as computer classes. The findings indicate that respondents experienced a variety of outcomes as a result of their use of the PCCs.