Monday, November 15, 2010

Report: Public libraries narrow the digital divide

SEATTLE (AP) - Build libraries and they will come -- and surf.

Public libraries have helped narrow the digital divide by providing free access to computers and the Internet, according to a report released Wednesday at the Public Library Association 10th National Conference, which ends Saturday.

More than 95 percent of the nation's public libraries now offer Internet access to the public, with 14 million people using them regularly to get online, said the report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Families earning less than $15,000 a year are two to three times more likely to rely on libraries than those earning more than $75,000.

``Cuts in library budgets won't turn off the Internet for wealthy or middle-class families,''
William H. Gates Sr., co-chairman of the foundation, said in a news release. ``It will turn off the Internet for people who have nowhere else to turn.''

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