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In addition to their other roles, public libraries play a vital part in providing Internet access to members of their communities, providing a gateway for those doing homework, applying for jobs, and accessing public services.

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* Based on the total unduplicated population of libraries' legal service areas. Values presented are for the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Calculations were performed on all surveyed libraries, not only those meeting Institute of Museum and Library Services criteria for public libraries.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Public Libraries Survey (2000–2005); and Institute of Museum and Library Services, Public Libraries in the United States Survey (2006–2010).

The trend presented here is based on data points, published by Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Center for Education Statistics, that were calculated for all public libraries surveyed, not only those that met IMLS criteria. In 2010, IMLS began publishing information for only those entities that it considers public libraries. Since the 2010 findings were not comparable to values for earlier years, the Humanities Indicators (HI) staff recalculated the 2010 values for all surveyed libraries. The HI hopes in the near future to be able to present, for the years 1995 and forward, data points based on only those organizations that can be considered public libraries under the IMLS definition. The “per 5,000 people” values included in this graph are based on the total unduplicated population of libraries’ legal service areas. A library’s legal service area is the geographical area that by state or local statute a library is mandated to serve. “Unduplicated” refers to the fact that the population figures have been adjusted to compensate for overlapping service areas. To simply add the populations of all service areas would be to double count those people residing in areas served by more than one library.

V-17b: Public-Use Internet Computers in Public Libraries per 5,000 People, by State, Fiscal Year 2010*

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* Based on the total unduplicated population of libraries' legal service areas. Calculations were performed only on those libraries meeting Institute of Museum and Library Services criteria for public libraries.

Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services, “Table 11: Number of Public-Use Internet Computers in Public Libraries and Uses of Internet Computers per Year, by State: Fiscal Year 2010,” in Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2010: Supplementary Tables (Washington, DC: Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2013), 34–35.

Indicator V-9b displays for each state (and the District of Columbia) the number of Internet computers made available by public libraries per 5,000 population in fiscal year 2010. States are classified by quintile. (Quintiles divide a set of values ranked in ascending order into five equal groups, each constituting one-fifth of the values. In this case, the first quintile includes the 20% of states with the lowest number of computers available for Internet use at public libraries, while the fifth quintile encompasses the 20% of states with the highest number.) The values presented are based on the total unduplicated population of libraries’ legal service areas. A library’s legal service area is the geographical area that by state or local statute a library is mandated to serve. “Unduplicated” refers to the fact that the population figures have been adjusted to compensate for overlapping service areas. To simply add the populations of all service areas would be to double count those people residing in areas served by more than one library.

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