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VITAL issues: the perception, and use, of ICT services in UK public libraries

Eve, Juliet and Brophy, Peter (2000) VITAL issues: the perception, and use, of ICT services in UK public libraries. LIBRES: Library and Information Science Research, 10 (2). ISSN 1058-6768

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Abstract

ICT (information and communications technology) facilities for public use in UK public libraries are set to expand rapidly in the next few years, providing a network of access to learning opportunities and services. Government policies to tackle issues of social exclusion and to stimulate the uptake of lifelong learning have prioritised the role of public libraries in being one of the key delivery points for ICT access. Most of the capital funding for ICT infrastructure has, to date, come from sources external to core library funding; the sustainability of services will be a key area of importance in the future. In order to prove the value and impact of providing access to ICT facilities and services within public libraries, measurements will need to be developed and implemented which can provide managers, funders, and policy makers with reliable information about the uses made of these services and how they contribute to the government’s social agenda. Service continuation and development that matches the needs of users is essential if the public library is to thrive in an increasingly electronically delivered “information society”. This paper presents the results from the VITAL (Value and Impact of IT Access in Libraries) research project, which set out to test methodologies – focussing on the need for qualitative indicators of value – suitable for providing evidence to support the role libraries have begun to play in delivering electronic services to the public in the UK.

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