Aotearoa People's Network

Free library internet service proves its worth

07 Feb 2011

The Department of Internal Affairs

Media Release

A National Library-led initiative to provide free internet in libraries and marae across New Zealand has found overwhelming support for the scheme from users and staff, according to an independent review.

The Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa (APNK) provides free access to broadband internet services to more than 130 libraries and three marae, with more committed to join.

The just-released 2010 independent evaluation of the programme indicates it is having a profound effect in enhancing the financial, employment, educational and social opportunities for users, while also significantly boosting library membership and usage.

Key findings include:

  • APNK users report clear benefits in terms of finding jobs (44 per cent of users), financial use (41 per cent), increasing computer literacy (47 per cent), accessing local council services (39 per cent) and in education-related activities (30 per cent).
  • The programme is proving a significant tool for Maori training and employment by providing internet access where none existed before.
  • APNK is seen as an essential library service, with more than two-thirds of those surveyed regarding it as an essential part of the library/marae.
  • Library staff expressed almost unanimous satisfaction with the APNK service and library membership has increased by an average 30 per cent at participating libraries.

“The National Library is pleased to see that the APNK is delivering the benefits we intended when launching it three years ago,” said Acting National Librarian, Sue Sutherland.

“It is significant that many respondents (42 per cent of users) reported that they did not have other forms of access to the internet. The benefits to libraries are also clear, with library staff reporting increased usage of a range of other library services, and increased numbers from traditionally hard-to-reach groups.

“The evaluation shows that the APNK has been a major success, and while there may be challenges for libraries in managing the increasing public demand for the service, it is significant that none of the participants in the evaluation mentioned that libraries should go back to the way they were before the APNK.”

Read the full evaluation here  

 

For more information contact:
Allen Walley, National Library: 04 470 4580 or 021 241 7000

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