Edge Initiative Launches Website to Promote Public Access Technology in Libraries

March 27th, 2012

Learn about Beta Benchmarks that will Position Libraries for the Future

Together with the library field, the Edge Initiative—an effort driven by a coalition of leading library and government organizations—has launched a new website to promote awareness of the development of benchmarks that measure high quality public access technology.

The Edge website, www.libraryedge.org, features the Edge benchmarks: a framework of good practices that will help libraries evaluate and continually improve their public technology services for communities. The benchmarks, which are currently in beta, will be updated regularly, in partnership with the library and local government fields, to ensure they are current, relevant and valuable.

In addition to the benchmarks, the website provides a wealth of information highlighting this initiative including the benefits of using the Edge benchmarks and details about support materials libraries will receive to help demonstrate the quality of their technology services.

“For many millions of people, the library is the ‘go-to’ place for access to the life-enriching opportunities that technology makes possible,” said Susan Benton, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council. “Libraries and local leaders need tools to measure and continuously improve the quality of their computer and Internet services.”

The coalition, which formed last year with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will pilot the benchmarks in libraries and communities this summer. Following extensive input from the field, the first official version of the benchmarks will be launched later in 2012 reinforced by strategies to incent the widespread adoption of this dynamic resource.

The national coalition collaborating to create and pilot the Edge benchmarks includes: American Library Association-Office for Information Technology Policy; LYRASIS; Public Library Association; OCLC; the State Libraries of California, Oklahoma, and Texas; university-based

research groups from the University of Maryland and University of Washington; International City/County Management Association; TechSoup Global; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Urban Libraries Council is the coordinating entity of the Edge Initiative.

Use of public access technology in libraries has exploded in recent years. To meet urgent demand and advance community goals, libraries need to continuously improve the quality of these services which requires the investment of resources. Local government leaders need compelling, reliable data to understand both the value and cost of providing high-quality technology services in libraries.

“The Edge benchmarks will help library leaders determine whether - and to what extent - they are staying on the leading-edge of technology to help people achieve their goals,” said Benton. “In turn, this information will help local government and other funders understand the value of investing public resources in 21st century community-based technology.”

For more information, please visit the Edge website or contact Alison Saffold, with the Urban Libraries Council, 312.676.0953.