Libraries, telecentres and cybercafés are key points of public access to information around the world. In this first study of its kind, named the Public Access Landscape Study, a global research team led by the University of Washington’s Center for Information & Society (CIS) researched public access venues (libraries, telecentres, cybercafés) in 25 countries around the world. The goal of the project was to better understand the needs and opportunities to strengthen institutions that offer public access to information and communication, especially to underserved communities, and with a particular emphasis on the use of information and communication technology (ICT). This paper reports findings from this study, particularly in relation to the users of the different types of venues. Given that most public access venues are located in urban areas, and given the strong prevalence of cybercafés as the most common public access venues in the majority of the countries studied, a strong urban bias was confirmed. An age divide was by far the most significant characteristic of the surveyed population, with youth (15-35 year-olds) accounting for the vast majority of users of these venues. Also significant was that most users were highschool educated, and most were lower to middle-income. Older individuals, those with high or low education levels, and those with higher-incomes did not frequent public access venues nearly as much as younger, poorer, and more modestly-educated individuals. However, contrary to current literature on this topic, gender may not be as strong a differentiator of use of public access venue as other studies report. With few exceptions, women and men participated almost equally in most of the public access venues studied, although men tended to use cybercafés more often. This paper is one of a series of papers presenting findings from this large study across different types of public access venues in 25 countries. Findings from this study can inform policymakers about opportunities and challenges to support and strengthen public access venues and help reach underserved populations with meaningful access to ICT.
Gomez, Ricardo and Camacho, Kemly, "Who uses ICT at Public Access Centers?" (2009). GlobDev 2009. 6.