If you work in a public library, you know that lots of folks using your library’s Internet PCs have little or no other access to the Internet. Even after years of the phone and cable companies sending you & everyone else junk mail promoting High-Speed Internet Access!, many people must rely on their local library as their sole gateway to online communication, and there are lots of children – kids from lower-income families in particular – among them. Here’s a recent study from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Internet & American Life Project that demonstrates that need. The U.S. is rated 15th, after much of northern and western Europe, plus South Korea and Japan, in the percentage of its citizens with broadband access. While many of the people without high-speed access are seniors, plenty of others are simply lower-income people – many of them with children – who can’t afford the $50 a month (at least where I live) to get it hooked up through their phone or cable line.

Remember – for lots of kids, even if all they’re doing is playing games, your library may be their only access to the Net.