The aim of this study was to measure the attitudes of public library staff towards the
Internet. Opinions of training received by staff for use of the Internet were also
recorded and the relationship between attitudes and training was analysed and
considered. This was deemed of value at a time when public library staff were about
to embark on the largest public library training initiative ever undertaken for
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the installation ofPCs
with Internet access in every public library as part of the People's Network.
A mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods were utilised including a
questionnaire which incorporated an amended version of the Technology
Acceptance Model completed by more than 900 public library staff, interviews with
managers, focus groups with a cross-section of staff and an online bulletin board.
The study found that the attitudes of most public library staffwere positive towards
using the Internet at work. Negativity towards the Internet related to discomfort
with the cultural changes taking place in public libraries as a result ofiCT.
Attitudes were found to have an integral role in relation to public library staff's
willingness to use the Internet; in particular, perceptions of usefulness were very
influential. Helping the public use the Internet was generally regarded as a positive
experience although finding the time to assist library users was difficult.
Training, support and assistance for use of the Internet was well rated although a
minority of respondents had not received any training. Ratings of the usefulness of
Internet training were related to perceptions of the usefulness, ease of use and
intention to use the Internet at work. The popularity of self-directed learning
denoted the increased potential for online learning in the future. In contrast with
findings from the literature review, informal learning methods such as on-the-job
and cascade training were well rated by staff for use of the Internet.
The findings of this study suggest that seemingly throwaway comments deriding a
new innovation or practice in the public library sphere cannot be easily dismissed
and may point to deeper concerns about change and lay bare negative attitudes. In
addition, staff demonstrating pessimistic and unconstructive remarks appear to be
influential. More worryingly, these attitudes may mean that staff will not use a new technology in the way that managers, policy makers and funding bodies envisage.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.