Public libraries first began using computers for circulation services
(i.e., checking in and out books) in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"Most libraries started using computers in the late 1960s and early
1970s as tools to automate manual circulation processes. Thus
gradually, automation has spread throughout the library system and it
added other features, such as cataloguing, acquisitions, and
replacement of card catalogs with publicly accessible automated
Equity Research Report on: Data Research Associates, Inc.
University of Missouri ? St. Louis, cached by Google:
Around the same time, public libraries began to use computers to
catalog books and other materials. Computer-based catalogs replaced
the old paper card catalogs. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, many
public libraries had completely replaced the old card catalogs with
"By late 1960s, the first computer-based library catalogs were being
developed with the aid of machine-readable data supplied by MARC.
...Computer-based library catalogs were initially restricted to small
numbers of staff-operated terminals because, in the 1960s and early
1970s, computers were rarely available to the general public...
Each computer network was served by a single computer...
By the mid-1970s individual libraries, mostly at colleges and
universities, began to develop computer-based catalogs open to their
users.. public-access catalogs (PACs)
By the early 1980s many libraries moved away from using card catalogs
Typically, the shift to a computer-based catalog began with the
closing of the card catalog to new cards as of a certain date..."
Information Technologies and the Information Professions: Overview
of OPACs Philip Doty and R. E. Wyllys
By the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s, many public libraries had
personal computers available for independent use and CD-ROM-based
research. However, a 1993 survey indicated that only about 30 percent
of public libraries provide such computer access.
"Computer technology resources were not widely available for personal
use. Thirty percent of libraries reported having personal computers
for independent use, and 25 percent reported the availability of
computer software for independent use. Only 24 percent reported that
CD-ROM software was available."
National Center for Education Statistics, 1993 survey
In 1993, the Seattle Public Library became the first library to offer
access to the internet to the public. This was text-based Internet
browsing via the library's catalog terminals (OPACs).
"The Seattle Public Library and its many branches, for example, has
started to offer Internet access on their OPAC in 1993 via their
gopher. Currently they are planning to add access to the WWW with a
graphical browser. "
ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES IN THE US LIBRARIES: TRAINING ISSUES
"The Seattle Public Library (SPL) has provided public access to the
Internet -- via a leased line to a commercial Internet provider -- and
electronic community information databases and resources since July
"First public library to offer free access to the Internet: Seattle Public Library"
source: Open Market Internet Index
Although Internet access in public libraries began in 1993, the
technology didn't become popular right way. In 1994, only 13 percent
of public libraries offered internet access to patrons. By 1995, only
about 28 percent of public libraries were offering Internet access.
In the late 1990s, though, the Internet exploded in popularity. By
2000, about 95 percent of public libraries provided Internet access to
"In Spring 1994, 7 percent of public libraries nationwide had direct
connections to the Internet. About 21 percent had modem or direct Internet
connection available to library staff, mostly by modem. Among libraries
serving more than 100,000 population, a majority had modem or direct access
to the Internet. 13 percent of libraries nationwide allowed hands-on access
to patrons. As of 1995, 28 percent of the 369 metropolitan libraries in the U.S.
allowed patrons some form of hands-on access to the Internet."
"The poor and the Internet in schools and libraries," hosted by Civic.net:
"The 2000 Internet Connectivity Study measured the level of
connectivity, public access, training support and technology funding,
current and anticipated, for staff and the public. Internet
connectivity in public libraries is 95.7%, up from 83.6% reported in
the 1998 study. Ninety-four point five (94.5) percent of public
libraries provide public access to the Internet."
U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
"public libraries", computers, 1970s, catalogs
"public libaries" "access to the internet"
I hope this helps.