Only sort of related to libraries, but since it’s National Library Week and coincidentally tax week in the US, I thought you might be interested in reading this article about how and why the IRS is moving to e-filing. To me this touches on some digital divide issues. It’s significantly cheaper for the IRS to process a return submitted online.
It costs nearly $3 to process a paper return, but processing an electronic return costs only about 35 cents. The error rate on paper returns is 20 percent, which consumers must compute and workers must enter into IRS computers, compared with 1 percent for e-filed returns.
People also get their refunds more quickly. There are fewer errors with online returns.
Yet after 20 years of e-file availability, we’re still only seeing 66% of returns filed online. And this is happening even as printed state (NJ, KY) and federal tax forms are becoming less and less available in libraries. Some states aren’t even printing the big tax form notebook anymore. And some states aren’t mailing print forms. Some county library systems haven’t been doing the tax form thing for nearly 20 years. The article examines why. If you are helping your patrons file online, be aware that there are free options available for low-income filers and even discounts for non-low income people if they know where to look. My bank, for example, had a discount on TurboTax’s usual rates available just by me clicking a link on their website.
And I’m trying to track down the copy I had of the letter we got at one of the small rural libraries from the IRS that basically said they wouldn’t be sending us printed tax forms anymore. This was back when we still had a dialup connection and it was mighty inconvenient. Having a hard time remembering when this was. Anyone know?
Why South Africa is failing its children and what people are doing to try to solve the problem.
[F]ewer than 7% of schools in South Africa have a functioning library. Perhaps 21% have some kind of structure called a reading room, but these are usually used for classrooms, are seldom stocked properly and do not have a library professional in charge to ensure that the right books are there and that they are used properly. The lack of libraries compounds the many problems, such as teachers’ poor subject knowledge and poor access to textbooks, that plague our schooling system. These factors combine to make our reading outcomes, at all grade levels, among the worst in Africa.
Short attractive website telling us some things to keep in mind. The Usable Library. Thanks for the CC attribution on the poster!
Sarah Houghton-Jan has had it, and I don’t blame her. Reading Meredith’s post about EBSCOs shady dealings just made be gnash my teeth again and wish that there was a decent way we could let our vendors know that sure we’d like to continue relationships with them, but they have to start giving us genuine options — good tools, decent prices, respectable service — instead of just assuming that they’ll always have a library market.
As most of you know, I’m working on a book. As many of you likely don’t know, I can be a terrible procrastinator though I tend to deliver content on time if I can (my deadline’s been extended til June). So I’m spending the next few months being a perfectionist, noodling with Scrivener, and talking to my computer about the digital divide and how libraries and librarians can help people cross it. I may send out some queries for some personal feedback and/or anecdotes at some point.
In the meantime I’ll be reading offline more, writing here less, and not travelling out of state again for work until summertime. Thanks to the wonders of RSS, you’ll know when I’m adding more content here [and I’ve added my twitterstream to the sidebar] but I sadly won’t be heading to Computers in Libraries. Hope it’s fun.