Sunday, January 10, 2010

Libraries on Forefront of Offering Free Public Access Internet

OITP profiles five library networks. The ALA Office for Information Technology Policy released on January 6 Making Connections: Lessons from Five Shared Library Networks (PDF file)—profiles of five library networks that have, through varying approaches, successfully upgraded their broadband connectivity. The case studies reveal lessons learned that may be instructive for other libraries seeking to establish successful networks. Networks include Ohio Public Library Information Network, West Virginia Library Commission, Wisconsin BadgerNet, Peninsula Library System (California), and Maine School and Library Network.

This and earlier Making Connections reports are meant to support calls for Federal Broadband funding for public libraries. Much of the broadband grants is going to other entities, yet Public Libraries are on the forefront of offering no-fee broadband access to the Internet. Library Internet workstations are generally full (with waiting lines) and most public libraries also offer free wireless Internet access. Ironically, library hours are often reduced because of local government budget woes even though public demand to library access increases in times of economic downturn.

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