Utah’s public, academic, tribal, state, and special libraries and archives. Created and maintained by the Utah State Library.
Public libraries serve communities of all sizes as a source for research, a community meeting place, a place for access to education and news from around the world. Libraries with broadband become gateways to information in communities where broadband access is not universal and for community members without the means to own a computer or purchase broadband connectivity for themselves. Libraries help close the “digital divide” that threatens to leave people behind.
Broadband Benefits the Libraries
Libraries could distribute audio books, video and other DVD materials and operate an online audio-video system with consistent broadband access across a region.
Libraries with broadband access are the only source for free Internet access in as many as 67 percent of library communities and provide a critical link for filling out government forms, job applications and even starting a business.
People who have an Internet connection elsewhere also use library computers because they need a faster connection, need assistance from a librarian, have to compete with family members for the computer at home or want to use a computer in a safe and quiet environment.
Broadband enables digital literacy training opportunities in community libraries for seniors and other adults who need to engage the Internet.
Libraries connected to broadband are used by student s to download educational materials, including course lectures, and provide access to research material not found in the community.
Libraries often serve as a community’s central meeting place and broadband would enable participation in meetings and educational opportunities through video-conferencing. Libraries with broadband connections can serve as a community’s only link to the Internet in a disaster. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, library patrons filed Federal Emergency Management Agency claims and got in touch with loved ones using the local library computer.
What is Needed to Bring Broadband to Libraries?
In addition to broadband, libraries also need to look at several other factors. Do libraries and library staff have the right technological tools to leverage broadband? Do existing process and procedures permit use of broadband and are existing personnel trained to use such technologies?
The Utah Broadband Project can provide education, awareness, and facilitate broadband opportunities for libraries. But we also need to understand how libraries want to use broadband, and the barriers and challenges you face for integrating it into your service to the community.
Did you know that all Bookmobiles (aka mobile libraries) in Utah are equipped with WiFi? Did you know that they all have laptop computers and most even have iPads for public use. Learn more about the Book Mobile Program in Utah here.
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) National Broadband Plan
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan includes a set of ambitious goals and aspirations for broadband libraries and the communities they serve. And it is just the starting point for conversations that will be held in this state and across the nation about the best way to deliver and use broadband. The Plan’s recommendations include:
- Expand access to broadband with common sense reforms. Schools and libraries must also leverage their technology resources to best serve their own communities. The FCC’s plan recommends changes to E-rate to allow wireless educational solutions that serve students on and off campus, and to give schools and libraries more flexibility to purchase the lowest-cost broadband option in their area. By granting schools the choice to allow community access to school networks after school hours for uses like adult education, existing resources can reach more Americans at no additional cost. And by streamlining the funding process, E-rate applicants can get their network funding faster with less red-tape. Other parts of the plan would allow E-rate support for internal connections in libraries, set minimum broadband connectivity goals for libraries and prioritize funds accordingly, raise the cap on E-rate funding to account for inflation and consider amending the Communications Act to help tribal libraries overcome barriers to E-rate eligibility.