ALA publication highlights five approaches to upgrading broadband connectivity

The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) today released Making Connections: Lessons from Five Shared Library Networks — profiles of five library networks that have, through varying approaches, successfully upgraded their broadband connectivity.

Providing users with no-fee public access to the Internet is increasingly vital to connecting people with ideas and information — a core mission of libraries. The case studies of these five networks reveal lessons learned that may be instructive for other libraries seeking to establish successful networks. This publication was developed as part of the Opportunity Online Broadband Grant Program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help libraries increase and sustain free, quality public access to computers for their patrons.

Networks highlighted in publication include the Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN), West Virginia’s Statewide Library Network (SLN), Wisconsin’s BadgerNet, the Maine School and Library Network (MSLN), and the Peninsula Library System (PLS) of California.

The case studies offer no single recipe for a successful library network. Rather, they provide a set of options for libraries to consider as they pursue solutions tailored to the unique circumstances and needs of their community, region, or state.

“Our objective with creating this publication is to stimulate creative thinking that will ultimately result in better connectivity for libraries and their patrons across the country,” Carrie McGuire, director of OITP’s Program on Networks, said.

“Between the funding available for special projects through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the ongoing support for connectivity from the E-rate program, library leaders find themselves in a unique position to consider the development of large-scale broadband networks.”

The publication, available at ala.org/casestudies, also includes a technical primer on broadband connectivity and networking strategies as well as a networking glossary.

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