On Thursday, April 17, 2014, from 9:30–11:30 a.m., leaders from the American Library Association (ALA) will participate in “Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact,” a public hearing hosted by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will explore the need for high-speed broadband in American libraries. Larra Clark, director of the ALA Program on Networks, and Linda Lord, ALA E-rate Task Force Chair and Maine State Librarian, will present on two panels.
The hearing, which takes place during National Library Week (April 13–19, 2014), will explore innovative library practices, partnerships and strategies for serving our communities; share available research on library broadband connections and services; and discuss solutions for improving library connectivity to drive education, community and economic development. During her discussion, Clark will share findings from relevant library research managed by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics, including the IMLS-funded Digital Inclusion Survey and the Public Libraries Funding Technology Access Study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Lord will discuss ALA e-rate policy recommendations for boosting libraries toward gigabit broadband speeds.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Thomas Wheeler will make opening remarks at the hearing, and expert panelists from across the library, technology, and public policy spectrum will explore the issue of high-speed broadband in America’s libraries. IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth will chair the hearing along with members of the National Museum Services Board including, Christie Pearson Brandau of Iowa, Charles Benton of Illinois, Winston Tabb of Maryland, and Carla Hayden also of Maryland.
Interested participants may register to attend the event in-person at D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Alternatively, participants can also tune into event virtually, as IMLS will stream the hearing live on YouTube or Google+. Library staff may also participate by submitting written comments sharing their successes, challenges or other input related to library broadband access and use into the hearing record on or before April 24, 2014. Each comment must include the author’s name and organizational affiliation, if any, and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guidance for submitting testimony is available here (pdf).