From E-rate to network neutrality, national attention is focused on the “need for (broadband) speed” to support innovation, learning and digital inclusion in the modern world. And yet, too many libraries and communities are in danger of falling behind with internet speeds that crawl rather than race to connect people to a world of online resources and services.
Four nationally recognized leaders in advancing both library and community broadband access will share best practices, successes and tips for building toward a gigabit nation at the ALA Annual Conference Sunday, June 29, from 1-2:30 p.m. in Las Vegas Convention Center Room N243.
Recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceedings have raised the visibility and urgency of ensuring broadband access, and libraries are at the center of the action. Join the conversation and leave with tools to move your library and your community forward.
“High-capacity broadband is now a basic building block for vibrant libraries and communities,” said Larra Clark, director of the Program on Networks in the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). “Librarians are and should be leaders in these critical community conversations.”
The “Libraries as Leaders for Community Broadband Access” panel features diverse expertise:
- Corinne Hill, executive director of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Public Library, recently shared her experiences leveraging broadband to support community innovation at the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate Modernization Workshop. Known as the first “GigCity,” Chattanooga and its library are making national news for attracting talent and economic development by harnessing lightning-fast internet speeds. Hill will answer the questions: What’s a gig good for, and how can your library be an engine for community development?
- Bob Bocher, policy fellow for ALA OITP, is helping lead a statewide effort to bring fiber connections to every public library in Wisconsin by year’s end. The initiative will upgrade broadband service to more than 300 libraries and provide scalable connections that can be easily upgraded as library demands change and grow. Bocher will share lessons from this effort, as well as how this work has helped to inform ALA E-rate policy recommendations, specifically in reference to the FCC’s #1 E-rate reform goal of focusing on broadband connectivity.
- Heather Burnett Gold, president of the Fiber to the Home Council (FTTH), a non-profit organization that seeks to accelerate deployment of “future-proof” fiber networks by demonstrating how fiber-enabled applications and solutions create value for network operators and their customers, promote economic development and enhance quality of life. Gold will discuss and share the FTTH Community Toolkit, which gives communities tools and resources to fulfill the vision of a Gigabit Nation.
- Tom Koutsky, chief policy counsel for Connected Nation, has worked directly with state and local libraries as part of Connected Nation’s state broadband mapping and broadband adoption efforts. He also served on the team that wrote the U.S. National Broadband Plan, focusing on the Plan’s recommendations for broadband infrastructure policies, community anchor institution networks, and E-rate modernization. Koutsky will discuss the Connected Community Engagement Program, which is designed to help communities of all sizes tackle challenges in broadband adoption, access and use.
- Monica Schultz, chair of the OITP telecommunications subcommittee and information technology director for the Peninsula Library System (PLS), will moderate. Schultz, who also has served on the board of the California Library Association, is leading a pilot with the state research & education network to boost connectivity. PLS was the first library to connect to CalREN at 10 Gbps and will upgrade each branch to 1 Gbps this summer.
Use the hashtag #libleaders during the session. View all ALA Washington Office Conference sessions.