How fast is your library’s internet (really)?

Last Friday, the Federal Communications Commission approved its first E-rate Order as part of its modernization proceeding.

But the work is far from over. The FCC also seeks additional data and public comment to inform its next steps in E-rate modernization.

As part of its ongoing advocacy, the ALA and other national library partners will gather new data this month to gauge the quality of public access to the internet in our nation’s public libraries. The effort is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and is supported by the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Public Library Association, and the Urban Libraries Council.

The broadband speed test will measure the actual internet speeds delivered to desktops, laptops and mobile devices in public library buildings. Gathering information on the actual speeds to the device will help better describe and improve the library patron experience using library wired and wireless networks. The resulting data–needed from libraries of all sizes in all 50 states–will aid the library community in advocating for adequate E-rate funding for libraries. All participating libraries also will receive their local speed data.

“Strong Wi-Fi and internal broadband connections in libraries and schools are necessary to support individualized learning. We need to better understand this issue from a ‘front-line’ context,” said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. “I hope we will have broad library participation in this effort so that policy decisions will be well informed and can accommodate future broadband needs of library customers.”

Please help us spread the word! Public libraries can log on to the speed test at: digitalinclusion.pnmi.com/speedtest.

About Larra Clark

As Deputy Director of the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), Larra’s responsibilities include overall management of OITP’s telecommunications portfolio and day-to-day management of America’s Libraries for the 21st Century (AL21C) projects and those in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Previously, she served as the project manager in the ALA Office for Research & Statistics for three years.

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