These days everyone is trying to figure out how to maximize broadband capabilities. The American Library Association has issued its recommendation: libraries should seek fiber optic technologies in their proposals for stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
ALA - a Speed Matters partner - bases this recommendation on an analysis of the services that libraries across the country are struggling to provide their patrons and the services patrons are most likely to require in the future. The ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy has recently published a report that outlines their recommendation. In it, they say:
"People of all ages and backgrounds increasingly depend upon the local library's public access computers and Internet access and support to search for jobs, take classes, complete homework assignments, obtain medical information, and receive government information and services... Unfortunately, the ability of local libraries to meet these community needs is in jeopardy because of the lack of adequate broadband capability."
The ALA identifies two primary benefits of fiber optic technology. Fiber will allow libraries to:
- Introduce new services and applications and
- Provide adequate bandwidth for current and future services
The potential in fiber technology extends beyond basic library services. The ALA reports, "With reliable, high-speed connections, libraries are incorporating interactive Web-based applications to engage their users. Libraries are adding podcasts of book talks, video-on-demand, geo-tagging of local landmarks, patron tagged catalogs, and tweets of the latest fiction."
For states, municipalities, and libraries issuing their stimulus proposals, the ALA report provides possible scenarios for deployment of fiber technologies.