(Sausalito, CA – June 12 -) The Community TeleStructure Initiative (CTI) announced today plans for a series of workshops on the National Fiber to the Library (F2L) initiative; its goal being to connect every library in the U.S. with fiber-speed internet by 2010. The first workshop will be held in Sausalito, CA on July 2, and will include broadband policy & market leaders in California joined by key national policy leaders like the American Library Association, the Fiber to the Home Council and the FCC.
In spite of having invented the internet, each year shows the U.S. slipping ever farther behind other developed economies in broadband penetration and price/performance levels; even more so in the use of fiber-based connections as fiber’s potential has not been generally understood or demonstrated.
Now, long sought “killer applications” requiring high performance internet connections like distance learning, telemedicine, access to remote museum resources, HD video conferencing and high resolution multi user simulations may have found a new friend in the fiber-connected local library.
After early leadership in broadband deployment “the library” has more recently been portrayed as the place of last resort for access to the internet; the default response for minimally bridging the digital divide. The Fiber to the Library proposal advocates for the library as an early adopter, a place where faster, better information and communications technologies and services are available first.
“Providing next-generation broadband access via optical fiber to America’s Libraries assures our library system will be able to meet the information needs of the 21st Century. New, broadband-intensive services will be generated sooner and made available more broadly via fiber-connected libraries,” asserts Joe Savage, FTTHC President.
Since March ’05, the CTI consortium of national organizations including TechNet, IEEE, ITAA, PTI & EDUCAUSE has called on communities to accept lead responsibility for deployment strategies of broadband infrastructure in their area. To date a number of states including California, Virginia, Massachusetts and Florida have responded favorably to the challenge by convening state policy and market leaders in TeleStructure Broadband Roundtables developing ways to support local community initiatives in their states www.telestructure.com
According to CA State Librarian, Susan Hildreth: "Libraries are becoming the digital hubs of our communities, where high-speed connections and information intersect with community.”
The Sausalito Workshop will also explore expanded tech-related roles for libraries with regard to demonstrating & testing new technologies as well as supporting their community’s information and communication needs for disaster preparedness and other E-government support services.
"Public libraries are facing a bandwidth crisis as they struggle to stay abreast of a rapidly growing demand for Internet access to E-government, emergency services, health information, and a wide range of other information sources and services," said Rick Weingarten, Director, Office for IT Policy, American Library Association.
The Sausalito Workshop will explore and propose strategies for rapid deployment and identify possible enabling roles at all levels of government from national to local. There will be a special focus on the potential for state governments to support local initiatives and act as aggregator or as mediator for federal support.
“Make connecting every public library in the country with fiber-based internet by 2010 a national goal and a key component of a new national broadband strategy. The idea is simple, measurable and doable,” says Don Means, Principal at Digital Village and F2L Workshop host. “If we connect every library, we’ll quickly have fiber within a “mile” of every residence and since libraries are open to all, it will be effectively even closer.”
The event will be supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. It will also be co-sponsored by the Office for IT Policy, American Library Association.