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"Fiber to the Library” Supports Recovery Plan

"Fiber to the Library"- Connect the nation's 16,548 public libraries with fiber speed internet as the quickest, least expensive, most equitable way to deliver near universal access to high performance internet applications and resources that support the greatest number of economic recovery objectives while accelerating deployment of next generation broadband infrastructure.* Libraries have a pivotal role in support of economic recovery.

Public libraries with high performance internet connections can provide essential access to health information and remote education services. Librarians can help users find online information about job or contracting opportunities and work requirements. They can help anyone navigate the confusing array of proliferating online government services from national, state and local government agencies. Library facilities, from urban to rural, can serve as key anchor nodes for infrastructure deployment projects such as broadband and smart electricity grids. Neighborhood libraries are natural as demonstration and testing sites to help communities develop their own local infrastructure strategies and plans.

Libraries are unique among all public institutions in that they are open to anyone and nearly all library resources are free and readily accessible. From books in Ben Franklin's day to first generation broadband in the mid 90's, public libraries have played an historic role as early adopters of freely-shared information technology. As importantly, librarians have long served as personal guides to information seekers and knowledge explorers of all ages. What could be more valuable for life long learning in the digital age.

Estimated at an average of $20,000 per facility, there may be no bigger bang for the buck than to quickly and equitably provide high performance broadband to the nation's public libraries.

Supporting Recovery Priorities:
- Creates near universal anchor nodes in almost every geographical area to quickly extend high-performance broadband infrastructure.
 - Provides ideal demonstration facility for prospective users to experience (test drive) emerging communications-related technologies.
- Creates an optimum environment to engage civic discussion by using physical models and/or digital simulations of proposed and existing infrastructure projects of all types.

- An ideal community facility to demonstrate and test new energy technologies.
- Libraries can be civic meeting places to deliberate local (global) usage policies and goals.  
- Providing hands-on access to alternative energy sources will stimulate demand for new energy generating technologies like solar panels. Demonstrating benefits of efficient usage practices like increased building insulation will both lower energy consumption and promote local green energy policies.  "Fiber to the Green Library"

- Becomes the physical community hub for assisted yet self-directed learning. -Uniquely provides a free & open learning environment to all: especially seniors, pre-schoolers, after-schoolers, home-schoolers and people with no other access to internet.  
- Provides remote access to college courses and other educational and training opportunities.
- Serves as national standardized technology testbed for high performance communications network deployments to more numerous schools, community health centers, public computing centers or other training and education facilities from rural to urban. 

- Provides access & guidance to finding online to health information, delivering health services esp. to rural areas, as well as help navigating other online government health services.  
- Gives point of access to online health support and disease discussion groups.  
- Information about possible local public health threats and preventative measures.

Jobs search & skills development
- Provides neighborhood access with personal assistance to find online information like jobs data bases or help filing job applications. 
- Provides access to resources for new skills development using high definition, 2-way video for training, interviewing and conferencing. -Provides a similar guidance and point-of-access service to all types of e-gov services at every level of government from jobs data bases and application forms to access to online contract bidding by small businesses.



- Natural first responder as hardened communications and critical information facility for disaster preparedness and recovery.  Could act as area hub for autonomous emergency citizens voice and data networks as supplement to public safety networks.

* This recommendation builds on the work of 4 years of the Community TeleStructure Initiative (CTI) which challenges all communities, as unique and distinct markets, to take responsibility for local telecommunications infrastructure planning. This recommendation further expands  CTI's 2 yr-old "Fiber to the Library" proposal in collaboration with American Library Association & Fiber to the Home Council to provide fiber speed connectivity to every library as a spearhead project for a new national broadband strategy.  

Community TeleStructure Initiative envisions the neighborhood local public library as: 

"Community Technology Hub" with new tech related roles:

- early adopter, advanced technology demo site to stimulate market demand 

- face of e-gov't, human guide to help navigate a multitude of online federal, state & local government services

 - first responder, hardened communications & information capabilities for disaster readiness and recovery.

To fulfill this promise, each community should be challenged to match new public grants by providing equipment such as computers, video conferencing as well as the critical support for library staff development and the community volunteers essential to healthy community libraries.

Don Means, Director
Community TeleStructure Initiative
Facilitator: Digital Village Associates  
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