Program on Networks

Networks are the core infrastructure that enable public access to information. At physical libraries, networks provide access to information resources within a library building, a library system, and around the world. Because of the proliferation of networks, library users are increasingly demanding services from outside of the physical library, whether at homes, schools, workplaces, or when in transit. Ubiquitous, convenient access to networks is essential for the public’s access to information.

The scope of the Program on Networks includes all aspects of networking related to libraries and public access to information, from technical, operational, managerial, and user-interface topics to social, economic, legal, and political considerations. Achieving reasonable access depends on networks that are available, affordable, sufficiently capable, easily managed, supported by effective inter-library and cross-sectoral institutions, and supported by public policies and practices that are consistent with library core values.

Major Areas of Focus

  • Conduct, facilitate, and encourage research on improving network access for libraries.
  • Develop and make available educational programs, information resources, and consulting services that enable the library community to obtain more effective and cost-efficient network capabilities.
  • Advocate for policies and practices that support widely available, increasingly capable, and affordable network access.
  • Advocate for strengthening Federal programs that provide financial support to libraries for Internet access and broadband connectivity (e.g., the E-rate program).
  • Promote the use of collaborations and cooperative mechanisms to advance the deployment of improved connectivity for libraries.
  • Monitor and respond to technological and policy challenges in the networking arena to the library profession’s core values of equity of access, intellectual freedom, and the objective stewardship and provision of information. Relevant issues include network neutrality, universal service, and privacy, among many others.
  • Submit comments to the federal government in response to formal requests for input.