U.S. Public Libraries and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

In 2013, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence E. Strickling stated that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) had awarded more than $50 million in Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding to develop or expand public computer centers in libraries. ALA released a report (PDF) sharing library and community impacts from these investments, as well as other BTOP funding for sustainable broadband adoption and comprehensive community infrastructure. Shortly after, Strickling gave the keynote address at the School, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) conference, lauding libraries' accomplishments and announcing the release of the NTIA Broadband Adoption Toolkit. ALA's "U.S. Public Libraries and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program" is the first to highlight state and local library BTOP projects nationwide and the improvements they have made to public access technology resources, digital literacy, and workforce development. Library projects in 29 states and the District of Columbia are featured in the report.

E-Books and Libraries: An Economic Perspective

Written by renowned economists Drs. Stanley M. Besen and Sheila Nataraj Kirby, this report provides at least a partial answer to the question, "Does the publishing community understand why librarians would balk at increases on the order of 100% or 200%?." In the economic lexicon, price is determined by the library's "willingness to pay." Just what it sounds like – the price that a library is willing to pay for an ebook is determined by the perceived value accorded by library users and any additional costs that the library user must incur (in time and energy) to access the title. A big bonus for ebooks is that the library user is not required to visit the library to obtain and return ebooks. Another is that the library user does not have to bother with returning a book or paying a late fee because ebooks are never overdue. Library users don't have to lug along heavy books. In this sense, the library would be willing to pay more for an ebook than the comparable print book.

Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators

School librarians and educators have specific copyright questions that are often glossed over in larger books on the subject. Now, thanks to best-selling copyright authority Carrie Russell, there’s a resource just for them, offering clear guidance for providing materials to students while carefully observing copyright law. Using whimsical illustrations so well known from Complete Copyright, Russell

  • Offers detailed advice on the distinctive issues of intellectual property in the school setting
  • Explores scenarios often encountered by educators, such as using copyrighted material in school plays, band and orchestra performances, bulletin board displays, and student participation in social media
  • Precisely defines “fair use,” empowering readers by showing exactly what’s possible within the law

Balancing intellectual property law with the rights of school librarians and educators will be a snap with an assist from Complete Copyright for K–12 Librarians and Educators.

Making Connections

Making Connections: Lessons from Five Shared Library Networks
This publication profiles five library networks that have successfully upgraded their broadband connectivity. Providing users with no-fee public access to the Internet is increasingly vital to connecting people with ideas and information – a core mission of libraries. The case studies of these five networks reveal lessons learned that may be instructive for other libraries seeking to establish successful networks. This publication was developed as part of the Opportunity Online Broadband Grant Program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help libraries increase and sustain free, quality public access to computers for their patrons.

Regional Library Cooperatives

Regional Library Cooperatives & the Future of Broadband
October 2008
In January 2007, the American Library Association’s (ALA’s) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) undertook a Public Library (Internet) Connectivity Project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Connectivity Study Team visited seven states and conducted telephone interviews with six additional states. The process included holding focus groups and interviews with staff from state library agencies and existing library telecommunication networks, state E-rate coordinators, state economic development officials, telecommunication industry representatives, state legislative representatives, and practitioners from the library community.

The study identified Regional Library Cooperatives (RLCs) as one of the key players in enhancing high-speed broadband in libraries. Through collaboration, some small- and medium-sized libraries were able to pool their resources to better manage technology infrastructure, including improved administrative and technical expertise. This included assistance in applying for E-rate funding.

As a result of these findings, OITP organized an invitational meeting for selected RLCs that provide broadband services, in order to develop a model or models of how these cooperatives organized, implemented, and operated these services. The meeting also identified the most critical challenges faced by the RLCs and began a process for the development of mechanisms to share best practices.

Public Library Connectivity Study

Public Library Connectivity Study - Findings and Recommendations
M. Bard, N. Bolt, R. Weingarten, and J. Windhausen, July 2007
Over the last twenty-five years, as the Internet first emerged from the research community to become a major public medium for communication and information access, libraries have become crucial instruments for public participation in the global knowledge network. Nearly all public libraries in the United States now provide some form of public access to computing and Internet services.

The issue for most libraries has moved from one of getting connected to an even more difficult one of maintaining and improving the quality of service. The problem has become not basic connectivity, but obtaining and sustaining access to the Internet services and resources the public needs as the demands of the medium and its users grow rapidly. This problem is made particularly difficult by both the rapid growth of society’s dependence on the Internet and the increasing demands on computing and communication capacity as new and ever more complex Internet applications are brought on-line.

The challenges that providing quality Internet access presents to libraries are manifold, but one of the most crucial issues to emerge in recent years has become maintaining adequate connectivity or bandwidth. In some sense, the issue of adequate library connectivity reflects a broader national debate in the U.S. over the deployment of broadband. However, libraries have particular and immediate concerns that are at the same time both clearly related to their emerging societal role as access providers and an integral part of this broader discussion.

The purpose of this study was to examine in some detail the issues of library connectivity and to recommend some practical, immediate strategies that, while not solving the universal problem, will help libraries address the challenges they face.

Complete Copyright

Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide For Librarians
Carrie Russell, 2004
Chapter 1: Maggie Discovers Copyright

From Booklist:

"From ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy, this excellent addition to a library's professional collection views copyright through the prism of user rights. The use of a Creative Commons Deed License in place of the standard copyright notice exemplifies the fair and balanced copyright environment the book's focus promotes. Eight characters, from a fifth-grader to a university head librarian, help personalize the discussion. The eight chapters cover copyright basics, fair use, Section 108, first-sale doctrine, the TEACH Act (2002), public performances, interlibrary loan, course packs, artistic works, print and electronic reserves, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998), Internet-related issues, permissions, licensing, treaties, plagiarism, and advocacy. A clean layout, boxed highlights, room for notes, and a touch of humor contribute to the book's readability. As always, the information in the book should be reviewed with a library's legal advisor. Great companion to Rebecca Butler's Copyright for Teachers and Librarians [RBB F 1 05] and Carol Simpson's Copyright for Schools (3d ed., Linworth, 2000)."

- Esther Sinofsky, Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved.