Arkansas Librarian Laments State of Rural Broadband at Senate Hearing

Contact: Andy Bridges
Communications Director, ALA Washington Office
For Immediate Release
August 28, 2007

Arkansas Librarian Laments State of Rural Broadband at Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON — Today, David Burdick, Director of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System in Arkansas, testified on the insufficiency of broadband in Arkansas libraries before a field hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The hearing - “The State of Broadband in Arkansas” - was organized by Senator Mark Pryor and featured several prominent figures in Arkansas leadership. Burdick testified to the difficulties in library connectivity at his local branches.

“Although nearly all Public Libraries in Arkansas are connected to the Internet, there are many of our small rural libraries where this connection is through dial-up, a dedicated 56k line, a DSL line, or a connection through the local cable television company,” Burdick said in his testimony. “This is not adequate, and unfortunately is typical of small, rural libraries throughout Arkansas.”

ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) has identified broadband as one of its primary concerns and has been working on this issue for several years, and recently even submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission (PDF).

“Our extensive research over the past several months, which included trips all over the country, corroborates everything Mr. Burdick said in his testimony, and what is happening in Arkansas is reflected nationally,” said Alan Inouye, Director of OITP. “But with librarians speaking out like this, hopefully we can continue to address the problem of inadequate connectivity, which is affecting thousands of citizens every day.”

Read Burdick's testimony here. (PDF)

To learn more about this issue, please visit the ALA Washington Office's Broadband page.