Missouri State Librarian tells Congress b roadband connectivity and libraries essential to Americans

Contacts: Alston Roberts

ALA Washington Office




For Immediate Release

September 15, 2008

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, September 16, Missouri State Librarian Margaret Conroy will testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, focusing on the importance of high-speed broadband for libraries nationwide to better serve the public.

Representing the American Library Association (ALA), Ms. Conroy’s testimony emphasizes the variety of services that libraries provide to their patrons that depend greatly upon access to inexpensive, high-speed broadband. Examples of these essential services included career development assistance, homework help, educational resources, and access to online government information. "Broadband technologies play an increasingly vital role in enabling public libraries to provide essential services to all," Ms. Conroy says. "[This is] especially important for the ‘have-nots.’"

The traditional notion of a “quiet” library has changed significantly in the information age. Modern libraries are now very lively places at the forefront of communication and information technologies. "Because so many people do not have broadband, libraries are trying to meet all of the new demands that our patrons need because we are the only institution that they can come to for access," reports Conroy.

Ms. Conroy adds, "Studies show 98.9% of public libraries now provide Internet public access at no-fee, and 65.9% of public libraries also provide wireless Internet access for those patrons who bring their own laptop computers."

Ms. Conroy will share several compelling stories with the Committee from librarians in her home state, each example noting the vital use of broadband in delivering high quality service to their library patrons. Her testimony clearly demonstrates that public libraries need to be assured affordable access to broadband services in order to deliver the best possible information technologies to the public.

The hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will be held on Tuesday, September 16, 2008, Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building, Delaware Ave. and Constitution Ave., Washington, DC, 10:30 a.m.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 66,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.