OITP releases Fiber to the Library: How Public Libraries Can Benefit from Using Fiber Optics for their Broadband Internet

Contact: Jenni Terry

Press Officer

ALA Washington Office



For Immediate Release

June 29, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) of the American Library Association (ALA) releases

Fiber to the Library: How Public Libraries Can Benefit from Using Fiber Optics for their Broadband Internet Connections
,which articulates the benefits of fiber optic technology for public libraries and strategies to obtain such fiber connectivity. An important goal of this policy brief is to help applicants include “fiber to the library” in their federal broadband stimulus funding proposals under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Authors John Windhausen, ALA Consultant, and Marijke Visser, ALA Policy Analyst, address some of the basic issues involved in obtaining a fiber connection. They find that the cost of installing a fiber connection is often more reasonable than is sometimes assumed, and the benefits of laying fiber include creating jobs and providing "future-proof" connectivity that could accommodate libraries' telecommunications needs for decades.

“The ALA encourages every library to explore a fiber-based solution to their broadband needs –
especially now because of the opportunity afforded by the federal broadband stimulus funding,” said Carrie Lowe, Director of OITP’s Program on Networks.

“Broadband access to the Internet is enormously important to fulfilling the mission and role of libraries in the 21st century to serve the American public,” said Mary Alice Ball, Vice-chair of OITP’s Telecommunications Subcommittee. “People of all ages and backgrounds increasingly depend upon the local library’s public access computers and Internet access and support to search for jobs, take classes, complete homework assignments, obtain medical information, and receive government information and services.” Indeed, “public libraries, as community anchor institutions, are the pre-eminent public computing centers,” explained Dr. Ball.Â

“Unfortunately, the ability of local libraries to meet these community needs is in jeopardy because of the lack of adequate broadband capability,” said Bob Bocher, Chair of OITP’s Telecommunications Subcommittee. “And while there are a variety of broadband solutions, fiber optic technology is the best long-term investment that most libraries can make to help meet their bandwidth needs for decades into the future.”