Libraries and Broadband Policy: From Internet Providers to Policy Leaders

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  • For two decades libraries served as critical community linkages by being not just providers, but leaders in enabling internet access. Early initiatives such as the Community Access Program (CAP) and Alberta Supernet made libraries key access points. However, recent broadband policy developments serve to de-centre the library as internet gateway. The CAP program has ended, and increasingly governments are focusing on household/individual access. The federal 700MHz spectrum auction, and recent provincial initiatives in Alberta are focused on connecting individuals and households, not libraries. These broadband policy developments create an environment where the library will be of decreasing importance as a community internet hub. How will librarians respond to these changes? The solution is for libraries to become more engaged in broadband policy development, particularly in areas outside those traditionally conceived of as library issues. Particularly important is the role the library community can play in shaping spectrum policy as the future of internet moves from wired connections to wireless ones. Librarians must become important advocates for community access and rural deployment of services as the broadband policy emphasis moves from connecting communities. The research for the presentation was funded by the Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) Networks of Centres of Excellence

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    Conference/Workshop Presentation
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    Attribution 3.0 International