WASHINGTON, June 12, 2009 – More than two-dozen separate organizations joined to reinvigorate the public library as a community “watering hole” for broadband access as the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition held a launch event Thursday at Washington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library .
The coalition grew out of a realization that the Internet is now a “fundamental cornerstone of modern education, learning…and the dissemination of information of free speech,” said director Jim Windhausen.
The goal of the coalition is to direct Broadband Technology Opportunity Program funding to anchor institutions in unserved areas, particularly schools, libraries, and health facilities.
While Jenni Terri of the American Library Association said that the economic stimulus funds are “only seed money,” ALA’s hope is that the coalition can stand for the long term as a continual advocate for universal broadband.
Libraries are “interconnection points” that should be treated as integral “linchpins of connectivity,” said Microsoft Regulatory Counsel Paula Boyd. And hospitals will be a growing consumer of high-speed networks as telemedicine becomes more widespread in the American health care system, said American Hospital Association Senior Associate director of policy Rod Piechowski.
With growing demand, BTOP funding can allow health care providers to show how they are using technology “in a meaningful way,” he said.