NEKLS libraries have been leaders and innovators since 1999 in providing broadband Internet service to their communities, but rapid Internet access is a goal that is constantly changing. Some of us remember when that first 64k KanREN connection seemed fast! Consider all the changes in Internet use: NExpress, gaming, social networking, and online unemployment and tax filing to name a few. Those constant changes in Internet based services require Internet bandwidth that matches that increased use. Kansas is now in the midst of a Gates Foundation sponsored project to assist in upgrading and sustaining library Internet connectivity. What will that mean for NEKLS libraries?
- State standards for adequate Internet bandwidth. This will not be a “one size fits all” standard, but a chart that suggests achievable goals for adequate bandwidth based on population served, number of computers, and other factors. Many NEKLS libraries will already meet these goals. For others, this will be a goal to work toward.
- Meaningful technology planning. NEKLS will work with libraries to develop technology plans that help libraries to thoughtfully consider all of the library’s technology needs, including Internet bandwidth. These plans should also be a tool for libraries to seek community support for bandwidth upgrades.
- Funding to sustain broadband access. NEKLS and the State Library will be working with libraries to seek funding from all sources to sustain top quality Internet service in NEKLS libraries.
This project is just beginning, and I am confident it will enable NEKLS libraries to continue to be leaders in providing Internet access.