The Possible End of Net Neutrality: Wither the Library?

Pun intended. Lynne Bradley, the director of government relations at the American Library Association, writes (boldface mine):

Net neutrality is really important for libraries because we are, first of all, in the information business. Our business now is not just increasingly, but dramatically, online, using digital information and providing services in this digital environment. That means that we need to have solid and ubiquitous Internet services….

We can’t afford to pay more [to ISPs]. As public institutions, we’re being threatened with limited resources and are trying to provide the best possible service we can given the access we currently have. Being slowed down hurts the American public because our institutions will not be able to compete, if you will, and the American public will not have comparable or equal access to the resources that are provided by libraries or other public institutions…

we are one of the main places that the public who does not have access to the high-speed Internet in their homes can go online. Use has been growing for many years, and now our online services rival more traditional services like book lending. Access to the Internet in general is a major component of how we serve the public.

It’s not just libraries, but community colleges that will be hurt too:

…we know that most of our users and our institutions cannot afford the higher speeds to be able to provide our services along with those that I will euphemistically call the “big guys.”

Take a local community college. What is it going to have to pay to compete with Kaplan or other for-profit schools? It’s just not going to work. We don’t just have connections like individual homes. We need major pipelines and major speed to provide the services that we do.

Future generations, assuming they can still read, will wonder how we could allow rent extraction deny the most vulnerable basic services. And then they will condemn us for it.

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1 Response to The Possible End of Net Neutrality: Wither the Library?

  1. Horace Boothroyd III says:

    Meh. I have a hard time getting too worked up over this particular issue because we already pay way too much for way too crappy service due to the monopolistic structure of the “competing” ISPs. Why people get all hysterical over this little sliver of Net Neutrality loss, when they just lie back and take it from the elephant in the room, is beyond me.

    Libraries are wonderful places and are terribly important, and it’s awful that they are getting the short end of the stick, but this particular article fails to prove its point.

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