Suzanna Conrad

Information Professional

Gigabit Libraries @ CLA

This half-day workshop presented by the University of Illinois was an excellent discussion of attempts to create digitally inclusive communities in libraries utilizing high speed Internet. Jon Gant from the University of Illinois introduced the session and new initiatives to provide affordable access to the Internet to previously underserved communities. This access to high speed Internet also creates opportunities for developers to test and create next generation apps. Gant highlighted some of the initiatives of US Ignite, a program to overcome the challenges of developing for high speed networks by providing space to experiment and test without disturbing new networks. Gant invited three speakers from a few institutions to present case studies including Louis Fox from CENIC, Corinne Hill from Chattanooga Public Library and Grace Agnew from Rutgers University Libraries. Each speaker had a unique perspective and presentation.

Louis Fox discussed an ideal solution for libraries in which they could anticipate and meet patron needs, have the ability to predict costs annually, collaborate with other institutions and take advantage of economies of scale. His discussion of what could happen if bandwidth were not a constraint was particularly interesting as he presented examples of programs that increased collaboration, successfully met patron needs and even created more time for professional development opportunities.

Corinne Hill presented her journey to installing much faster Internet in Chattanooga Public Library, in a city where everyone else had gig Internet. She talked about repurposing library space for technology purposes, such as for development conferences, code camps, etc. She addressed her concern with the viability of a physical reference desk, an "altar to the librarians", and the need to give the reference librarians the tools to do their work in new environments.

Grace Agnew of Rutgers University Libraries presented their development of the RUAnalytic video analytic tool and their journey to create a community around math instruction videos. Most of the information they had collected was not in a usable form and the creation of the tool allowed them to make the data usable, while also creating new possibilities for analysis and research. Furthermore, they achieved a goal of transforming scholarly communication by developing a new way to share research and analysis without the time lag, static nature and inability to incorporate scaffolded analysis in traditional publishing.