The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services held a public hearing, “Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact,” to examine the need for high speed broadband in America’s libraries. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is charged with advising the President and Congress about the library, museum, and information service needs of the American public.

IMLS conducted this hearing to establish a public record about the impact of high speed broadband connectivity in America’s libraries. It will help inform policy discussions and strategies to support broadband in the nation’s libraries.

Video from the hearing is available on the IMLS YouTube page.


Read speaker biographies (PDF, 80KB)

Introduction, Opening Statement, and Welcoming Remarks

Watch video | Read transcript (PDF, 87KB)


Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Director, DC Public Library

IMLS Opening Statement:

Susan H. Hildreth, IMLS Director, joined by members of the National Museum and Library Services Board:

  • Christie Pearson Brandau of Iowa
  • Charles Benton of Illinois
  • Winston Tabb of Maryland
  • Carla Hayden also of Maryland

Opening Remarks:

  • Thomas Wheeler, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
  • Thomas Power, Chief of Staff, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce (on detail to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House, as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications)


Watch video | Read transcript (PDF, 77KB)

The Vision: What Happens When We Get It Right?  This panel will explore innovative practices and partnerships that are serving individuals and communities well.

  • Chris Jowaisas, Senior Program Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dionne Mack, Director, El Paso Public Library
  • Clarence Anthony, Executive Director, National League of Cities

Panel Two: THE DATA

Watch video | Read transcript (PDF, 88KB)

This panel will explore what we know about broadband connections and services in America’s libraries.  What are the metrics that we need to assess whether sufficient connectivity is in place?  What are the metrics that can be used to assess success?

  • Larra Clark, American Library Association
  • Miriam Jorgensen, M.P.P., Ph.D., Research Director, Native Nations Institute, The University of Arizona, and Research Director, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
  • John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., independent communications and technology policy consultant


Watch video | Read transcript (PDF, 90KB)

This panel will discuss solutions for high-speed connectivity in libraries.

  • Gary Wasdin, Executive Director, Omaha Public Library System
  • Eric Frederick, Executive Director, Connect Michigan
  • Linda Lord, Maine State Librarian


Watch video | Read transcript (PDF, 94KB)

Reed Hundt, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission


For the nation’s 123,000 school, public, research, and academic libraries and the millions of Americans they serve, it is vital that libraries have the high-speed internet connections the public demands for educational, cultural, health, and workforce information and services.  Presidential initiatives like Connect-Ed and the FCC Chairman’s call for modernization of the E-rate program have put a spotlight on the urgency to equip schools and libraries with high-speed broadband connections.  The Institute of Museum and Library Services has primary responsibility for the development and implementation of policy to ensure the availability of museum, library, and information services adequate to meet the essential information, education, research, economic, cultural, and civic needs of the people of the United States.  See 20 U.S.C. Section 9103(c)(1).  In carrying out this responsibility, IMLS is authorized to engage with Federal, State, and local government agencies and private entities in assessing current needs and coordinating the development of plans, policies, and activities to meet such needs effectively.  Id. at Section (c)(2).  Pursuant to the authority granted in 20 U.S.C. Section 9110, IMLS is conducting this public hearing for the purpose of establishing a public record specifically focused on the need for and impact of high-speed broadband connectivity in America’s libraries.

Event Location
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, DC
Date Time