Internet, Connectivity and Broadband
Connectivity and broadband challenges are consistently presented to libraries, especially those in rural, northern and Indigenous areas. These areas do not have the needed infrastructure to support high-speed Internet access at the speed of at least 50 MB / second.
Libraries play a role as the greatest equalizer of services, regardless of where you live in Ontario. Libraries requires reliable Internet access in communities where home internet is not readily available, so that community members can access current information and news, participate in online learning and training, and gain technology literacy needed in many occupations.
In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared broadband Internet a basic service, just like current landline telephone service.
OLA with the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries is consistently advocating for better internet infrastructure for Ontario’s libraries. This includes the resources included bowl, submissions to public grants (Google Impact Challenge) and government funding (2017 Ontario Budget Talks). have participated in public consultations with the government of Ontario to advocate for investment in Ontario broadband infrastructure at Ontario public libraries:
- Written Submission to the Ministry of Infrastructure consultations with the Standing Committee of Economic and Finance (August 2020)
- Investing in Broadband Access through Ontario’s Public Libraries (February 2020)
- OLA & FOPL’s Joint Budget Submission 2020
- Government of Ontario – Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan
A ‘filter’ is a program that can prevent certain content on web sites from being made available or displayed. The most common use is to prevent content that could be deemed violent, inappropriate or pornographic from being viewed. Public libraries usually have a mix of filtered and non-filtered computer workstations available to both prevent children from accessing inappropriate content, and to ensure people are able to access the information they need. Libraries will have policies on Internet Filtering.
“Taking into account both the draft amendents to the OLA statement on the Intellectual Rights of the Individual [approved at the 1998 Annual General Meeting] and the legal opinion, the practical implication for libraries supporting the OLA’s draft statement would be that offering only filtered Internet workstations to the public would not meet the spirit of the OLA Statement on the Rights of the Individual or the Charter of Rights and
– OLA Intellectual Freedom Committee’s Report on Internet Access
The Internet Access Toolkit is a service of OLITA for the library community in Ontario and elsewhere to provide resources for offering Internet access on public stations. At the 1998 Annual General meeting in November, a resolution was passed that the Ontario Library Association develop a position statement on internet access and filtering in libraries. OLITA has been charged with helping develop this position. Following the OLA Intellectual Freedom Committee’s report, the OLITA guidelines for internet access stations are as follows:
- Libraries offering filtered workstations for certain age groups and individual patron preferences, should also make a “preponderance” of unfiltered workstations available in a large branch, and an equal number of unfiltered workstations available in a smaller branch.
- Libraries should develop and publicize Acceptable Use Policies (AUP), and make acceptance of these policies a crucial step in obtaining internet access.
- Stations limited to a targeted group of Internet resources, such as a specific database made available on the web, should not be considered “filtered” if the library is utilizing the web strictly as an access and interface tool rather than offering any kind of browsing environment.
- Certain kinds of activities, such as games, e-mail, and chat rooms, could be blocked or overall time limits can be established if based on “function” rather than “content”, that is, if the intent is to maximize limited computing resources for the greatest number of patrons.
The following resources may be useful in following these guidelines.
Acceptable Use Policies – Examples and Documentation
- Electronic Frontier Canada
- Public Library Examples
- University & College Examples