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Online With Libraries improving connections in and beyond Alaska
Published: 05/31/2012 18:15:00
In today's increasingly digital world, internet connectivity is becoming more and more critical. Alaska Online With Libraries, "Alaska OWL", is a project to increase connectivity at 98 public libraries across the state, with 22 sites already online. New video conferencing systems were recently installed and bought online at the public libraries in Juneau.

Jonas Lamb is the Electronic Services Librarian at the Juneau Public Library, he told us about OWL. "The goal of the project largely, is to just try to level the playing field for Alaska. For years telephone connectivity has been subsidized throughout the country to try to keep people in rural areas and people experiencing poverty at least connected to phones. And now efforts are being made to basically extend that standard to internet service, basically reclassifying internet service as an essential utility that every American could enjoy because they can increase their ability to get a job, educate themselves; and so we think Alaskans deserve to be level on the playing field in terms of competing for jobs throughout the state and throughout the country. And we think that bringing these higher speed internet connections into the community libraries is a great opportunity to make strides towards that goal."

The Juneau libraries have already used the public videoconferencing system to talk to Senator Murkowski in Washington, visit a Dinosaur Museum in Canada, and Speak to NASA scientists in Texas and Colorado.

"The questions that they've been able to ask have been pretty outstanding, to be able to ask a NASA scientist what the tire prints on the Curiosity rover, what they actually imprint, on the soil of mars, because they had read a little bit about it on the NASA website. And the scientists were baffled by the question, but able to respond" said Lamb.

The system can be booked by the public and you can see a schedule of upcoming events at the Juneau Library's website linked below.

By: Mikko Wilson -