Libraries address the challenges of Internet connectivity for their patrons in several ways. One high profile project led by NY Public Library loaned 10,000 mobile hotspot devices to households in the city, and it was accompanied by a smaller effort to do the same through rural libraries in Maine and Kansas. Hotspot lending programs can enhance the ways that both metro and rural libraries participate in the national digital platform.
The speaker will discuss the qualitative and quantitative data from her work with NYPL and with 24 rural libraries offering hotspot lending programs. Her research focuses on the users of the programs, local community stakeholders, and policy implications for broadband deployment. The long term research outcomes will contribute both theoretical and practical knowledge addressing (1) the role of rural and metro libraries in their information ecosystems; (2) if and how loaned hotspots contribute to users? quality of life, digital literacy and social capital; and (3) how such programs interact with other anchor institutions and their services (schools, government, etc.) within their communities.
Sharon is the Philip G. Warner Regents Professor in Communication and former Chair of the Radio-TV-Film Department at the University of Texas, where she teaches communications and telecommunications courses and directs the Technology and Information Policy Institute. Some of her current research projects examine local and statewide networks and broadband services; the relationship between economic outcomes and investments in digital media programs in higher education; social media; the digital divide; rural broadband deployment; e-government; telecommunications infrastructure deployment and economic development in rural regions; and market structure and policy issues for international audio-visual industries. One of her recent projects examined public computing centers in 90 locations. Another investigates "connected viewing," referring to the use of numerous devices, platforms and program sources for media entertainment. She also directs a Digital Media program as part of a broader collaboration effort between the University of Texas at Austin and the government of Portugal. In 2010 she stepped down from her eight-year stint chairing the RTF Department in order to work on the USDA's Broadband Initiatives Program in Washington D.C., after which she returned to the University of Texas.
8:15am to 9:30am