UC2B Director Gant: Libraries Vital to Adoption, Usage in Gigabit Cities

Dr. Jon Gant, Director of the UC2B Broadband Adoption Program at the University of Illinois, called on libraries in gigabit cities to lead the way in public ultra-high speed adoption.

Gant spoke this week during a panel on Google Fiber at the Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas, Texas. UC2B is a grant-funded $31.2 million project to construct 187 miles of fiber-optic broadband to area community anchor institutions and support fiber-to-the-home services in four low-income neighborhoods.

Gant said there is a digital mismatch happening in fiber communities where broadband technology is outpacing community anchor institutions and public programs.

“Broadband represents progress,” he said. “It represents change. But sometimes we're trying to implement that into organizations that were set up for a few years ago - 10, 20 or 50 years ago. If we're going to move forward, there's a need to really understand how to make technical progress.”

Gant said that progress should start at public libraries, where it's important to develop a way to combine the “old school” library with a way to foster innovation.

“We need a new model where we want innovation to happen, where we want to bring in people with experience in the community and combine those things together to develop the library concept. Instead of just going to check out a book, it's a place of inspiration and a place of performance.”

Gant talked about the Chattanooga Public Library, where an entire floor has been dedicated to giving entrepreneurs gigabit-speed access.

Gant added that anchor institutions should focus on the specific information needs of the public when developing adoption programs.

Tags: Gigabit Cities, libraries, UC2B, University of Illinois

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