Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Steven Schechter
Director of Government and Community Affairs, Brooklyn Public Library

Video Clip 1: Steven Schechter (NYC Council)

Video Clip 2: Steven Schechter (NYC Council)

Testimony before NYC Broadband Advisory Committee

• Representing BPL Executive Director Dionne Mack Harvin

• Thank members of Committee for providing BPL the opportunity to testify

• BPL recognizes the importance of its role as one of the City’s largest providers of free Broadband access. We know that for many in Brooklyn, we provide the only access to a PC and to the Internet.

• BPL has made a significant investment in new technology over the past several years ensure that we have system that meets the needs of our users – we have replaced every public PC, invested in network infrastructure to improve the reliability of our broadband connection and now provide free WiFi at every location for those with their own wireless devices. Let me talk about some basic facts about our system.

- We provide library service from 59 neighborhood branches, one within walking distance of every Brooklynite, and maintain a network of more than 1000 public PCs

- More than 1 million Brooklynites have an Access Brooklyn Card (ABC), Brooklyn Public Library’s card, which of course allows them to borrow books, but for many, more importantly, sign up for two free 30 minute sessions on a PC with Internet access every day

- Demand for the Internet usage we provide is demonstrated in the strong demand for this service. BPL provided library patrons 160,000 30-minute sessions per month in the most recent quarter – we are on a pace to provide almost 2 million Internet sessions in the Fiscal Year about to end in June.

• Anecdote - Statistics show the demand, but what we see every day at our libraries also shows the strong demand for access to the Internet – almost every morning before we open, and in the evening after we close, staff at the Central Library and at neighborhood libraries reports patrons with their own laptops and other wireless devices outside of our buildings – leaning on fences and sitting on stoops – taking advantage of the WiFi signal that we provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So while many patrons have their own laptops, many can’t afford or don’t want to make the investment in a high-speed internet connection at home. We think this really demonstrates the strong demand for broadband access in Brooklyn.