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“US Ignite” Highlights Library and Museum Potential for High-Speed Broadband Applications

June 20, 2012

Last week, the White House announced the new US Ignite Partnership ( which will create a national network of communities and campuses with ultra-fast, programmable broadband services, operating at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. This network will become a test-bed for designing and deploying next-generation applications to support national priorities areas such as education, healthcare, energy, and advanced manufacturing. US Ignite challenges students, startups, and industry leaders to create a new generation of applications and services that meet the needs of local communities while creating a broad range of job and investment opportunities.

"Building a nationwide broadband network will strengthen our economy and put more Americans back to work," said President Obama in a statement issued by the White House. "By connecting every corner of our country to the digital age, we can help our businesses become more competitive, our students become more informed, and our citizens become more engaged."

IMLS was one of nine federal entities highlighted during the announcement. We will work to highlight how libraries and museums can use high-speed broadband to improve education, workforce, and health outcomes for millions of Americans. As part of US Ignite, we are identifying and sharing best practices.

Some examples:

Cuyahoga County Public Library is partnering with Case Western Reserve University and One Community to bring a one-gigabit broadband connection to the new Warrensville Height branch, serving 20,000 residents from an economically disadvantaged community

Rutgers University Libraries is a lead partner on the Video Mosaic Collaborative (VMC), an NSF-funded initiative to create an portal to enable teachers and researchers to analyze and use over 20 years of classroom videos to transform mathematics research, teaching, and learning.

San Francisco Public Library is developing a Teen Media Learning Lab in partnership with local education, museum, technology, and media organizations, to create a free, seven-day-per-week, interactive digital media learning space for youth.

Grace Agnew, Associate University Librarian for Digital Library Systems, Rutgers University Libraries, attended the White House event. She was excited about the new direction for digital initiatives in the U.S. ”I really like the emphasis on bringing high speed broadband to cities and communities and developing new applications. I agree with the President that this will increase jobs and help us transform our high tech economy and continue our leadership in this area.”

One of the most exciting parts of the announcement for Dr. Agnew was an invitation from Mozilla and the National Science Foundation (  to design and build apps for the faster, smarter internet of the future with an open innovation challenge to show how next-generation networks can revolutionize healthcare, education, public safety, energy and more.

“At Rutgers, we definitely plan on participating in the Mozilla challenge,” she noted. “ I am thrilled that IMLS is stepping up and making these connections for us. It is important that people realize that the library is at the heart of any knowledge based economy and it is important that we have a seat at the table!”