The Internet is an indispensable part of our daily work and life. However, access to this vast resource is sometimes taken for granted as not all individuals have consistent access to it. Fortunately, public libraries have taken on the role as the provider of public access to the Internet and computers, making them vital community anchor institutions for millions of people throughout the United States.
MCNC is a proud supporter and service provider for North Carolina Libraries.
As a client-focused nonprofit, we own and operate the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), one of America’s longest-running research and education networks. Libraries connected to our network are interconnected to other community anchor institutions including education, research, healthcare, and public safety. MCNC provides a wide array of service options for libraries in North Carolina, such as broadband Internet (including access to Internet2).
According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Internet access is the most sought-after public library service in the United States. Furthermore, public libraries offer broadband Internet connectivity at speeds that often exceed what is available at work or in the home.
There are 81 county, regional, and municipal library systems in North Carolina. On any given day, visitors stop by a reference desk at these facilities wanting to use the computers or connect to Wi-Fi as a guest. According to the most recent statistical data available, more than 30 million people visited a public library in North Carolina over the last year with nearly 5 million people using an Internet-connected computer.
In November, at NCREN Community Day 2019, we hosted an invitation-only conversation with North Carolina's State Librarian Timothy Owens. The engaging conversation discussed statewide broadband issues and initiatives, the library's role in supporting telehealth within its community, and other federal and state development priorities and policies.
Broadband through public libraries enables millions of people every year to have access to essential digital resources. This position of being a community access point for Internet access – particularly broadband access – appears to be of greater importance now than ever before. We look forward to continuing to work with our phenomenal libraries for the benefit of all citizens in North Carolina.