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Friday, June 10, 2011

Internet Access at your Library is Threatened. You Can Help.

WiscNet – A Key Partner for Schools and Libraries
Internet Access at your Library is Threatened. You Can Help.

What is WiscNet?
WiscNet is a non-profit agency that has been providing high-speed Internet access to Wisconsin’s research and education community since 1991. WiscNet has grown to include 450 members, including 75% of our public school systems and 95% of our public libraries. All of the UW-System campuses are members, and many other institutions of higher education are also members.
Why is WiscNet in Danger?
Last week the Joint Finance Committee of the State Legislature met to discuss efforts to keep the UW System intact, retaining the UW-Madison campus within the state system. As part of that legislation, the committee added language in sections 23-26 of that bill that has nothing to do with keeping the system together. Instead, it essentially destroys a healthy collaboration that provides Internet access to our universities, schools, and libraries.
How will this Impact Boscobel Public Library?
As a collaborative group, WiscNet has been able to provide high-speed access and support to the Internet for its members at an affordable rate. If the Southwest Wisconsin Library System to which our library belongs was not a member of WiscNet and had to pay the going rate from a provider such as AT&T or Norlight, the cost would likely be an additional $20,360 to $50,300 per year (figures based on Department of Public Instruction projections). That money has to come from somewhere and will affect services at our library and throughout the state.

Patrons could expect the following:
• Slower Internet connection and longer lines for computers
• Slower library catalog access and access to other online resources
• 30 – 100 fewer new DVDs in the library collection
• 60 – 120 fewer new books in the library collection
• A standstill in developing new technology services for patrons, such as ebooks and an overall decrease in children’s and adult programming

WiscNet is a great example of public entities working together to provide superior service while keeping costs under control. Eliminating such a program would greatly increase costs for WiscNet members, and will result in fewer services as each entity would be forced to pay higher fees. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with WiscNet - it is a great program. It works. Why terminate a program that will only benefit large corporations and hurt public agencies such as schools, libraries, and universities?

What Can You Do?
The Joint Finance Committee proposal will not benefit the education community. Instead, it will lead to diminished services and increased costs. They will assemble to vote on this bill on Tuesday, June 14.
Please help us educate our elected representatives and tell them to delete sections 23-26 of the University of Wisconsin System – Omnibus Motion.
Read the Omnibus Motion in its entirety. {Thank you to Hedberg Public Library for templating this information}

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