Minnesota Broadband Task Force Sept 2013: Full Notes


Today I attended the Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting. It was all about libraries, which is up my alley. (I was a librarian years ago!) I have to say the librarians made my life very easy by putting everything into one PPT, which I have shared below.


Otherwise it was great to see the libraries get to show off some of their good work. The libraries are a bridge between the digital divide. They provide computers and Internet access to folks who would not otherwise have access (I think most folks know that) but they also lift any and all patrons up the ladder of sophisticated use. They provide social media training to businesses. They allow patrons to use Skype and other tools. Each library system in Minnesota has an app! Librarians are early adopters.


As Jennifer Nelson stated, their mission hasn’t changed – just the format. They still bring information to people and people to information!


9:30 Pre-meeting coffee and rolls served by Friends of the Douglas County Library


10:00 Welcome by Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson


A gracious welcome to the community – a reminder of a wine stomp in town next weekend. We have most amenities that you’ll find in a big city. And if we don’t have it, let us know and we’ll get it.


10:10 Introductions/ Approval of Minutes


10:20 Public Comments





10:30 Presentation “Introducing Libraries” –  Jennifer Nelson, State Library Services


Libraries connect people to information. There has been a huge change in the last 25 years. IN the 1960s we were early adopters. Our role changes in format, not mission!


  • There are 125 McDonalds
  • There are 48 workforce center
  • There are 360 public libraries. 26 million visitors in 2012 in MN
  • There are about 500 adult education centers.
  • Average number of Internet workstations – 13.7
  • Percent of Always sufficient Internet workstations 36.3%
  • Increase in use over prior year (2011-2012) 71.8%
  • Percent of libraries with maximum Internet speed greater than 30 Mbps 2%


10:45 Presentation “Libraries Respond to the Digital Landscape” – Melinda Ludwiczak, Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA)


  • Public Libraries Provide Digital Access
  • Core library service
  • Public libraries are key element of Minnesota’s digital infrastructure
  • 20% of American adults have no broadband or smart phone connection
  • When people use technology at their public library, their lives improve
  • Each library system has its own app – purchased collectively


Stats from the Minnesota Public Libraries’ Return on Investment Study


  • $4.62 = Return on Investment
  • $898,041,512 = Libraries’ Total Value
  • $260,814,618 = Economic Impact of Operations Payroll
  • $366,485,456 = Economic Impact of Operations Services
  • 3,674 = Economic Impact of Operations Jobs
  • $194,498,300 = State and Local Government Support


Questions: Are the online resources available in smaller communities too?


We have been looking at broadening the scope – but funding is an issue.


Northstar Digital Literacy Standards­


–        In rural areas there has been an increase in proctoring of digital literacy tests.




–        Could classes be a cost recovery plan for the libraries?


–        Could fund be developed from coworking spaces?


11:30 Presentation “The Future is Today” – MaryAnn Van Cura, State Library Services


12:00 Lunch


We also heard from Gail Hedstrom, Library Director for Thorson Memorial Library in Elbow Lake. I wanted to include the video (really only good for audio) because I think it’s helpful to hear from the frontlines.



12:30 Presentation “Leveraging Resources for Digital Access: Making it Work” – -Peg Werner, Viking Library System


E-Rate covers about 55% of broadband access in libraries.


We are often asked – are you sure that you’re getting the best bargain? We often get to work with local folks but the bid goes out to everyone.


1-to-1 device plans give people a reason to go to the library.


2014 Legislative Session (hopefully to fund to 2016):


–        $6 million increase to Telecom Equity Aid for k12 schools – total $9.75 million


–        $2.2 million increase to Regional Library Telecom Aid for public libraries – total $4.5 million


1:15 Presentation “Proposed E-Rate Changes” – Speaker invited to discuss the FCC proceeding


E-Rate program developed by 1996 Telecom Act. First funding 1998. School and libraries get discounts – 60-90% on


–        party one services: telecommunications, telecom services and Internet access;


–        party two service: Internal connection and maintenance.


In July FCC announced potential changes – goals include:


  1. Affordable access to libraries & schools
  2. Maximize cost effectiveness
  3. Streaming administration of program


Currently accepting comments – in fact specifically asking lots of questions:


–        Is 1 Gig enough?


–        Is 2020 a good year?


–        Is fiber the way to go?


–        What services can we eliminate? (Such as paging?)




The Task Force may respond with questions or comments.


What’s the overall timing and what does the process look like?


We’re not sure. Comments are due Sept 16; replies due Oct 16. Meetings will follow. Or there may be another question gathering round.


Libraries need to plan based on rules established today.


1:35 “Final Thoughts” – Jennifer Nelson, State Library Services


Here is a library broadband fact sheet:




Libraries have a solid infrastructure. Libraries adapt and make it work. If we need to we will limit what people can do to save broadband. We don’t want to but we will if we have to.


1:50 Task Force Business – Review/approve outline for December report


Office of Broadband – interviews have been happening. Still on track or maybe even ahead of schedule for hiring by October 1.


Any thoughts for the Legislature? It will be a short session. We are doing a report. In the next week we need to look at the report outline and make sure we’re on track and all on board.


It would be nice to give a presentation demonstrating the difference in broadband speeds to policymakers.


Statistics and graphs are always nice. It might be nice to include demonstrations. An electronic version might make it easier to add links to more info.


2:00 Adjourn formal meeting


2:00 Library tours provided by Douglas County Director and others



This entry was posted in Minnesota Advisory Task Force, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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