Tuesday evening, as I was getting ready for my monthly meeting about lack of coverage by Verizon for high speed internet access - on my road and many others in the small hilltown I live in, I got a phone call from Boston's Logan Airport. A man asked me if I would be willing to be filmed for a "library technology summit" to be held in Massachusetts at the beginning of May. He works for Connected Nation and was working on a presentation to be shown to public officials and librarians. He had heard about me from Jessica who works for the local Pioneer Valley Connect.
You all know how I still have dial-up. The longer I have it, the more frustrated I become, knowing that most of the USA does have high speed internet access. My frustration became even more amplified in December when Verizon hooked up many of the residents of my small town. They passed my road by and have no plans to bring the service here, as far as my neighbors and I can tell. You can read more about this here. A few of us who have been passed by have formed a local group to see if somehow, some way, we can get Verizon to move on bringing us high speed internet access.
I have had to move my professional life forward. Writing books requires me to have an active visual blog and recently I have been making some video tutorials. Needless to say, it is pretty impossible to do all this with dial-up. When Bernardston's Cushman Library staff started talking about getting broadband WIFI for patrons, I became excited to say the least. About a year ago, they got this service and I bought myself a laptop so I could use their WIFI. I sit in my car, outside the library in the snow, in the heat, early and late in the day and do what I need to do with their high speed internet access. I can't believe how much easier this has made my life and time spent on the internet - even if I have to drive 20 minutes one way to the town next door. I usually combine my "library-high speed access" trip with errands to the post office, the grain store, and the general store so it works for me. The WIFI at Bernardston's library has made me become more tech savvy and I have been able to develop new products for posting and selling on the internet. I can download large files for proof reviews, I can up-load video and graphic files to be printed. None of this is possible with dial-up.
Last week, two lovely young men from Nashville, TN came with a whole car-load of camera, sound and lighting equipment and I told my story. The Gates Foundation has funded a grant to bring high speed internet access to every Massachusetts local library. They are going to play my story for local librarians and public officials so that they can see how important having high speed internet access is for all town libraries.
Although I was very busy with a book deadline, I had to do this. I feel so strongly that every citizen in the USA should have high speed internet access - if they want it. I'm still bewildered and maddened that Verizon didn't come down our road. I liken not having high speed access to the internet in 2009 to not being able to get indoor plumbing or telephone service in the last century. We may live in the country, but we are very 21st century here. There are so many self-employed people living in western Massachusetts who depend on the internet for keeping their lives going. WIthout high speed internet service, it is incredibly difficult to compete in the wired world of 2009.
I hope my little bit will help convince librarians and public officials that having high speed internet access is important for every small town's library - even in this time of small towns not wanting to fund their libraries - but that's another post which I plan to write about shortly!