My colleagues, Chris Ritzo, Jie Jiang, and I have a new article, titled “Measuring Library Broadband Networks to Address Knowledge Gaps and Data Caps” that was just published in the journal, Information Technology and Libraries. The journal is part of the American Library Association’s Core: Leadership, Infrastructures, Futures division.
Here is the abstract for the paper from the journal website:
“In this paper, we present findings from a three-year research project funded by the US Institute of Museum and Library Services that examined how advanced broadband measurement capabilities can support the infrastructure and services needed to respond to the digital demands of public library users across the US. Previous studies have identified the ongoing broadband challenges of public libraries while also highlighting the increasing digital expectations of their patrons. However, few large-scale research efforts have collected automated, longitudinal measurement data on library broadband speeds and quality of service at a local, granular level inside public libraries over time, including when buildings are closed. This research seeks to address this gap in the literature through the following research question: How can public libraries utilize broadband measurement tools to develop a better understanding of the broadband speeds and quality of service that public libraries receive? In response, quantitative measurement data were gathered from an open-source broadband measurement system that was both developed for the research and deployed at 30 public libraries across the US. Findings from our analysis of the data revealed that Ookla measurements over time can confirm when the library’s internet connection matches expected service levels and when they do not. When measurements are not consistent with expected service levels, libraries can observe the differences and correlate this with additional local information about the causes. Ongoing measurements conducted by the library enable local control and monitoring of this vital service and support critique and interrogation of the differences between internet measurement platforms. In addition, we learned that speed tests are useful for examining these trends but are only a small part of assessing an internet connection and how well it can be used for specific purposes. These findings have implications for state library agencies and federal policymakers interested in having access to data on observed versus advertised speeds and quality of service of public library broadband connections nationwide.”
The paper is available for download on the journal’s website.