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Format: 2018-09-21

New York City's Library Chiefs Urge Congress to Oppose Repeal of Net Neutrality Protections




(This op-ed, co-written by Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott; New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx and Brooklyn Public Library President Linda E. Johnson was published Dec. 13, 2017 in The Verge)

Since their inception, public libraries have fought to ensure that all people — regardless of their background or beliefs — have access to knowledge, education, and opportunity. That noble mission hasn’t changed, even as technology has. In addition to books and other materials, public libraries in every community in our great country are providing access to the computer and the internet, technology training classes, tablets, laptops, and more, offering everyone the tools they need to improve their lives, strengthen their communities, and succeed. Libraries are at the foundation of the American dream. The recent proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to abandon current net neutrality rules stands in direct opposition to this vital work. The proposal essentially gives broadband providers financial incentive to govern the openness of the internet, paving the way for models in which consumers pay for priority access, and those who can’t pay are limited to a “slow lane.”

Without the current protections, the already yawning digital divide will be widened. We know in New York City, millions of families cannot afford broadband access at home. These families are in our branches, borrowing Wi-Fi hot spots, or using our public computers to do homework, pay bills, apply for jobs, or communicate with relatives. For these New Yorkers, the 216 library branches across the city are their only option for access to technology. For the FCC to place internet access — something that in today’s world is a necessity, not a luxury — even further out of reach is appalling.

As strong advocates for and guardians of the right for people to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction, New York City libraries cannot possibly support such a measure.

For us, though, it’s more than just principle. We, too, would potentially need to pay broadband providers extra so our content can be delivered on the same terms as commercial content providers. For public libraries — most of which are government agencies or nonprofits — this could be a serious burden, as we deliver large amounts of video to our patrons, have users remotely accessing collections at home, we offer hundreds of expensive databases to the public for free. As libraries will increasingly collect digital assets, these costs will increase.

In other words, this proposal directly impacts the public’s ability to access library collections and materials — the very tools that have helped even the playing field for so many in this country for centuries.

To see who will be affected, simply walk into any New York City library branch. See the students who literally cannot do their homework without our computers. See the parents and caregivers who are learning English and applying for jobs online to improve their circumstances. See the higher education students, independent researchers, and scholars who need our databases and online collections to further scholarship. Imagine how frustrated they will be, how demoralized, that they can no longer access what they need.

Critics of net neutrality are quick to point out that it could stifle innovation. Why, for example, would a cable company invest in having the highest speed data network if it could not reap the financial rewards of selling premium access to that higher speed data? These critics say the new proposal values private investment and innovation over government intervention.

Those are weak arguments. In reality, far more technology companies are financially incentivized to spur innovation around high-speed internet than just the telecom and cable companies who own the infrastructure. The consumer demand to deliver uninterrupted streaming of the hottest new Netflix show or multi-player access to the latest PlayStation game will keep internet speeds humming with or without net neutrality.

This proposal is not about public versus private investment in innovation. It is the sanctioning of inequality, which is a far greater risk to future innovators than open internet. Libraries cannot stand by and watch it happen. We urge Congress to please voice its opposition to this measure, and put the rights of the American people above the financial gain of broadband companies.



Kanopy Film Streaming Service Now On Tap At Queens Library



Wednesday, December 13, 2017


With New Film Collection, Queens Library Expands Its Cinema Coverage in Time for the Holidays with More Than 30,000 Foreign-Language Films, Indies, Documentaries, Instructional Videos from The Great Courses, Classics from the Criterion Collection and More

          JAMAICA, N.Y. (December 13, 2017) _ Queens Library today began offering to any cardholder more than 30,000 acclaimed foreign-language films, award-winning documentaries, instructional videos and classic movies for free through Kanopy, the San Francisco-based, on-demand video streaming service.

          “Our goal is to offer innovative and thought-provoking books, classes, services and materials that help people succeed in their lives and achieve their dreams,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “Kanopy provides an incredible collection of films that is sure to satisfy anyone with a strong appetite for great story lines and learning. And with the holidays upon us, the timing could not be better for our customers to try out this fantastic service.”

          Kanopy is available on any device with access to the internet via queenslibrary.kanopy.com, or by downloading the Kanopy app for iOS, Android, AppleTV, Chromecast or Roku. Those who do not have a Queens Library card can still watch Kanopy movies with a Queens Library e-card, and apply for one through the library’s website. Queens Library standard and e-cardholders can stream up to six movies per month.  Kanopy a;sp provides captions and transcripts and JAWS screen readers for those with visual and/or hearing difficulties.

          Called a “garden of cinematic delights,” by The New York Times, Kanopy showcases well-known and hard-to-find titles through collections such as Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Samuel Goldwyn, The Orchard, The Great Courses, PBS and thousands of independent filmmakers.

         Also included are a number of films that are set in and about Queens, such as the Tribeca Film Festival winner, “Between Us,”  the acclaimed historical drama, “Leonie”, and L.A. Outfest winner, “Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House,” among many others.


About Kanopy

Kanopy was founded in 2008 by CEO Olivia Humphrey as an educational tool for 3,000 colleges and universities worldwide, and is now available to public library systems around the globe. More than 5 million Kanopy users stream the most acclaimed movies and documentaries from award-winning filmmakers, and experience the best in independent, classic film, and world cinema.

About Queens Library

Founded in 1896, Queens Library is an independent, non-profit public library system and one of three serving the City of New York. It consists of a Central Library and 62 community libraries that attract more than 11.2 million visitors each year. Queens Library is one of the highest circulating library systems in the nation and among the busiest in the world. Visit online at: http://www.queenslibrary.org/


NYCitizenship Information Sessions


Queens Library has partnered with the NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs to bring you NYCitizenship, a program to assist New Yorkers along the path to citizenship.

Attend our upcoming information sessions to learn how to apply for citizenship easily; the benefits of becoming a citizen; and how to receive financial counseling.

Tuesday, December 19
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Jackson Heights Community Library

35-51 81st Street

Broadway Holiday Magic!


Don't miss this evening of holiday favorites, Broadway classics, and original tunes by award-winning composer and lyricist Bobby Cronin ("Mary & Max"), featuring some of Broadway's brightest talent, including Anne Brummel (Elphaba in "Wicked"), Chase Crandell ("Mary & Max"), Javier Ignacio ("Side Show" on Broadway), Alicia Krakauer ("Kiss Me Kate"), and Kyle Scatliffe (most recently in Broadway revivals of "The Color Purple" and "Les Misérables").

Monday, December 11
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Queens Central Library

89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica

Newtown Literary for Kids!


Kids and tweens: do you love reading, hearing, and telling stories?

Then come to this Newtown Literary creative writing workshop for kids ages 8-12!

We often imagine characters in our head, but don't give them enough attention when we write about them. Starting with just one small detail, you’ll use your imagination and powers of observation to create your own fun and interesting character!

Register for This Workshop

Saturday, December 9
3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ridgewood Community Library