Michaud at Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) Celebration: Maine’s Public Libraries Doorways to Economic Opportunity
Maine state, congressional, business and community leaders gathered in the State House’s Hall of Flags last Friday to celebrate the completion of the Maine State Library’s $1.9 million Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) project which increased publicly available computer workstations at 107 public libraries by 40 percent and invested in a state-of-the-art video conferencing system that now links 14 public libraries across the state.
Maine is the nation’s second most rural state with 59.9 percent of the population liveingin rural areas. While an increasing number of services and employment opportunities are available online, many Maine residents lack available or affordable high-speed Internet access.
“We are here today to say thank you to everyone who has supported Maine’s public libraries. We are grateful for your support and together, with librarians across the state, we are working hard to ensure Mainers know their local public library is a place where they can find a book, a video – and also get free access to high-speed Internet and good, practical help finding a job.”
“National research tells us that at least 40 percent of American public library visits are for employment-related needs,”Lord said, referencing an American Library Association report released May 2, 2013. “Here in Maine, local librarians are absolutely committed to being on the front lines of economic recovery and opportunity, helping our neighbors access the tools, training and bandwidth they need to succeed in today’s economy.”
“The reality is that the old system of searching for opportunities – “Click, Review, Apply and Pray,” does not work anymore,” said Therrien. “What the Maine State Library created with the Information Commons project and Learning Express is a state-of-the-art, easy-to-access, easy-to-use ‘one-stop shop’ of common sense tools that can help any Mainer, in any part of the state, finding and landing employment and career opportunities.”
Statements of congratulations and support for the program were shared by staff of Maine’s Congressional delegation. U.S. Representative and possible 2014 Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud was in attendance and spoke to those assembled.
“Libraries have always been places of study, community, and creativity. Now, thanks to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the hard work of the Maine State Library, public libraries across our state are also doorways to economic opportunity. I am particularly pleased to see the special attention that has gone into reaching out to serve our Maine Veterans. We must do everything we can to help those who have served our country so honorably.”