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[with apologies for cross-posting]

OTTAWA, November 16, 2001 - The Canadian Library Association (CLA) today announced formal support for the federal government's broadband initiative.  Libraries will play a key role as one of the major mechanisms providing broadband access to Canadians.

The CLA recently launched its national campaign to educate governments and the public on the importance of libraries in Canada's "innovation infrastructure" in the digital age. Expansion of broadband access to all communities is central to the success of Canada's innovation agenda.

Canada's public libraries have a long-standing tradition of satisfying the information needs of all citizens and protecting the citizens' right to know. In fact, according to the study Canadians, Public libraries and the Information Highway, conducted by Ekos Research, public libraries are ranked as the top public Internet access point. In the Network Age, this access to information is best delivered through broadband. In a submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee, the Canadian Library Association has said that high-speed Internet access in public libraries will not only enhance skill development and increased learning opportunities for all Canadians, but it will create an informed citizenry and foster social mobility and economic development.

"We have finally reached the point where technology allows our neighborhood library to become the point of entry to nearly all of the world's libraries," said Margaret Law, President of the Canadian Library Association. "And best of all, this world of information is freely available to all citizens, regardless of their ability to pay."

In June 2001, the National Broadband Task Force issued its report, recognizing that broadband technologies and applications have the potential to provide enormous benefits, including enhanced learning and skill development opportunities, for all Canadians. The task force's report also noted that this connectivity is most critical in those small communities that cannot access these services by any other means.

"Canadian libraries know from experience how broadband can affect real Canadians everywhere," said CLA Vice President Wendy Newman, and member of the National Broadband Task, "That is why we need to bring our governments, our private sector and our public institutions together to forge ahead and reap the huge benefits of national broadband access."

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is Canada's national library association, representing the concerns of some 57,000 individuals who work in library and information services. Its members are dedicated to the promotion of research and lifelong learning and provide a broad range of services to over 20 million library users.

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For more information, contact:

Wendy Newman, CLA Vice President
CEO, Brantford Public Library
Telephone: 519-756-2223 ext. 4

or

Vicki Whitmell
CLA Executive Director
328 Frank Street
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0X8
Telephone: 613-232-9625 ext 306
Fax 613-563-9895
Email: [log in to unmask]

Canadian Library Association
328 Frank Street
Ottawa, Ontario
CANADA K2P 0X8
(613) 232-9625; Fax: (613) 563-9895
http://www.cla.ca