Chattanooga Public Library set to upgrade to gigabit-per-second Internet

Chattanooga Public Library set to upgrade to gigabit-per-second Internet

April 7th, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Tracy Goodlow uses a computer at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library. The library plans to upgrade internet service in the near future.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Chattanooga's new library director wants a library worthy of its city.

To Corinne Hill, that means a gig library in a gig city, a library where anyone can use wireless communications to find what he wants.

Being a "gig city" refers to the fact that Chattanooga is the first city in the country to provide citywide gigabit-per-second Internet service through EPB's fiber-optic network.

Using that capability, Hill ultimately wants a library where patrons can download e-books quickly.

"I can't offer you an e-book if it's going to take you an hour to download," she said. "That's not service. That's torture."

The Public Library is in the middle of becoming a gig library - possibly the first in the nation. Chattanooga's library system is running neck and neck with the one in Kansas City, Mo., which is getting its gig service from Google, Hill said.

Hill compared the library's shift to gig service to Third World countries getting cellphone service immediately.

The Public Library's Internet is a Third World country, she said.

"We're kind of like Bangladesh right now," she said.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said a high-tech, high-service library could be used for recruiting potential residents, businesses and industries.

"It's a great point of pride," he said.

Mark Keil, the city's chief information officer, said the infrastructure for the library network should be completed within three weeks. A wireless facility would produce cost savings because the city's Information Technology Department won't have to replace wires throughout the building, he said.

The library also will save money because it will be on the city's gig account.

"[Hill] was in a 30-mph zone previously," he said. "Now she's on the Autobahn."

Hill said the extra bandwidth and wireless technology will result in efficiency and better customer service.

She said she would like to see the reference desk disappear and her employees accessible to the public at all times.

"I want them on the floor," she said. "And having a gig library would certainly be a step to that."

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