Not long ago, I blogged here about how many libraries have seen an uptick in demand for their free Internet access as a result of burgeoning unemployment rates. Well, a co-worker dropped the local section of the San Jose Mercury News on my desk last week because of a front-page article that expands on the topic.
The article discussed the Santa Clara Country Library and how they've actually had to shut down public access computers due to the high demand, because their less-than-ideal bandwidth has caused a bottleneck in their ability to provide other critical library services. They've already shut down 1/3 of their more than 400 public access computers to free up network capacity. All this, despite the higher demand from community members who are out of work and need computers to conduct their job searches and many others who've reported that they had to cut their home Internet access because money is tight.
According to one librarian, "The bandwidth is our big bottleneck. Demand has increased exponentially since last fall. It just outpaced us." An IT manager for the library system had this to say about the bandwidth problem, "The bandwidth required for today's user is massive compared to even two years ago. We've seen 200-700 percent increased for just storage for bandwidth."