Net Neutrality Day of Action: July 12, 2017

A Message from Adriene Lim, Dean of Libraries and Philip H. Knight Chair

The Internet is a vital conduit for many of the services and information resources that the UO Libraries provides for faculty, researchers, and students. Our digital collections and repositories, e-journals, licensed databases, streaming media, online education, and more -- all rely on neutral, high-speed Internet access.

In my leadership role with the University of Oregon Libraries, it is both my professional opinion and personal conviction that an open, neutral, and affordable Internet is essential for libraries and institutions of higher education to carry out their missions.

In this view, I am not alone -- the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, EDUCAUSE, and many other library and higher education organizations agree. Net Neutrality principles mirror many of the values that we librarians and library professionals hold dear, values that infuse and enable the service we provide for our patrons in public and academic libraries: critical and creative thinking, free speech, intellectual freedom, and equitable access to information for all citizens. 

That’s why we in libraries have expressed support for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) existing 2015 Open Internet Order and the Title II classification of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as common carriers. We believe the existing FCC rules have helped to ensure that the Internet remains open for free speech, education, and innovation.

To borrow an example and phrasing from Julie Todaro, former president of the American Library Association: A researcher at the University of Oregon should be able to access and share digital files from the Smithsonian or any other nonprofit digital platform as easily as a commercial content provider with deep pockets.

To state it a different way: From the perspective of our professional practice, we in libraries must oppose changes that would enable commercial interests to control, manipulate, and restrict lawful information and data flowing from end to end on the Internet.

Without Net Neutrality protections in place, nothing would stop an ISP from prioritizing its commercial interests over the interests of the public --and nothing would stop that same provider from charging unaffordable, extraneous fees to libraries, educational institutions, and citizens to gain access to “fast lanes” for their traffic.

With this in mind and in conjunction with the Net Neutrality Day of Action on July 12, I am sharing more information about Net Neutrality (see the resources sidebar). I encourage you to explore this issue via the links provided. Note that the linked materials include viewpoints that both support and oppose the existing regulatory framework: as always, the library advocates thorough research and thinking about all sides of the issue.

I also urge everyone to consider writing to the FCC and others in government to share your concerns and opinions about Net Neutrality.

(Once you get to the FCC site, under 'Docket 17-108' on the Left Menu, click '+Express' to submit your comment.)

Thank you and best wishes. 

Adriene Lim
Dean of Libraries and Philip H. Knight Chair
University of Oregon Libraries