May 25, 2022

New FCC/Knight Commission Report Looks at the Info Needs of Communities in a Broadband Age; Includes Chapter About Libraries

Report Homepage

Title: The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age (478 pages; PDF)

Authors: Steven Waldman and the Working Group on Information Needs of Communities

A 2 Page Chapter is Devoted to Libraries (Chapter 18, Page 216 of the PDF).
Plus, many mentions of libraries throughout the report.

Chapter Begins:

Rather than bein g made obsolete by new technologies, it appears that libraries are playing an increasingly important role in making sure communities get the information they need. Their importance was highlighted by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy: There are 9,198 public libraries in the United States, with over 16,500 outlets. Americans use them. Visits to public libraries totaled 1.4 billion in 2005. The circulation of materials topped two billion items.1 Over three-quarters of all Americans used public libraries in the year leading up to a September 2009 survey.

The report is loaded with charts, stats, and history and will have a lot of reference value moving forward.

The Information Needs of Communities is divided into three sections:

  1. Media Landscape
  2. The Policy and Regulatory Landscape
  3. Recommendations

A Few of the Major Topics Include:

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Internet
  • Schools
  • Public Broadcasting
  • Types of News
  • News Consumption
  • Copyright and Intellectual Property

From the Executive Summary:

In most ways today’s media landscape is more vibrant than ever, offering faster and cheaper distribution networks, fewer barriers to entry, and more ways to consume information. Choice abounds. Local TV stations, newspapers and a flood of innovative web start-ups are now using a dazzling array of digital tools to improve the way they gather and disseminate the news—not just nationally or internationally but block-by-block. The digital tools that have helped topple governments abroad are providing Americans powerful new ways to consume, share and even report the news.

Yet, in part because of the digital revolution, serious problems have arisen, as well. Most significant among them: in many communities, we now face a shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting. This is likely to lead to the kinds of problems that are, not surprisingly, associated with a lack of accountability—more government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools, and other serious community problems. The independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism—going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy—is in some cases at risk at the local level.

Note: There is supposed to be a link to download the report by chapter but it’s not available at the moment.

Report Homepage

Title: The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age (478 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.