Broadband in Libraries: Libraries at Light Speed
Posted by: Kristy L. CoomesOctober 2 2010 4:45 PM
Washington Libraries to Receive Enhanced Broadband
More than 100 public and tribal libraries, most located in rural areas of the state, will receive enhanced high speed broadband connectivity over the next two years. This project is the result of strategic partnerships between the Washington State Library and the Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet).
NoaNet applied for two federal broadband stimulus grants via the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program and were awarded both by Secretary Gary Locke of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grants amounted to $138 million and with matching funds created a $183 million project that will bring broadband to libraries and other "anchor institutions" in rural communities across Washington.
In April 2009 the State Library’s Jan Walsh, Rand Simmons, Gary Bortel and Jeff Martin formed a team that worked on garnering broadband stimulus funding for Washington public libraries. A second partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation netted $1.5 million in matching funds required by the federal government.
The Gates Foundation has also committed funding for a project launch event as part of their "Opportunities Online" effort. The launch will bring together libraries included in the project, other library leaders, project partners and federal, state and community leaders. The goals of the event are to assure that libraries and partners understand their roles and responsibilities in implementing the project and to help build the kind of ongoing sustainability for broadband capacity which will allow Washington communities to thrive and grow.
The Washington State Library team, led by Acting State Librarian Rand Simmons, is planning the launch event with their NoaNet partners. This event, "Washington Broadband in Libraries: Libraries at Light Speed", will be held at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma December 13 - 14 and is by invitation only. The Gates Foundation is covering event related costs, including travel, lodging and meals for participants.