Sunday, July 12, 2009

Connecting in the 21st Century - Broadband

ALA conference offered a Sunday morning program on "Connecting inthe 21st Century". Much was an overview of what ALA surveys, papers, position statements and more that it has already done, then launched into new information.

John Windhause, SHLB Coalition Coordinator:
The $7.2B broadband funding went to both RUS (rural communities) and NTIA (intent to go to all parts of the nation). Rules for giving out funds took a long time, with ALA closely following and nudging. One new coalition created is SHLB Coalition, for schools, health, and library broadband. 45 members. Purpose is to highlight the benefits to and broadband needs of various institutions. Another purpose is to use the local links to better serve the broader community. Purpose #3 -identifies libraries and community anchor institutions. Libraries are eleigible for public computer center capacity dollars. Rules of Broadband Funding not ideal. For example, much of NTIA grants are also meant for rural communities.

Larry Strickland was just brought on as leader of NTIA. He specifically mentioned libraries. Schools, Health, and Libraries were defined as "middle mile" applicants (better than "last mile") so it should be easier for public libraries to apply for the money. They can seek fiber rings.

There are 3 rounds of funding. This one was the first one. Hopefully the rules of the next 2 rounds will be better. This is public infrastructure money.

Public computing center is a smaller bucket of money, but # applicants are smaller too. Ideal for public libraries and potentially schools. $200M minimum for the public computing center capacity funding. Some rules are still in flux (like definition of rural).

Alan Inouye - ALA OITP. Recommended actions
  • Sustainable adoption category applications (20% match in cash or in-kind)
  • Public computer center (focus on computers, software, internal connections; not clear you can increase bandwidth.)
  • Multi-sector applications encouraged
  • Which funding route should you pursue? Sooner the better, even though next 2 funding rounds give you more time to submit a better application.
  • Governors get to contribute to the ranking of applications. Make sure your governor knows and values role of library in supporting public access to Internet/broadband. Get governor to help!
  • A lot of interest and competition in the money. Manage your expectations.
  • Applications will be reviewed by small group of volunteers. Be sure to have your application address how ARRA will help your community.
  • A number of items to fulfill. Read application carefully.
  • Worst day to submit your application is Aug 14 (deadline). Know your stimulus website =
  • ALA will be pushing for rule changes at NTIA. Major updates, so keep watching.
E-Rate is a way to help pay and continue to maintain your network.
Minimum of one award/state.
If your application makes it through first round, then reviewers look at it. If they deem it worthy, they send on to Governor's office. Should coordinate your school and library requests through your State Library.

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