Federal dollars for local broadband connection at Indiana public libraries

Have you heard the phrase “Think globally, but act locally?” Nowhere is that more evident than in your local public library. Your public library provides you access to the internet either through the library computer or your own device. From your local library you can access the world through their broadband connection. The public libraries broadband connection is supported by the federal eRate program that helps with cost control as public libraries share their cost information.

The public libraries’ demands for internet access by the public increases each year; so the cost is ever increasing due to increased bandwidth demands. Each year the demands on the eRate federal dollars grows. In the beginning, libraries had speeds of 56 k. This is no longer the norm. The American Library Association and Federal Communications Commission are recommending speeds of 100 MB for rural and 1 gigabyte for urban libraries.

Whether it’s megabytes or gigabytes, the federal eRate program supports your local broadband costs. The current federal year for broadband funding support is July 2016 through June 2017. To find the figures on those dollars benefiting Indiana, visit www.usac.org/sl and use the FRN Status Tool.

Doing a search on Indiana public libraries gives the figures for 2016 and 2017 and shows a total of a little over four million dollars support for Indiana public libraries broadband services. That represents over 150 public libraries. Remember that is not the total cost, but represents the federal support for your local internet connection in the state of Indiana. So remember when you access the internet at your local public library there is both local and federal support in actual dollars for a robust broadband connection.

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie, library development librarian and eRate coordinator. For more information, contact the Library Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email statewideservices@library.in.gov.

E-Rate internet connectivity filing due on May 11

In the budget recently passed by the general assembly, libraries will see increased funding for the non-E-Rate portion of their internet connectivity bills. Many libraries still struggle to provide adequate bandwidth at peak usage times and the spike in usage during after school hours is especially taxing for libraries that serve communities with one-to-one programs.

The Pew Research Center recently released a report that indicates that even though low-income Americans are experiencing greater levels of connectivity, it is still significantly different from the adoption rates of middle to high income households. As more patrons have adopted the use of more devices, the libraries’ Wi-Fi can be easily overloaded. Adequate broadband delivery to the library is just the first step in helping to alleviate this issue, but one that has been recognized by the state as a service that would benefit everyone through increased funding.

With fewer than two weeks left to complete your filing for E-Rate this year, libraries have an opportunity to increase the “ask” for connectivity for next year. Filing is due on or before Thursday, May 11, 2017 at midnight. The additional $500,000 dedicated to support library connectivity is a great tool to leverage both federal and state funding to help bridge the digital divide within your community. For questions please contact Karen Ainslie of the Indiana State Library.

This post was written by Wendy Knapp. Wendy is a member of the ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy E-Rate Taskforce.

Free Internet?

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One of the popular services in public libraries is access to Internet. Sometimes this Internet service is referred to as broadband. Broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access. Broadband includes several high-speed transmission technologies such as: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Cable Modem and fiber. Over half of the 237 Indiana public libraries have fiber optic service, with majority of other libraries supported by DSL and cable services. Patrons enjoy the high speed internet connection in the public libraries. Continue reading