ALA: Broadband Funds Awarded, Lessons Learned, Second Round Open
$23 million award to Wisconsin will help 385 public libraries, plus schools and higher ed
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 02/23/2010
- Time to apply is now
- Wisconsin award even helps libraries already with broadband
- Lessons include collaboration, budgeting
As the application window opened for the second and final round of federal broadband stimulus funds, the American Library Association has announced a $23 million grant for the state of Wisconsin and summarized lessons learned from other successful applicants.
The window of opportunity for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) funding ends March 15. (See the ALA's Know Your Stimulus page and Broadband USA for more.)
The State of Wisconsin Department of Administration was awarded a $23 million infrastructure BTOP grant by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) The project will bring fiber connectivity to the schools and public libraries in the state that are on the BadgerNet Converged Network (BCN) but still do not have fiber.
The application represents a total of 467 sites in 382 communities: 74 schools or school districts; 385 public libraries; 8 higher education campuses. The goal, according to an FAQ, is to install fiber at all of the sites by the end of 2010. For libraries and schools on the BCN that already have fiber, the grant still will help by reducing costs of the BadgerNet network.
ALA summarized results from four successful awards.
Fast-Forward New Mexico, in the category Sustainable Broadband Adoption, involves New Mexico State Library, University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship, and 1st-Mile Institute. Its budget is $2,047,050, with a federal award of $1,457,488.
The grant will support training sessions at 15 public libraries for inexperienced or first-time broadband users and the needs of small businesses and business entrepreneurs. It also will support a state broadband conference and a broadband awareness campaign.
Among the lessons: start early; find partners; collect data; find a financial advisor for budgeting.
Spokane Broadband Technology Alliance, in the category Sustainable Broadband Adoption/Public Computing Centers, involves the Spokane Public Library, WA, and a host of community partners. It encompasses two projects worth more than $3.7 million, with the federal award of nearly $2.3 million.
The project will support a “web” of computer centers in low-income neighborhoods, where residents access the Internet primarily in community centers or libraries, and also focuses on computer skills development via social media, Web 2.0 applications, and video publishing.
Among the lessons learned: build partnerships; provide rigorous evidence that those behind the project are qualified; and plan the project budget carefully.
Also highlighted are lessons from the City of Boston Public Computing Centers project, including the Boston Public Library and two partners, and the Arizona Public Computer Centers project, involving numerous libraries in the state, and the state library.