Internet2 Community Anchor Program Awarded Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
Grant will fund expanded outreach to tribal, rural, and urban libraries across the United States to improve their broadband services
By Sara Aly, Internet2 Communications Manager
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 14, 2020 – Internet2 announced today that its Community Anchor Program (CAP) has received a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant of $249,788 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant supports initiatives that empower library practitioners to become more informed consumers, advocates, and providers of internet access and digital services to their communities.
The Internet2 CAP works with regional and local research and education networks across the country to connect the full range of community anchor institutions to advanced broadband capabilities. Stephanie Stenberg, director of the Internet2 CAP, will be teaming up with library consultant Carson Block to improve upon the Toward Gigabit Libraries (TGL) toolkit and expand outreach to tribal, rural, and urban libraries across the United States.
“In order for libraries to bring digital resources to their patrons, they need robust and scalable broadband infrastructure to serve their facilities,” said Stenberg. “We are excited to continue supporting tribal and rural libraries’ efforts in connecting to advanced broadband capabilities, and expanding our outreach efforts for the first time to urban libraries that are often located in technology deserts.”
The TGL program was initially funded by an IMLS grant (RE-00-15-0110-15) in 2015, and created a broadband toolkit and customized broadband improvement plan designed to help public and tribal librarians learn about their current broadband infrastructure and internal information technology environment.
“We’ve seen tremendous success with the adoption of the TGL toolkit,” added Stenberg. “One of our community’s success stories comes from Montana, which adopted the toolkit for 115 of its 117 libraries across the state. Implementing the toolkit enabled Montana libraries to gather accurate data about their current broadband capabilities.”
An investment in broadband is key for libraries to be able to provide innovative programs and services. In Montana, broadband allows libraries to support virtual reality programs and distance learning services.
Yet despite federal recommendations that libraries serving up to 50,000 people should have at minimum a 100 megabits per second internet connection, fewer than five libraries across Montana meet this speed level. Jennie Stapp, Montana State Librarian, spearheaded the initiative for all libraries across the state to complete the toolkit.
“Fewer than a dozen of the libraries in the entire state have a dedicated IT person, most rely on either their local governments or a volunteer to provide that support,” said Stapp. “The gigabit toolkit is accessible in terms of the amount of time and investment it takes for a library to complete it, especially for small or rural libraries that just don’t have either the time or the technical know-how.”
The toolkit’s accessibility and guidance for collecting data prompted the State Library of Montana to move forward with rolling it out across the state. The state’s ability to work with each librarian to gather consistent data about speed, hardware, and local providers was key in producing an accurate and useful statewide data set.
“This new grant builds on earlier efforts by our colleague James Werle, who passed away in 2018,” concluded Stenberg. “James pioneered the TGL toolkit and traveled to 12 states, where he worked with more than 70 library staff in 58 rural public and tribal libraries to pilot the use of the toolkit. We’re honored to carry out his vision of helping libraries across the nation better understand broadband and IT.”
Internet2® is a non-profit, member-driven advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 serves 323 U.S. universities, 60 government agencies, 43 regional and state education networks and through them supports more than 100,000 community anchor institutions, over 1,000 InCommon participants, and 54 leading corporations working with our community, and 70 national research and education network partners that represent more than 100 countries.
Internet2 delivers a diverse portfolio of technology solutions that leverages, integrates, and amplifies the strengths of its members and helps support their educational, research, and community service missions. Internet2’s core infrastructure components include the nation’s largest and fastest research and education network that was built to deliver advanced, customized services that are accessed and secured by the community-developed trust and identity framework.
Sara Aly, Internet2
Related articles and blogs: