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Helping Public Libraries Improve Broadband Services

The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER) has been working with public libraries and library systems in Pennsylvania for several years but with new funding and support KINBER will be increasing its efforts and helping even more libraries to improve their broadband services. This increase was made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) statewide library assistance grant administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries.

In January 2019, KINBER was awarded the LSTA statewide library assistance grant for the Toward Gigabit Libraries in Pennsylvania project which aims to support libraries across the commonwealth in their acquisition, use, and understanding of broadband networking and IT infrastructure technologies.

This project builds upon a 2016-2018 Institute for Museum and Library Services grant to Internet2, a nonprofit computer networking consortium. Internet2’s program helps public and tribal librarians across the country learn about their current broadband infrastructure and internal information technology environment. KINBER was one of several research and education network partners that worked on this national project and was involved as a pilot participant. KINBER’s Toward Gigabit Libraries in Pennsylvania grant will leverage the freely available Broadband Toolkit and Broadband Improvement Plan template created as part of the Internet2 program. Project activities expand on the success of the Internet2 program and continues the work started in Pennsylvania to support and develop library practitioners’ understanding of their library’s broadband connection and related IT infrastructures.

As part of the project, KINBER will conduct a survey of Pennsylvania’s libraries on their broadband capabilities and awareness and provide training and education through in-person workshops, virtual events, and library site visits by KINBER on the use of the Library Broadband Toolkit and Broadband Improvement Plan template. KINBER is also leveraging and scaling the work it has done in providing library network assessments to public libraries in Pennsylvania as part of its ongoing efforts in serving public libraries.