libraries without walls: increasing connectivity with innovation

Libraries Without Walls

COVID-19 has impacted the way we work, go to school, access healthcare and communicate with each other. The pandemic has amplified the need for internet access in rural and undeserved areas where connection speeds do not meet the minimum accepted level of 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up. To assist in meeting this need, libraries, schools, and other community support organizations are looking for new ways to bridge the digital divide. The need is obvious, with 22% of students being forced to use public WiFi to complete their homework and over half of U.S. adults saying the internet has been essential during the pandemic (Source: Pew Research Center).

Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) has dedicated part of the recently awarded federal CARES Act funding, along with state and private grant funding, to fund a variety of technology projects that support the connectivity needs of our public libraries during the pandemic. The Libraries Without Walls grant will target five focus areas:

  • Broadband Infrastructure - Projects that bring libraries up to a standard level of Wi-Fi connection and statistics gathering, focusing on the non-discounted portions for E-rate Cat 2 funding.

  • Chromebooks - Shipping set-up Chromebooks directly to libraries to create a lending program.

  • G Suite Migrations - Migrating interested libraries from outdated email and productivity tools to the cloud-based G Suite from Google (grants awarded).

  • Tech Innovation - Projects that embrace innovative technology to address the changing needs of libraries.

  • Wi-Fi Expansion - Projects that extend Wi-Fi beyond the library, including TV White Space (TVWS), Line of Sight Wi-FI, and Mesh Networks.

Application windows for each of the above areas will be staggered, starting in August 2020 through January 2021. Details for each grant area are below with deadlines, information, and online applications. For more information on connectivity technology, see our Wi-Fi Connectivity Tech Guide.

Please contact Shannan Furlow at the GPLS Help Desk with any questions or check out the FAQ page!

G SUITE MIGRATIONS - Awarded August 2020

A portion of CARES Act grant funding has been awarded to migrate the remaining library systems in Georgia to G Suite. This grant will fund the necessary cost increase to migrate all interested systems and will cover the pro-rated cost of 2020, and the full yearly cost of 2021.

Currently:

  • 50 domains (48 systems) have been migrated to the GPLS-managed G Suite environment

  • 6 systems host their own G Suite instance

  • 4 systems host their own email/cloud service

  • 5 additional systems have shown interest in migrating to G Suite

  • 3 new systems have already been migrated

Newly Migrated Systems:

  • Sarah Hightower

  • Dougherty County Public Library

  • Ocmulgee Regional Library System

In Process:

  • Greater Clarks Hill Regional Libraries (runs their own G Suite)

  • Forsyth County Public Library


Total Funding Awarded: $25,000

CHROMEBOOKS - Closed September 30, 2020

A portion of CARES Act funding will be awarded to libraries for the deployment of pre-configured Chromebooks to create or expand a device lending program. Roughly 500 Chrome devices will be divided up according to the RPLAC formula (like Lib Tech allocations) and will be drop shipped with white-glove service to libraries. White-glove service includes pre-enrolling, updating, checking for DOA status, and placing devices in library system's Chrome management group. The intention of this grant is to provide long-term device loans with priority lending given to to K-12, university, and technical college students. Applications will be evaluated based on impact, need, and readiness.

The focus for this grant is on the impact of COVID-19 on library services. Grant applications will need to show the impact that the requested technology will have on their community during the pandemic.

NOTE: This opportunity is not available to libraries that were awarded in the first round of the Chromebook lending grant.


Awards: Dependent on number of submitted applications

Deadline: September 30, 2020

*Applications closed*

TECH INNOVATION - Opens September 17, 2020

A portion of the FY2021 Lib Tech Fund will be awarded to assist libraries that need a little extra funding for technology innovations that improve library services in a meaningful way. Lib Tech funding will pay for the devices and other allowable items, while the remaining charges for installation and other items not allowed under Lib Tech will be covered by CARES Act funding. This will allow the complete project to be funded. Applications will be evaluated based on creativity, impact, and compliance.

The focus for this grant is on the impact of COVID-19 on library services. Grant applications will need to show the impact that the requested technology will have on their community during the pandemic. Possible projects are:

    • devices to checkout to patrons

    • converting public access machines to Chrome devices

    • replacing old servers to improve service to patrons

    • upgrading access points to increase Wi-Fi range and strength

    • devices to track wireless statistics

    • mobile hotspots with plans included through September 2021

NOTE: This opportunity will require a Lib Tech reimbursement to submitted after installation, but the date for this submission is flexible. More details will be provided to awarded libraries.


Awards: Up to $30,000

Deadline: October 30, 2020

WI-FI EXPANSION - Opens November 1, 2020

A portion of CARES Act funding will be awarded to libraries for the deployment of TV White Space (TVWS) and other Wi-Fi expansion technology in their communities. The intent of this grant is to assist libraries with extending Wi-Fi beyond the library to narrow the digital divide for patrons, especially students. Applications will be evaluated based on impact, need, and viability.

The focus for this grant is on the impact of COVID-19 on library services. Grant applications will need to show the impact that the requested technology will have on their community during the pandemic. Possible projects are:

  • Line of Sight Wi-Fi devices to strengthen service

  • Mesh networks to provide coverage over a large area

  • TVWS to expand coverage beyond the library building

NOTE: Expanding internet access beyond library property is not covered by E-rate. Applicants must be willing to cover the monthly internet cost used by TVWS if funded.


Awards: Up to $15,000

Deadline: December 30, 2020

BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE - Opens December 1, 2020

A portion of CARES Act funding will be awarded to libraries for the deployment of broadband infrastructure upgrades. The intention of these grants will be to bring all libraries in Georgia up to a standard baseline of Wi-Fi availability and Wi-Fi statistics gathering. These grants will reimburse the non-discounted portion only of the E-rate Category 2 (CAT 2) costs not funded by USAC.

The focus for this grant is on the impact of COVID-19 on library services. Grant applications will need to show the impact that the requested technology will have on their community during the pandemic. Possible CAT 2 projects, under E-rate, are:

  • Internal Connections (such as access points, routers, switches, hubs, and wiring)

  • Managed Internal Broadband Services (operation, management, and monitoring of eligible broadband internal connections by a third party)

  • Basic Maintenance of Internal Connections (eligible repair and upkeep services include hardware, wiring, and cable maintenance, along with basic technical support and configuration changes for eligible products)

NOTE: As this grant is designed to cover the remaining portion of CAT 2 projects, if you did not apply for CAT 2 funding this year under E-rate then you will need to apply for the Tech Innovation grant instead.


Awards: Dependent on non-discounted portion of CAT 2 projects

Deadline: January 29, 2021