libraries without walls: increasing connectivity with innovation

Libraries Without Walls

FY2021 LWW Grants Infographic Page REVISED.pdf

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 underserved 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 percent of students being forced to use public Wi-Fi 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) dedicated part of federal CARES Act funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), along with state technology 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 initiative targeted five focus areas:

  • Broadband Infrastructure - Projects that elevated libraries to a standard level of Wi-Fi connection and statistics gathering by funding the non-discounted portions for E-rate Cat 2 projects.

  • Chromebooks - Pre-configured Chromebooks direct shipped to libraries to create or expand a lending program.

  • G Suite Migration - Interested libraries were migrated from outdated email and productivity tools to the cloud-based G Suite (now Google Workspace) from Google.

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

  • Wi-Fi Expansion - Projects that extended Wi-Fi service beyond library buildings to provide public after hours and during building closures.

G SUITE MIGRATION - Awarded August 2020

A portion of CARES Act funding was awarded to migrate the remaining library systems in Georgia to G Suite. This grant funded the necessary cost increase to migrate all interested systems by covering the pro-rated cost for 2020 and the full annual 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 - Awarded October 2020

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

Total Funding Awarded: 501 devices or $128,757.00


Awarded Libraries:

  • Athens Regional Library System

  • Azalea Regional Library System

  • Bartow County Library System

  • Bartram Tail Regional Library

  • Chestatee Regional Library System

  • Clayton County Library System

  • Coastal Plain Regional Library System

  • Conyers-Rockdale Library System

  • De Soto Trail Regional Library

  • Flint River Regional Library

  • Forsyth County Public Library

  • Houston County Public Library

  • Lee County Library

  • Live Oak Public Libraries

  • Middle Georgia Regional Library

  • Moultrie-Colquitt County Library System

  • Northeast Georgia Regional Library System

  • Oconee Regional Library System

  • Pine Mountain Regional Library System

  • Roddenbery Memorial Library

  • Screven-Jenkins Regional Library System

  • Sequoyah Regional Library System

  • South Georgia Regional Library

  • Southwest Georgia Regional Library

  • Statesboro Regional Libraries

  • Twin Lakes Library System

TECH INNOVATION - Awarded November 2020

A portion of CARES Act funding and state technology funding was awarded to assist libraries that needed a little extra funding for technology innovations to improve library services in a meaningful way. Lib Tech funding covered devices and other allowable items under the program, while charges for installation and other unallowable items were covered by CARES funding allowing for the complete project to be funded. The intention of this grant was to fund projects where the technology enabled libraries to impact their communities during the pandemic. Applications were evaluated based on creativity, impact, and compliance. Possible projects were:

    • 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

Total Funding Awarded: $186,200.59


Awarded Libraries:

  • Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System

  • Azalea Regional Library System

  • Bartram Trail Regional Library

  • Coastal Plain Regional Library System

  • De Soto Trail Regional Library System

  • DeKalb County Public Library

  • Middle Georgia Regional Library

  • Mountain Regional Library System

  • Oconee Regional Library System

  • Sara Hightower Regional Library System

WI-FI EXPANSION - Awarded January 2021

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

  • 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

  • External access points/equipment on building

  • Internal access points upgrade

Total Funding Awarded: $56,652.90


Awarded Libraries:

  • Moultrie-Colquitt County Library System

  • Pine Mountain Regional Library System

  • South Georgia Regional Library

  • Statesboro Regional Public Libraries

  • West Georgia Regional Library System

  • Worth County Library

BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE - Awarded February 2021

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

  • 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)

Total Funding Awarded: $31,864.68


Awarded Libraries:

  • Chattahoochee Valley Libraries

  • DeKalb County Public Library

  • Flint River Regional Library System

  • Lee County Library

  • Middle Georgia Regional Library

  • Newton County Library System

  • Northeast Georgia Regional Library System

  • Sequoyah Regional Library System