Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recovery Act funds for libraries or I have broadband, I need faster broadband

President Obama's intention for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) is to find ways to stimulate the economy. Many libraries qualify for existing grants (even though no money has been provided just for libraries.) The real trick is often finding a local federal office and working with them to get funding. If you know the right local federal agency, the right grant, and apply it to the right project, there are huge benefits. (The American Library Association has a great deal of information on how to get stimulus funds, I liked this one from District Dispatch Blog). As librarians, we definitely need to be creative and snoop so that we can find money that is applicable to us.
The process can be very confusing. Here was a good quote from the Technology Policy Summit discussing rural broadband potential:

Much of the money can be found in different places, and in many cases, wrapped into existing grant projects.

from Stimulating Broadband:
Given that these continuing programmatic efforts of the Rural Development division of USDA -- the division which includes RUS -- operate under an established body of regulations, the NOFA to be issued by the agency for ARRA broadband stimulus funds must be groomed to coordinate with those strictures already in use in rural jurisdictions around the country.
There is also more potential coming from the state:
Teri Takai: California Budget Crisis Won't Block Technology Progress

"The state also will step up efforts to prepare citizens for success in the digital economy. Schwarzenegger intends to sign an executive order promoting digital literacy within two weeks (article posted 5/17/2009), Takai said. And the CIO's office is launching efforts to assess statewide broadband Internet connectivity, with the intention of strengthening access in unserved and underserved areas."

After some investigation, we found our local Department of Agriculture office provides building construction and broadband connectivity to any public building in a rural area. For this alone, there is potential to get $300,000 in building construction money for library branches.

Broadband has been the biggest discussion in the library world. It seems like $7.2 billion is easy to get, but if your library already provides broadband, then what?

The Internet Runs on This stuff
Originally uploaded by Lacrymosa

Do we still qualify for broadband if we just need more speed? We really can't afford an ongoing cost to upgrade.

There is a great deal of potential for rural libraries to update buildings, and provide the infrastructure for increased internet access. However, if I repair or build a building, it can last 5, 10, or 50 years past the grant cycle, depending on the project. For broadband, the costs are always ongoing and always increasing, but the stimulus money isn't. What do we do then?

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