Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), we have been trying to identify ways the Florida library community can benefit from the act’s provisions and keep the library community up-to-date about what we learn. Currently the main focus is on broad band services as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Federal Communications Commission, and U.S. Department of Agriculture are hard at work developing grant program rules and procedures for the Act’s broadband provisions. It is our understanding that there will be 3 broad band grant application rounds with the first coming perhaps as early as this April through June.
We are advocating for an approach where libraries can submit their lists of broadband needs – service upgrades, equipment, installation, and budgets that would be aggregated into a single proposal at the state level. There is concern that NTIA does not have the personnel to handle the thousands of applications they might receive so there would be clear advantages to aggregating proposals.
Planning is also underway at the state level to utilize stimulus funds to build broad band infrastructure to un-served or under-served Florida communities. Some libraries, particularly those serving rural communities, may be able to benefit from these efforts also.
While we wait for the program details to be developed, this would be a good time for interested libraries to conduct technology and service assessments and identify needed service increases, equipment, and other costs associated with delivering broad band services that meet your communities’ needs. Hopefully you will soon be invited to submit this information for inclusion in a statewide grant application. Provided below are some questions to assist you with assessment and planning.
You can stay aware of ARRA developments by checking the following sites:
Thanks to Mark Flynn at the State Library and Archives of Florida and Dr. Charles McClure at Florida State University’s Information Use Management and Policy Institute who are working hard to ensure that Florida libraries’ contribution to providing broad band access to Floridians is acknowledged through funding from the stimulus act!