Wash. librarians visit Tacoma Dec. 13-14 to discuss grants for high-speed broadband service

More than 60 library directors from around Washington will be among those congregating in Tacoma Dec. 13-14 for an event...

More than 60 library directors from around Washington will be among those congregating in Tacoma Dec. 13-14 for an event to discuss how to make most effective use of high-speed broadband connections that are being made available through $183 million in grants that will benefit libraries, as well as schools, health clinics, community colleges and various government and non-profit buildings across the state, especially in rural areas.

The two-day event, dubbed “Broadband in Washington Libraries,” is being hosted by the Washington State Library and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will be held at Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway Plaza, in Tacoma.

“The event in Tacoma will show the importance of the broadband project to communities in Washington and why it will be essential for participants to work toward making it sustainable over the long term,” said Acting State Librarian Rand Simmons. “It will help libraries, partners and key stakeholders better understand just what will be happening during the rollout of the project.”

The event also will be attended by state, federal and local leaders and staff of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Washington State Library and Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet).

The broadband connectivity project aims to ensure unprecedented levels of service to a wide number of people in communities across Washington.

The Washington State Library’s involvement in securing broadband for Washington public libraries began in spring 2009 when then-State Librarian Jan Walsh advocated for Washington public libraries as a member of the Governor’s Broadband Advisory Council and formed a collaboration with NoaNet.

“This broadband project will have a tremendously positive impact on Washington communities,” Simmons said. “Not only will Washington public libraries be able to serve their communities with faster and most diverse service, but individuals within these communities will benefit by being able to participate effectively in e-government, seek and find jobs, and obtain information that will improve the quality of their lives. They also will have access to a much wider variety of distance learning and e-learning without having to travel to other cities, regions and states to receive the training.”

Since 2009, the State Library has partnered with NoaNet, Washington public libraries and government and non-profit entities to secure two grants that has resulted in $138 million in federal broadband stimulus funding through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program run by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. With matching funds, the total project is around $183 million.

For more information about the Broadband in Washington Libraries event, contact Simmons at (360) 570-5585 or rand.simmons@sos.wa.gov .

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