[PL-Directors] Broadband Stimulus Money

Jim Scheppke jim.b.scheppke at state.or.us
Thu Jul 2 15:47:17 PDT 2009

Dear Directors:
I hope you saw the information that Diedre Conkling has posted to libs-or
from the ALA Washington Office about the broadband stimulus funds that were
just announced this week. ALA is working hard to help libraries compete for
this money. Today they hosted a phone conference for state librarians
featuring some of their high-powered consultants to give us their take on
what is going on. I wanted to share with you some key points I took away
from this meeting:

- Applications for broadband stimulus funds will be available next Tuesday,
July 7, and the deadline for the first of what is anticipated to be three
rounds of applications is August 14th at 5pm EDT.

- Awards in the first round of grants will be made in November.

- Grants can be made to public and private entities.

- ALA is disappointed that the grants seem mostly geared to build-out of
residential broadband service in unserved and underserved areas; they don't
seem to be very interested in getting applications from libraries to improve
their broadband connections.

- There is a category of funding for "expanding public computer center
capacity" but it is only $50 million in the first round and many kinds of
public entities are eligible besides libraries and community colleges
(mentioned in the original legislation), so this will be very competitive;
there is a 20% non-federal matching requirement.

- Governors in every state will be asked to indicate their priority for
funding of projects in their state and their advice will be weighed in the
final grant-making.

- There are several ways you can learn more about this opportunity: 1)
attend a free webinar that ALA is sponsoring on Wednesday, July 8th at 1 pm
PDT -- go to <http://www.ala.org/knowyourstimulus> to register; 2) go to the
same website for links and other pertinent information; 3) email questions
you have to the ALA Washington Office at a special mailbox
<librarystimulus at ala.org>.

My big takeaway from this meeting was that the advice that I have offered to
you in the past about this might still be the best advice: your best shot
may be to be part of a local consortium of interests that is planning an
application. Maybe your library serves an "unserved or underserved" area for
broadband and there is a local private company planning to make an
application to build out their network to serve more residences. It sounds
like they could "sweeten" their application by providing free service to the
library as a place where more residents would learn about the benefits of
broadband and be more inclined to take advantage of the new service. Your
best course of action is to find out what is going on in your community and
try to get on board. One of the consultants at the meeting said that
applicants should welcome libraries as partners with open arms -- including
libraries can only improve their chances of getting a grant.

If your library becomes becomes involved with an application and you would
like me to urge the Governor to put the project on his priority list, I
would be happy to do that. Just let me know.

I hope some of you will be able to take advantage of this! --> Jim

Jim Scheppke, State Librarian
Oregon State Library
250 Winter St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
(fax) 503-585-8059
jim.b.scheppke at state.or.us

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