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Internet Upgrade Success Stories from LCT Libraries

2018 August 21
by Henry Stokes

Logo for the Libraries Connecting Texas project

Last month, Texas public libraries that participated in TSLAC’s Libraries Connecting Texas (LCT) project began reaping the benefits. Their upgraded, discounted Internet service went into effect in July and already we’re hearing about the impact the faster speeds are making to their communities.  By joining up with LCT, these libraries received free consulting help from a leading E-rate consulting firm (E-rate Central) to apply for a federal telecommunications discount program (E-rate) to increase their library’s Internet connectivity.

Check out some of their success stories!


 

Quitman Public Library, serving population: 5,225
With LCT: 300% speed upgrade

I am thrilled that the Texas State Legislature has designated funding to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for two years total in order to provide extra consulting help in securing E-rate discounted Internet connections at the library as part of the Libraries Connecting Texas (LCT) project.

Many residents in our rural and underserved communities lack access to high-speed Internet, and they depend on Internet connectivity from their local public library.

As one of the recipients, Quitman Public Library in Quitman TX is already seeing the benefit in the rural community it serves in Northeast Texas.

Here are a few things I have observed during this past month of increased speed:

  • There is an increase in students using the library’s computers to register for school, view course lectures and download educational videos.
  • Patrons needing online driver education can actually complete the course in a reasonable amount of time rather than sit through lengthy video buffering.
  • Patrons are able to complete online orders and banking transactions without being “timed out” because of sluggish Internet speed.
  • Patrons, many of whom do not own home computers, are finding information on health issues, government programs, and maintaining connections with family and friends who live or are stationed far away. Communication in real time is now an option thanks to increased Internet speed.
  • Adult education online literacy training is now possible. The library can now keep up with allowing multiple GED students to be online simultaneously rather than be forced to take turns as we have had to do in the past.
  • In our rural community, the public library provides community meeting space that serves as a disaster response center, and high-speed Internet is not a luxury – it is crucial!
  • On a personal note, I have experienced greater business function in managing my online day-to-day operations and correspondence.

On behalf of Quitman Public Library, I am grateful that our rural community will continue to benefit this upcoming year.

I encourage other Texas libraries to get on board right now and show the legislature how much we appreciate and need this funding!

Best regards,

Delene Allen

 


 

Brownwood Public Library, serving population: 38,271
With LCT: 233% speed upgrade

It’s so great to be able to triple our Internet speeds for our community! And for a small library like ours, the savings in cost means more funds we can use on books and other resources for our community.  I would encourage any library who is not part of E-rate to take advantage of this opportunity while it’s available!

Becky Isbell, Brownwood Public Library


 

Electra Public Library, serving population: 2,722
With LCT: 1,567% speed upgrade

I am so pleased with being apart of the LCT program.  I knew we needed more speed in the library but I also knew we couldn’t afford it.

When I started here in 2012 there were no children utilizing the computers in their section because of how slow the speed was.  I purchased 4 laptops for our teen section because there was no floor space to put a desk for computers in their section.  We then had to make the internet WiFi accessible so the teens could use the laptops.  At first, we had a pretty good response but after a while that even died off because of how slow the internet speed was.

We were operating on 6 Mbps and when too many people were on it, it just slowed so far down you would time out of whatever you were doing.

When I got the email about the LCT program I jumped at the chance to see what our options would be.  I got permission from the powers that be to go ahead.  Once you are approved for the program things move by very quickly and the consultants are so nice and patient with you.  They do all the heavy lifting with filling out the paperwork and helping you figure out what you want to include in getting bids for and then they will help you go through the bids and make your decision if you need them to.

We went from 6 Mbps to 100 Mbps and it will only cost us what we paid for the slower speed internet due to the Erate taking 80% of the cost.  We had to update some things with our internet equipment but if you know what you are going to need the consultants can help you include that in your paperwork.  We are still tweaking everything and making our WiFi signal stronger for the parking lot so people can use it when we are closed.

We went from having absolutely no children in here to having almost all computers full all day long this summer.  We have a fiber optic dedicated line ran to us from this companies server.  Having a dedicated line to us means no one else but us can drain our speed.

My I.T. guy has been able to do a lot of updates to our systems that he has not been able to do in the past because of how slow our speed was.  We don’t have problems when it is raining or cloudy outside anymore because that is not a factor with our new internet provider.

It has been a true life saver for our library.  It will open the door to so many new options.  Would I do it all over again if I had that option, you better believe it.  The consultants you got to help us are so amazing and make you feel so comfortable.

Stacy Nelson
Director
Electra Public Library


 

Palacios Library, serving population: 10,432
With LCT: 100% speed upgrade

We use our internet for so many reasons.  Just recently I have had people taking Defensive Driving online,  job requirements for counseling, and it is very important for high-speed internet so they do not get stopped in the middle of their test.

Vikijane Mosier, Palacios Library

 


 

Carnegie Library of Ballinger, serving population: 5,431
With LCT: 320% speed upgrade

The Carnegie Library of Ballinger has greatly benefited from having the 100 mg.  Takes no time to be in a program and no one has complained about how slow the internet is now.

Carolyn Kraatz, Librarian
Amber Self, Assistant Librarian

Carnegie Library


 

Atlanta Public Library, serving population: 5,638
With LCT: 1,583% speed upgrade

Getting E-rate has made a huge impact on my library.  Not only did the consultant help us get the paperwork in order, but the state is paying my portion of the costs of internet for one year.  I now think I am ready to tackle category 2 funding.

Jackie Icenhower, MLS
Library Director
Atlanta Public Library


 

Newark Public Library, serving population: 1,100
With LCT: 260% speed upgrade

We are a very small library serving a small rural town of approximately 1100 people. We are very limited on internet service in this area and therefore many of our community residents do not have access to internet. Many cannot afford the service.

We had AT&T internet and phone service for the three years I have been here as Director and the cost was very high. The upload and download speeds were 0.6mbps – 7.0mbps. One of the major improvements of the new internet service we have witnessed is that the patrons are not at the computers as long as they use to be. They are able to come in and do the work they need to do much faster than before. This frees up our computers for other patrons much quicker. It also allows our patrons to do other things in the library such as check out books, videos or spend time with their children in the children’s area.

Finally, previously we would have internet outages which would impact the entire library from checking out materials, administrative work, VoiP phone service as well as faxing capabilities. We would wait several days before an AT&T technician would come to check the problem for us. Of course, this impacted our ability to serve our patrons with the resources they expected. Our new service has a 100% up-time record to date and they are a local company that we were not aware of until they bid for our business with E-rate.

Because of the consultants provided by the State Library, the process of becoming an E-rate partner was made much less difficult and confusing. It is a process but the help provided was excellent and we now can consistently provide the service our patrons expect. We are also paying less for more service and better speed than we were previously.

Kind Regards,

Linda Ortberg MLA
Director, Newark Public Library


 

Nesbitt Memorial Library, serving population: 5,611
With LCT: 100% speed upgrade

With [E-rate Central’s] help, I started to overcome my “fear” of not being able to follow the [E-rate] process. This next year, I believe E-rate Central will give me the tools to be independent in the process so I will be able do the online forms when the grant ends.

Susan Chandler
Director
Nesbitt Memorial Library

 


 

Spots are available to participate this year in LCT.  Email Henry Stokes at TSLAC if you’d like to learn more!

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One Response leave one →
  1. Mark Smith permalink
    August 23, 2018

    Many thanks to all Texas libraries that participated in Libraries Connecting Texas and upgraded their internet speeds. This program has been a huge success already and we are looking forward to another year of helping libraries to get the broadband service they need to meet the needs for their communities. Reading these testimonials reminds us of all the reasons why public libraries need to be part of the solution in creating a digital safety net for their communities.

    Thanks to Henry and the LDN team, the Texas Legislature, and our partner, E-Rate Central for making this project a success.

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