Texas Gov. Signs Budget, Texas State Library and Archives Commission Receives $1 Million Dollar Appropriation to Bring High Speed Internet to Rural Communities Through Public Libraries
Monday, June 12, 2017 • Austin, Texas • News Release
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) will receive a special legislative appropriation of one million dollars to bring high-speed internet connections to Texas communities via public libraries. The funds will allow TSLAC to facilitate local public library access to federal discounts that will make broadband connections affordable. The request was funded as part of the agency’s 2018-2019 legislative appropriation.
“We are very happy to have earned broad bipartisan support for this effort,” said TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith. “Libraries are uniquely positioned to serve as digital safety nets for their communities, helping Texans access the online resources they need for work, school, and personal enrichment,” said Smith
Using the appropriation, TSLAC will assist public libraries in navigating the difficult application process to obtain federal E-rate discounts for high-speed internet, potentially lowering the cost by as much as 90 percent.
Currently, only 6 percent of Texas public libraries have internet connections at speeds recommended by the Federal Communications Commission. Approximately 60% of public libraries in the U.S. are the only source of free internet in their community. Students, jobseekers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and many others rely on public libraries as a vital link to online information.
“Thanks to the help from the Texas Legislature, we intend to increase the number of libraries offering broadband,” said Smith.
The project will begin in September 2017, and information on how libraries and their communities can be found at tsl.texas.gov/broadband.