High-Speed Broadband in California Libraries
To bring high-speed broadband to all California public libraries by connecting them to the California Research and Education Network (CalREN)—a high-capacity 3,800-mile fiber-optic-based network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and others working in California's vital public-serving institutions.
Investment Since 2014
Funding for grants that make
it easier for libraries to connect
Ongoing annual appropriation
Results and Impact
Staff in connected libraries report* that:
- Their libraries are:
- providing better support for individual and group online learning,
- introducing new services and programs,
- better able to support economic development in the community, and
- receiving fewer complaints about Internet speed.
- Community members can use their mobile devices effectively in the library.
- Library staff can work more efficiently and have access to improved training and professional development opportunities.
Along with having slow internet before CalREN, our library also had not replaced computers for many years due to budget cuts. We have leveraged the new high speed fiber to begin replacing computers and formed a stronger relationship with our County IT department... The connection to CalREN has raised the profile of the library with the county as it's widely recognized that the best way to take advantage of this opportunity is to invest in computers to match the capability.
The broadband has allowed groups to work together on projects without being dropped from the network... These groups are also able to utilize all of our study rooms.
Staff are spending so much less time responding to concerns over slow internet connection speeds and other related troubleshooting that they are freed up to spend more time addressing the information needs of our patrons.
We recently began a partnership with a local professor and UCSD's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and have begun monthly streaming lectures. In the past we would never have done a live streaming event with the unreliability of the internet connection.
The teen department has also utilized the extra bandwidth to support new programs.
The CENIC broadband, combined with the new wifi equipment (that takes advantage of the increased internet speed) has finally allowed us to offer the level of wifi service necessary to accommodate all the patrons in the building to use data heavy websites that use streaming video.
Staff can now attend webinars or training in any of the community or board rooms in the building because of the strengthened signal made possible by the CENIC broadband connection. This was not possible in the past.
Complaints and frustration from the public regarding their own Internet use at our workstations were frequent and occasionally, heated. With the new CENIC Broadband, those complaints are almost non-existent. The public is 100% happier and the staff is happier & relieved.
Our computer lab has become so popular both with the public and other city departments that it is difficult to keep up with demand for use. The calendar is almost always full with open labs, classes for the public, classes for our adult literacy program, classes for the school district's special education class, and training sessions for various city departments.
The average wait time for a public computer is now only 5 min (down from a previous high of 30-60+ minute wait-times). Because of the improved speed of the network connection, people finish what they're doing faster.
Broadband Support Grants
The California State Library is pleased to announce the continuation and expansion of its High-Speed Broadband for California Libraries Grants programs.
Beginning in April of 2019, the program is expanding opportunities for qualified/eligible public libraries to apply for funding in the following areas:
- First year connection costs
- Equipment to support connections
- Consulting costs related to configuration and installation of equipment
- Construction costs related to expansion of necessary infrastructure to make connections
- Construction costs related to required upgrades of inside wiring and other facilities to make connections viable
- Technical network training for librarians
Libraries that have previously received support from the State Library may be eligible for additional funds.
All grant application deadlines are now rolling.
Additionally, the State Library is working to make available pre-selected consultants to aid in needed community planning for qualified/eligible communities.
- Grant guidelines, Sample Application, and Definitions (Word)
- Online application link
- Project Plan (Excel)
- Proposed Budget for Grant-Eligible Projects (Excel)
- Proposed Budget for Grant-Eligible Projects by Branch (Excel)
If you have questions about applying for a grant, please contact Christian DeLay.
Public Utilities Commission Funding Opportunities
Libraries in California have new opportunities to apply for grant funds through the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Funds support digital literacy and broadband access and are aimed at under-served, lower-income residents, with a preference to rural applicants.
The nonprofit organization that operates CalREN.CALIFA:
A nonprofit library membership consortium and the project's aggregator. Califa is the project's fiscal, contracting, and billing agent, administers the project's Technology Improvement Grant funds, and supports participating libraries.
Please visit the Califa website for further information, including: a project summary and background; list of key facts; E-rate and CTF information and documents; FAQs for project participants; steps to connect to CalREN; glossary of broadband terms; statewide reports and publications; and broadband press archives. See Awarded Aggregator and Program Manager Proposal and Award Letter.
* Library directors are asked to complete an evaluation survey when their libraries have been connected to CalREN for twelve months.