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NCompass Live: Nebraska Schools and Libraries: Breaking the Ice and Igniting Internet Relationships


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NCompass Live - Jan. 24, 2018

The Nebraska Library Commission, in partnership with the State Office of the Chief Information Officer, is applying for an IMLS SPARK Leadership Grant to incentivize rural public school districts and public libraries to work together to increase the internet speeds at the public library and provide homework hotspots for students who lack internet at home. This session will provide details about the grant and instructions on how your library can apply to participate in the project.

Presenters: Holly Woldt, Senior IT Infrastructure Support Analyst, Nebraska Library Commission; Tom Rolfes, Education IT Manager, Nebraska Information Technology Commission.

Published in: Education
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NCompass Live: Nebraska Schools and Libraries: Breaking the Ice and Igniting Internet Relationships

  1. 1. Nebraska Schools and Libraries— Breaking the Ice and Igniting Internet Relationships SUBMITTED PROPOSAL TO THE INSTITUTE OF MUSEUM AND LIBRARY SERVICES, NATIONAL LEADERSHIP GRANT FOR LIBRARIES, SPARKS GRANT Presenter(s): Tom Rolfes -- Education IT Manager Nebraska Information Technology Commission Holly Woldt – Senior IT Infrastructure Support Analyst Nebraska Library Commission
  2. 2. Nebraska Schools and Libraries—Breaking the Ice and Igniting Internet Relationships  Joint proposal submitted by the Nebraska Library Commission and Office of the Chief Information Office for funding from Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the amount of $25,000.  Funding requested from the National Leadership Grant for Libraries, Anchor Institutions for a Sparks Grant.  Sparks Grants for Libraries are a special funding opportunity within the IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. These small grants encourage libraries to prototype and evaluate specific innovations in the ways they operate and the services they provide resulting in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices.  $25,000 dollars in funding requested to incentivize five public libraries to work with five public school districts to get faster Internet.
  3. 3. What challenges are we trying to address with this grant?  Nebraska has a large proportion (88.5%) of small, rural libraries, ranking third among all states in the percentage of small and rural libraries.  Nebraska Library Commission on the 2016 public library survey indicates that over 80% of Nebraska’s public libraries have service below the 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up standard.  The Nebraska Public Service Commission recently estimated that 17% of Nebraska households do not have broadband service of at least 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up available. These underserved households are also primarily located in the state’s rural areas.  Public libraries are often the ONLY community internet access location for small, rural communities.  Small and rural public libraries often cannot afford faster internet services or are not readily available.
  4. 4. What challenges are we trying to address with this grant? (continued)  Public schools in Nebraska are already connected to a statewide fiber network, Network Nebraska, which provides substantial internet speeds to public school buildings.  School curricula continue to place more of an emphasis on cloud-based resources, digital content, and school-issued computers to students.  Rural students are part of the “homework-gap” as they face barriers to completing their homework assignments and school projects without a reliable internet source at home.  Providing super fast internet as a demonstration project within the public library could boost the adoption rate for broadband with some households.
  5. 5. Are there possibilities for collaboration between community schools and libraries to address community needs in rural Nebraska communities?  Schools are able to provide very fast internet to students and staff during the school day.  Libraries provide free Wi-fi access to rural communities (often the only source) but generally at a slow speed. This free Wi-Fi access is available at times when the school is closed. However, many libraries do not have adequate internet speeds to service both the student population and patrons in the community.  In rural communities home internet speeds generally do not meet the minimum FCC 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.  By working together as community anchor institutions, it could improve public access to the internet and also save money.
  6. 6. An innovative partnership between a public school district and library will increase the availability and quality of internet access by:  Using Sparks Grant $25,000 funding to incentivize up to five rural school districts and five rural libraries to work together to increase the internet speeds at the library using fixed wireless technology.  Augment the public library internet speeds to the FCC minimum of 25Mbps down/3Mbps up or greater by providing an additional network at the library that is an extension of the school district’s network available for district students and staff members to access.  Create at least one supervised homework hotspot in each public library so that K-12 students can access public school networks and resources while in a public library setting.  The augmented internet connection with the school will free the library’s existing network to serve more community patrons.
  7. 7. What is fixed wireless technology?  Fixed wireless is the operation of wireless devices or systems used to connect two fixed locations (e.g., building to building or tower to building) with a radio or other wireless link.  Usually, fixed wireless is part of a wireless LAN infrastructure.  Fixed Wireless is NOT the same as the Wi-Fi network in the library.
  8. 8. What do you mean by an augmented network at the library?  “Augmented” means that the school district network extension is an additional wireless network, and the existing ISP network stays in place.  The augmented Wi-Fi will be managed by the school district and will be accessible only by school district students and staff.  Library patrons’ wireless devices will be able to see the augmented network but will not be able to log onto it.
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  10. 10. Minimum Assurances to apply  The library is an accredited Nebraska Public Library.  The library is within five miles of a school district building (60 to 70 blocks) and there are no geographic or structural impediments between the library rooftop and the school district building’s rooftop (e.g. trees or other buildings blocking line of sight from rooftop to rooftop) OR The community has a water tower, grain elevator, or other high point that is in line of sight to the rooftops of both the library and the school district building and the total relay distance is no greater that five miles.  The library is willing to partner with the local school district. This partnership will include internal and external wireless infrastructure upgrades to increase the library’s internet speed for K-12 student and teacher access AND the school district may be willing to provide technical support to enable K-12 students and teachers to use the augmented internet connection within the library.  Agreement with school district and library to cost share up to $960. This will cover the cost of the 802.11ac wireless router (or wireless access point) and installation, CAT6 indoor cabling, one folding table and 4 stacking shell chairs.  Library staff is willing to share their experiences as grant participants with other public libraries and public schools through webinars and/or conference presentations.  [Optional Phase 2] The library is willing to file for E-rate funding for E-rate Category 1 as a member of a mini-consortium and possible infrastructure upgrades (E-rate Category II) for fiscal year 2019- 2020.
  11. 11. What does my library need to do to be considered for the Sparks Grant opportunity?  Review and complete an application  Demonstrate that the school district and library are candidates for fixed wireless technology.  Required to include a Letter of Support from your School District Superintendent.  Agree to participate in E-rate training (mini-consortium to jointly apply for Category 1 E-rate funding), December 2018 to February 2019.  Agreement with school district and library to cost share up to $960. This will cover the cost of the 802.11ac wireless router (or wireless access point) and installation, CAT6 indoor cabling, one folding table and 4 stacking shell chairs.  Complete the application and submit it by March 9, 2018.
  12. 12. Questions? Holly Woldt Library Technology Support Specialist Nebraska Library Commission Email: Phone: 402-471-4871/800-307-2665 Tom Rolfes Education I.T. Manager Nebraska Information Technology Commission Email: Phone: 402-471-7969