Idaho Commission for Libraries

High Quality Public Computing in Idaho Libraries

The percentage of Idahoans utilizing state libraries is significantly higher than the national average, and the resources provided by Idaho’s public libraries are critical to job seeking and economic development for the state’s rural population. The Idaho Commission for Libraries proposes to increase connectivity and computing capacity in Idaho’s 55 least-connected public libraries through a combination of enhancing broadband access and deploying new computers to meet increased demand. The High Quality Public Computing in Idaho Libraries project proposes to nearly double the computing capacity in 40 percent of the state’s public libraries and also plans connectivity enhancements to bring access speeds to an average of 6.2 Mbps across participating libraries. The project plans to leverage existing partnerships in each of the libraries to use the new capacity to offer educational, employment, and e-government services to economically vulnerable populations in the state, including Idaho’s Hispanic population, Native Americans, English language learners, youth, and the unemployed.

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BTOP In Action
An Idaho Youth Corps member helps students search the Internet

By late August 2011, the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) upgraded public computer centers at 26 libraries across the state. These refurbished centers are experiencing a renaissance with increased usage from new and long-time library members. Many of these patrons are using the centers’ new computers, online resources, and digital literacy coaches to learn new computer skills and help them find jobs.

BTOP funds have allowed ICfL to deploy more than 287 workstations, serving an average of 9,405 users per week. Along with these computers, ICfL is providing free access to a wide variety of online journals, reports, and databases. For example, ICfL provides a free subscription to LearningExpress Library (LEL), an interactive online tool that offers a comprehensive selection of career and academic resources for job preparation, career advancement, and academic success. Through a partnership with the Idaho Department of Education, the program also offers free access to Apangea Learning, an online, supplemental math instruction and tutoring program that provides students with instruction, math problems, and access to live certified teachers.

In addition, ICfL trained and deployed 20 Idaho Youth Corps in various libraries. Established by the Department of Labor, the Youth Corps program provides high school and college students the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on work experience through meaningful projects that will enhance their communities. ICfL contributed a portion of its BTOP funds to employ these students for the summer. Hired as Digital Literacy Coaches, these in-house trainers were responsible for helping patrons with computer basics and Internet fundamentals.

ICfL’s ultimate goal is to provide educational, employment, and e-government services to economically vulnerable populations in the state. To reach these groups, ICfL launched an innovative outreach campaign showcasing the benefits of broadband and its training courses. The program created six television and four radio public service announcements (PSAs) that highlight the libraries’ new resources and services. To view a collection of the project’s PSAs, please visit here.

Last Updated: December 7, 2011

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