West Virginia: Libraries Can’t Use Stimulus-Funded Fiber Network
Librarian Sheila Thorne wishes the 10 computers at the Clay County Public Library wouldn’t bog down during busy afternoons, but it’s not like the slow Internet speeds can be blamed on a shortage of new technology.
There’s a new $7,800 high-speed fiber connection in the library’s basement — enough capacity to serve dozens of libraries. And there’s a $22,600 Internet router capable of serving hundreds of computers.
But the Clay County library isn’t using the technology — paid for by the federal stimulus. It costs too much.
The Library Commission requires a contract change to comply with the federal government’s “e-rate” program. The Federal Communication Commission program helps libraries and schools pay for technology at discounted rates.
States must pay costs up front, and they get reimbursed 75 cents for every dollar spent. In West Virginia, the Library Commission pays $960,000 a year for Internet service at libraries.
Because of the new fiber connections, the libraries must negotiate a new e-rate reimbursement agreement with the feds, a process that can take up to 18 months.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.