May 16, 2022

West Virginia: Libraries Can’t Use Stimulus-Funded Fiber Network

From The Charleston Gazette:

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.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.