High-Speed Broadband in California Libraries

Project Goal

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

$6,000,000

One-time funding for grants that make
it easier for local libraries to connect

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$2,475,000

Ongoing annual appropriation

Results and Impact

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143

of California's 184 public library jurisdictions are connected or connecting to the network that links universities, colleges, schools, and libraries around the world.*

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795

of California's 1,132 main and branch libraries are now connected or connecting.

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4 new jurisdictions will begin connecting to broadband in 2018.


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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image The teen department has also utilized the extra bandwidth to support new programs.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

broadband image 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.

143 library jurisdictions have received grant funding to help them connect to broadband. Four new library jurisdictions will receive grants in 2018.

Grant funds have helped libraries connect to broadband successfully by providing switches and catalysts used to expand the number of devices that are connected to the upgraded network; firewalls to protect the library against network intrusions; routers to direct Internet traffic between CalREN and library branches; antennae to enable library patrons and staff to connect to broadband Internet services; and network consultants to configure networks and provide IT support.

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.

Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC):

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 and supports participating libraries.

Southern California Library Cooperatove:

A consortium of 38 independent city, county, and special district public libraries. The Southern California Library Cooperative administers the project's Technology Improvement Grant funds and supports participating libraries.

Information about grant opportunities coming soon.

If you have questions about applying for a grant, please contact Diane Satchwell of the Southern California Library Cooperative at broadband@socallibraries.org

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.

If you have any questions about the High-Speed Broadband in California Libraries project, please contact Bev Schwartzberg, Library Programs Consultant, at Beverly.Schwartzberg@library.ca.gov

* 55 jurisdictions have been connected to CalREN by the California State Library's broadband project; 37 are currently being connected by the broadband project team; 35 were connected before the current project started and receive support from the broadband project aggregator.

** Library directors are asked to complete an evaluation survey when their libraries have been connected to CalREN for twelve months. The survey was first issued in December 2016 to 14 library jurisdictions. The survey was completed in 13 library jurisdictions.