Last week, the American Library Association (ALA) released U.S. Public Libraries and BTOP (.pdf), a report detailing the effect of funds distributed by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to 233 projects nationwide.
Established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, BTOP awarded more than $4 billion to projects that deploy new or improved broadband facilities, establish or refurbish public computing facilities, or increase Internet adoption in underserved areas. Libraries have been essential partners in many of the projects that received BTOP funding.
U.S. Public Libraries and BTOP offers a state-by-state guide to projects supported by BTOP financing. Highlights from the report include:
- Through BroadbandExpress@yourlibrary, New York now boasts teleconferencing centers in 30 libraries. Broadband-enabled e-Mobile computer training centers offer assistance to rural and underserved locations throughout the state, reaching more than 400,000 people.
- Alaska’s Online with Libraries project established a network of videoconferencing centers to provide training to remote locations. This system has myriad benefits for job seekers, who are able to focus on workplace skills at a distance.
- The Nebraska Library Commission upgraded broadband service to all 147 of its libraries, most of which are in rural locations. WiFi is now available at every library in the state.
Long term goals for the funds distributed through BTOP focus on alleviating the consequences of the digital divide in communities that are currently without access to high speed internet services.
ALA will release its final version of this report in April 2013 at http://www.districtdispatch.org/.