The Washington State Library and the library community are celebrating the approval of an $84 million grant award that will provide high-speed broadband Internet access to 57 public libraries where broadband connections are limited.
“Washingtonians turn to their libraries for information, particularly during hard times,” said Washington State Librarian Jan Walsh. “We are delighted to partner in this grant to bring high-speed broadband to rural libraries in the state. Libraries are in need of increased broadband capacity to provide the programs and services needed to better serve the people of Washington.”
Secretary of State Sam Reed was especially pleased with the grant’s impact on libraries in small, rural communities.
“Broadband stimulus funding will help bridge the digital divide in rural communities by providing people access to the resources and information they need,” Reed said.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) approved the award, which was announced Monday. The State Library is a partner in a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant application in Washington. Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is the lead applicant for the broadband grant project.
The project plans to provide speeds of at least 100 megabytes per second (Mbps) to 57 libraries, 22 government facilities, 38 medical centers, two tribal service centers and four community colleges.
Libraries benefiting from the broadband grant include those in:
• Castle Rock, Cathlamet, Clarkston, Davenport, Dayton, Deming, Harrington, Kahlotus, Kalama, Longview, Odessa, Pomeroy, Pullman, Reardan, Ritzville, Waitsburg, Walla Walla and Wilbur;
• Fort Vancouver Regional Library District branches in Goldendale, North Bonneville, Ridgefield, Stevenson, White Salmon and Woodland;
• Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Library in Blyn;
• Kitsap Regional Library branches in downtown Bremerton, Sylvan Way and Poulsbo;
• Mid-Columbia Library System branches in Connell, Eltopia and Othello;
• North Olympic Library System branches in Forks and Sequim;
• Timberland Regional Library branches in Centralia, Chehalis, Ilwaco, McCleary, Naselle, Randle, Raymond, Salkum and South Bend;
• Whitman County Rural Library District branches in Albion, Colfax, Colton, Endicott, Garfield, Oakesdale, Palouse, Rosalia, Tekoa and Uniontown; and
• Yakima Valley Libraries in Moxee, Sunnyside, White Swan and Yakima.
The State Library is partnering with NoaNet and the state Department of Information Services on a second BTOP application that will be submitted later in March.
The State Library, a division of the Office of Secretary of State, provides leadership and coordination of services to all libraries throughout Washington.
NoaNet, a nonprofit mutual corporation based in Tacoma, provides wholesale telecommunications transport. It operates a public open-access broadband communication network totaling more than 1,500 fiber miles that provides rural areas with access to broadband services. NoaNet has been serving wholesale customers in Washington since 2000.