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Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program
Enhancing Computing Centers
in Montana Public Libraries
Under the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), the Montana State Library is partnering with 42 of Montana's public libraries to expand access to free, high-speed Internet to 86% of the state’s population by 2013. Though most local libraries have computers with Internet access, many do not have enough computers, fast enough broadband speeds, or Internet-accessible computer facilities to provide adequate services for the thousands of Montanans who need it. As a result, library patrons currently have long wait times of up to two hours for computers, as well as unacceptably slow browsing speeds.
BTOP Public Computing Center Goals
Montana’s project promotes three BTOP statutory purposes:
1) provide improved access to broadband service to consumers residing in underserved areas of the country;
2) provide broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support to libraries; and,
3) stimulate the demand for broadband, economic growth, and job creation.
1) increase broadband speeds at participating libraries up to 21 mbps;
2) cut wait times in half by increasing the total number of workstations and expanding library operation hours;
3) improve access by purchasing ADA compliant software, hardware, and furniture, and through minor renovation projects aimed at increasing accessibility of computing center facilities;
4) offer courses to increase computer literacy; and
5) provide Internet and library resources to rural Montana using a mobile computer lab.
Once completed, Montana public libraries will be able to provide better access to higher education, employment opportunities, job training, social networking, and a host of ever-growing online resources.
Participating Montana Libraries
After extensive communication with all public libraries in Montana, 42 libraries have been selected to participate in our project based on 1) the demonstrated need of the library and surrounding geography, 2) their ability and willingness to sustain investments in their computing center, 3) their ability and willingness to sustain increases in broadband service, and 4) their ability to adhere to BTOP reporting requirements. While some libraries were not included, MSL hopes to address these libraries’ needs through future grant opportunities and, potentially, through increased budget expenditures from the state over time.
Many community-based and statewide partners are assisting local librarians and patrons with efficiently locating ever-growing online resources. These resources include but are not limited to: self- help law resources, employment opportunities, public benefits enrollment, career training, distance learning, and social networking. We are privileged to partner with:
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Montana Department of Labor & Industry, Workforce Services Division
Montana Digital Academy (MTDA) at the University of Montana
The Supreme Court of Montana Self-Help Law Program
Census and Economic Information Center of the Montana Department of Commerce
Montana Legal Services Association
State Law Library of Montana
The United States Department of Commerce-Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
$665,000 (cash match)
Montana State Library and Local Libraries
$202,231 (in-kind match)
To learn more about our progress, visit our project page on the Recovery.Gov website.
Requests for Information Archive
Montana State Library provides information requested by the public regarding the BTOP project.
- 11/18/10 - Participating libraries, existing broadband services, proposed upgrades, and anticipated timeline. More...
- 11/17/10 - Participating libraries, existing broadband services, proposed upgrades, and anticipated timeline. More...