Gigabit Libraries Network Announces “Beyond the Walls” Award Winners

  • Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB)
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
  • National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)
  • San Jose State University School of Information (iSchool)
  • Schools
  • The Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN), in partnership with San Jose State University’s School of Information (iSchool), announced that a total nine projects will receive funding and support to expand the Libraries WhiteSpace Project.

Sponsorship for the campaign originated through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS): "Libraries Leading in Digital Inclusion and Disaster Response via TV WhiteSpace Wireless Connections.” Five libraries in Maine, Georgia, Nebraska, South Dakota and Washington will receive awards under the IMLS grant.

Underwriting the Costs of Equipment and Installation
These funds will underwrite the costs of equipment and installation for libraries who’ve initiated partnership
projects with other community institutions to explore and develop innovative uses for TV WhiteSpace (TVWS) network technologies to support remote fixed and portable library access points at new locations in their communities starting this summer.

Like Wi-Fi, TVWS units use free open spectrum, requiring no third-party carriers, ongoing fees, licenses
or other permissions for use as wide area intra-facility networks. But unlike Wi-Fi, TVWS has long range
and penetrative capabilities that can support broadband connections over miles and around or through
obstructions like trees and buildings.

An Infrastructure that Favors Rural Areas
“This may be the first time the economics of any infrastructure has favored rural areas because they typically
have an abundance of valuable open public spectrum. The time has arrived for the country to finally take advantage of this powerful new communications resource, too long in the making,” notes project co-director, Don Means of the Gigabit Libraries Network.

Additional Support from Microsoft and the Library of Michigan
Four additional projects will be funded with support from state, local and private sources. While the Beyond
the Walls awards will support library led projects in almost every region of the country, Microsoft
and the Library of Michigan have stepped up to provide additional support to enable three additional
projects. Another library applicant from Pennsylvania has obtained local support, making nine total participating
projects in seven states as of today’s announcement.

“Microsoft is pleased to partner with the Gigabit Libraries Network and the Library of Michigan to empower
libraries and other community institutions exploring the many applications for TV White Space
connectivity in the state. We applaud the Institute of Museum and Library Services for its leadership in
providing the core grant to enable the national Beyond the Walls initiative,” says Paul Garnett, Microsoft’s
director of affordable access initiatives.

Details and objectives for each of the individual project plans are available on the Beyond the Walls page
at GigLibraries.Net. Winning proposals have shown creativity in thinking of new ways and locations to
install remote library Wi-Fi access points. They also demonstrate an ability to collaborate with other community
institutions like schools, health clinics, community centers, post offices, shelters, etc. An important
secondary use for these TVWS enabled hotspots will be as redundant disaster communications resources,
where the units can be installed for rapid redeployment to areas of need in times of crisis.

The Beyond the Walls initiative builds on the work of a grant in 2015 from the Knight Foundation to
GLN in partnership with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to build preliminary
analysis and orientation tools, including a two minute overview video, for libraries interested in exploring
the capabilities of license-free TVWS equipment to inexpensively expand access to a range of institutional
services.

"This initiative will further explore the role of libraries as leading community anchors promoting access
and inclusion through strategic technology integration. There's a nice intersection between what we're
implementing and the concept of community anchors, which has been used by IMLS to describe the role
of libraries in providing civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality to communities,”
says project co-director Kristen Rebmann of SJSU.

Project outreach and proposals review are being supported by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband
Coalition (SHLB), the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and the The Information Technology
Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC).

Participating libraries:
IMLS award winners:

  • Millinocket Memorial Library, Millinocket, ME

  • Twin Lakes Library System, Milledgeville, GA

  • Beatrice Public Library, Beatrice, NE

  • Huron Public Library, Huron, SD

  • Yakama Nation Library, Toppenish, WA


Additional participating libraries:

  • Capital Area District Libraries, Lansing, MI

  • Otsego County Library, Otsego, MI

  • Superiorland Library Cooperative, Marquette, MI

  • Schlow Centre Region Library, State College, PA


The Gigabit Libraries Network operates as an open collaboration of tech savvy, innovation libraries cooperating as a distributed global testbed/showcase environment for high performance applications and equipment in the service of
educational, civic and cultural objectives.

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