“My name is Kendra and I’m a former state E-rate Coordinator.”
That statement feels like a combination of a confession and badge of honor – and if you’ve done any work with the E-rate program, you know what I mean. There is a special kinship among people who have been involved with E-rate, because it can feel like you have survived the gauntlet after completing the process. Solidarity in the trenches!
If you aren’t familiar with the federal E-rate program, it brings discounts for telecommunications and internet access to U.S. schools and libraries. When I worked at The Library of Virginia, I helped libraries apply for funding and navigate the rules of the program and meet filing deadlines. And I will be the first to admit that this is a time investment and a lot to pay attention to – but E-rate can also be a solution that brings a lot of money back to the library that can be used to support other needs and programs. And let’s face it, what library doesn’t need a few extra dollars?
If you’ve never applied for E-rate funding for your library, or have done it in the past but were put off by the paperwork, I would encourage you to come to our free webinar on February 2 to hear about how you can successfully navigate the program. There have been some significant changes to the program in the past year and I’m hopeful that this will mean more libraries will apply for the discounts that they are eligible for.
We’ll be joined Donna Mattingly and Greg Weisiger from E-rate Central who will share their E-rate expertise and also give you some time to ask questions. E-rate experts at your disposal for an hour? Sounds like good fun on a Wednesday to me!
Registration for this free, online webinar is now open and we’ll be archiving it in case you miss the live event.
This week at BlogJunction has been full of additions on previous posts, here and elsewhere. It’s a theme. We’re building something.
Today’s post builds on an earlier announcement about a webinar hosted by ALA’s Washington Office – How to Connect (to federal broadband funds BTOP or BIP). The archive is not yet posted but the presentation materials are posted at ALA’s Broadband Resources page. In this week’s Technology Essentials online conference hosted by WebJunction, Wendy Knapp and Mary Alice Ball presented on Funding for Broadband: Indiana and Beyond. Their presentation reconnected me personally to this issue so critical to public access to information, especially important for libraries where they are the only option for such access in their communities.
The most urgent message in their presentation was this: there is federal support for this and every year schools and libraries are not accessing it.
It’s no wonder. It’s a challenging application process, especially if you’re not supported in the effort by a larger organization like state library or regional consortia. But the application process for the second and last round of funding begins on February 16 and ends on March 15. I can vouch for the fact that federal grant application processes are more challenging than the others I’ve worked with. But this application process has supposedly been streamlined since the first round, so don’t let that scare you away. It wouldn’t hurt to check out the ALA webinar once it is posted or check out the workshop recordings from regional workshops on both programs. Or take a look at Stephanie Gerding’s Library Grant 101 materials if this is a first grant application process.
All that said, here’s the bottom line:
The Recovery Act appropriated $7.2 billion and directed the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits. The result is the RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) and the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).
BIP will make loans and grants for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas.
BTOP will provide grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers and sustainable broadband adoption projects.
A very nice summary of BIP’s process was presented at the webinar, and will give you a high-level overview of the process and how to complete a successful application. Everything you need to know about the official application process is at BroadbandUSA.gov.
If you’d like to get more involved in broadband access issues, our presenters suggested working with ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). Thank you to these presenters for reminding me how important this topic is for rural libraries! I’d love to hear your experiences with any of these programs…is there more we should be doing to help each other with this process? Let us know…
Last week, Jennifer mentioned the department of agriculture’s recent announcement about $100 million in grants and loans for rural libraries. I wanted to know a bit more about the program, so checked into it a little bit more. Here’s what I found.
· The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has designated approximately $100 million in grants and loans (texas state library blog says they’ve learned it’s mostly loans and “a much smaller number of grants”) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support public libraries in rural areas or small towns. Loans can be repaid over 40 years, and are available to institutions who can’t otherwise get credit.
· Definition of rural is serving under 20,000 (similar to WJ definition of a small/rural library serving < 25,000).
· Administered through the Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Programs, the funds will support the construction, enlargement, or improvement of public library facilities along with the purchase of facility equipment.
· Depending on funding availability, RD plans to provide up to $500,000 in additional grant funds to each State Office through the Community Facilities American Recovery Reinvestment Act grant account for library projects.
· Funds may be used for costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees, and purchase equipment required for a facility’s operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment, and bookmobiles.
· Applications will be accepted through the USDA Rural Development regional field offices (different for every state) http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs
· Community Facilities Grants are authorized on a graduated scale. Applicants located in smaller communities with low populations and low incomes will receive a higher percentage of grants. Grant funding limitations are based on population and income, economic feasibility, and availability of funds
Links to more info
· USDA fact sheet on the program (PDF): http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/USDA.pdf
· ALA Washington Office press release: http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2010/january2010/usdadesignates_wo.cfm
The Secretary of Agriculture has allocated $100 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities funding for public libraries to provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities. The funding will be provided primarily through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In 78 percent of rural communities, the library is the sole provider of no-fee Internet access,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said. “This funding specifically set aside for rural libraries is a lifeline for communities across the country who depend on their local libraries for basic needs such as Internet access as well as assistance with e-government services, literacy and homework programs, and much more. We thank the USDA for its recognition of the vital role libraries play in rural communities and their need for funding.” Funds may be used to construct, enlarge or improve public libraries. This can include costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees and purchase equipment required for operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment and bookmobiles.
· Association for Small & Rural Libraries re-posted fact sheet information on their grants section: http://www.arsl.info/links/grant-news/usda-funds/
Selected blog mentions
These posts mostly repost the info; a few other state libraries, systems, or associations posted as well but this gives you a good sense for who picked it up.
· Marshall Breeding: http://www.librarytechnology.org/ltg-displaytext.pl?RC=14494
· TX state library: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/librarydevelopments/?p=2374
· Libraries in the News: http://www.ilovelibraries.ala.org/news/?p=686
· Southern Adirondack Library System: http://salsblog.sals.edu/index.php/2010/01/27/money-for-rural-libraries/comment-page-1/ (this post does offer a local contact for assistance)
To those of you who are investigating these loan and grant options and application process, is there anything that WebJunction can do to support this process for everyone? It might be helpful to share applications, tips or tricks for going through the process, or lessons learned once awards are made. Let us know what you’d like to see or how we can help.
The Secretary of Agriculture announced in a 1/26/10 press release that the department has designated $100 million in USDA Rural Development Community Facilities funding for public libraries. The program will provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities.
For more information on the program and how to apply, see the USDA Rural Development fact sheet.
Applications are handled by USDA Rural Development field offices. To reach the USDA Rural Development contact for a specific state, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ – adding the two-letter initial of the state to the end of the URL.
If you’re not confused by all the acronyms flying around the federal stimulus package, then it’s a miracle! Everybody’s talking about what portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) should go to libraries, but there are certainly not enough folks who understand how to apply for the funds. Thankfully, ALA’s Know Your Stimulus site is helping libraries navigate through the minefield of red tape. I recommend registering for their upcoming ALA webinar on August 5: Nuts and Bolts – Broadband Grant Application Assistance. They’ll help distinguish the BTOP from the NTIA and the NOFA from the RUS (!) Honestly the only thing I feel fairly certain I understand is that there will be 3 rounds of funding and that the first deadline is August 15, so get crackin’!
Tell us what you’re learning about the Broadband Stimulus
Sure you do! Considering that, you’ll want to seriously consider registering for (required) and then attending our next webinar, “Finding Funds for Preservation” on Tuesday, May 5th (2:00-3:00pm EST). You’ll hear from the Library of Congress’ Chief of Conservation, Diane Vogt-O’Conner, as she covers, well, we’ll let her tell you about that:
“Preserving our collections so they may be made accessible through time is a core activity of all cultural repositories. Lately, librarians, archivists, and special collections curators are finding it increasingly challenging to find resources for preservation and conservation due to budget cut-backs, downsizing, and tough financial times. Many professionals do not realize that with a bit of creativity and some planning, there are many sources of preservation funds you may tap. This Webinar focuses on a wide variety of funding sources that repository staff may use to fund preservation evaluations and surveys, treatment and collections stabilization work, preservation reformatting work, collections management, and emergency response funds. Focusing on federal, state, local, and international sources, this webinar explains the range of funding options available, tells you how to identify your likeliest sources, and explains the most successful strategies and tactics for obtaining funding.”
So please join us for the free webinar ad get inspired and connect to hundreds of potential grants worth many, many thousands of dollars to your library and community!
Librarian Lesson #1 here at ALA MW in Denver: align priorities and learn when to sometimes say “NO.” The message at my table at the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) Breakfast among skilled Project Managers, Supervisors, and Directors was simple: use regular, structured, F2F and online interactions with the public to nail down ”the mission,” then put “results” above all else in selecting and structuring projects that get the maximum bang for the bite. To do this well, it sometimes means saying no, or at least “not now.” Scope creep can render projects and actions null and void. Pinpoint focus on a mission… the right one, gets us to the next (big) thing all the sooner.
I know, it’s a solemn reminder for the day after, but I wanted to check in with folks who were hoping for the passage of library bonds yesterday.
I’ve heard both good news and bad about library bonds passing. I’m hoping folks will share their stories here as a comment or in a WJ discussion. Because we’re getting ready to launch our Virtual Town Hall in December these types of conversations will also be useful in helping the WJ community build a solid foundation for the series.
Virtual Town Hall: Focus on Tough Economic Times
This December, WebJunction is hosting a series of three webinars on the topic of Libraries in Tough Economic Times. Join us in a new Virtual Town Hall format designed engage all attendees with questions, brainstorms, stories, and to collect practical strategies. We’ve picked 3 different days and times to accommodate as many schedules as possible, but you’re encouraged to join us for as many of the sessions as you are able.
I’ve started a Town Hall discussion to get the conversation rolling and to get input as we decide on topics for focus. I think that library bonds are certainly worthy of focus. Other ideas include:
Please plan on bringing your questions and strategies to the events. All attendees will be encouraged to participate, but if you’ve got something meaty to share, let us know so we can get your slides or pictures into the Virtual Town Hall before the session begins.
I’ve been itchin’ to use the Wimba Classroom for more informal virtual gatherings like this and look forward to the series. With your participation, we as a community can begin to tackle many of the challenges that lie ahead for our libraries.
During this limited-time offer beginning TODAY and lasting until Thursday, September 25, at 5 p.m. Pacific time, one-year GrantStation memberships are available to eligible nonprofits and public libraries for only $99, a savings of $300 over TechSoup’s regular administrative fee. (The regular retail price is $599.) Organizations may also renew their existing memberships with this special offer.
A GrantStation membership provides online access to a comprehensive database of current funding sources and additional tools to help public libraries and non-profits successfully secure funding.