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Davenport Public Library – Providing Broadband Access to their community

davenportOver in Lincoln County the Davenport Public Library is doing business, but not quite as usual. In 2013 they were the beneficiaries of a Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP) grant as well as a LSTA grant both administered by the Washington State Library. We recently heard from Katy Pike, a librarian at the Davenport library about some of the ways that implementing this grant has impacted the Davenport community. First the numbers. Their speeds used to be a slow 1.5 mbps download and .5 upload. After on average they now receive 20 mbps download and 22 mbps upload speeds. Quite a change.

Katy reports that before the grant it was impossible to run a public and staff computer on the same internet line without competing for the very limited bandwidth.  With the upgrades this is no longer true. Other benefits to the patrons are that many people in the community now use the library computers for filing tax returns, applying for DSHS benefits, career development, online education, and information or entertainment needs. And because of the broadband the Davenport Library now has the capacity to run Microsoft IT Academy from its public computers which will allow the local residents to increase their computer skills, which hopefully will lead to better jobs.

But the best part of the story is not about numbers but about people. Katy told us three of the kind of stories we love to hear, and they seemed like stories to share.

As soon as the library was set up with higher speeds, a teen girl in our community was able to utilize DPL’s internet to meet her homework and entertainment needs. Originally, the internet speed was not sufficient enough to load online programs that were accessible to visually impaired patrons. Now, this young lady uses the library’s downloadable book service and Wi-Fi.

Our fire station across the street from DPL utilized the library’s Wi-Fi when retraining volunteer firefighters in CPR/First Aid. (It was needed to access the instructor’s online education materials.)

The sewing business next door to DPL is utilizes the Wi-Fi to teach crafting classes and to conduct other business transactions.

Katy said that while the library is open only sixteen hours a week, the Wi-Fi extends beyond the walls of the library. People often use the library’s Wi-Fi just by sitting in their cars after hours. All in all, it sounds like the library’s broadband is having a wide range effect on the Davenport community.

Finally a quote from Katy, “E-rate, the equipment awarded from the 2013 Broadband grant, and technology expertise from the Washington State Library allowed the Davenport Public Library to successfully participate with the BTOP grant. The [Davenport] library doesn’t have consistent tech support and doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure to have participated without guidance from the Washington State Library.”

The Washington State Library is working diligently to help support the libraries and by extension the residents of Washington State. Thanks to Katy for sharing her story with us. How has the State Library impacted your community?

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