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Public Information and Communication

September 2, 2010

Mary Jo Ryan

Nebraska Library Commission Awarded $3.6 Million to Upgrade Public Computer Centers in 147 Library Buildings

The Nebraska Library Commission announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded the Library Commission a $2,416,403 grant to fund Nebraska's public computer center project, Library Broadband Builds Nebraska Communities. The three-year project is designed to expand broadband capacity; upgrade public computing resources in libraries; and advance access to employment, learning, health information, and E-Government services. The Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), provides funding to expand broadband access and adoption in communities across the U.S. and intends to increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits. In addition to the federal grant, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $1,251,786 in matching funds, including a grant and technical assistance to support the project. The total project budget is $3,668,189.

This grant project will increase connectivity in 45 of Nebraska's public library buildings, as well as deploy more than 600 new computer workstations and upgrade another 475 at 147 public library locations. With this increased capacity to deliver rich Internet content and provide computer literacy training at libraries across the state, the project will partner with other state agencies and organizations to provide services in education, workforce development, and E-Government to 13,300 weekly users at libraries. As many as 42,700 Nebraskans will benefit from approximately 384,500 hours of education over the three years of the project.

"The broadband technology grant presents an unprecedented opportunity for many Nebraska public libraries to upgrade their public computing capacity for serving community residents," said Rod Wagner, Nebraska Library Commission Director. "Technology enhancements will result in measurable increases in use of library computers for E-Government, learning, employment information, and more. The ultimate benefit goes to the many Nebraskans who will have greater access to library computers and high-speed connectivity networks for personal, education, and job-related needs."

"Federal investments in connecting libraries to high-quality Internet service are critical to realizing the universal broadband access our country needs," said Jill Nishi, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's U.S. Libraries program. "When libraries provide broadband to communities, they can deliver valuable online opportunities that help people find jobs, further their education, and access important government information. We hope that this BTOP award and the project it supports will help other public and private funders to understand the importance of investing in public technology access at Nebraska's libraries."

Library computer center locations will serve as the delivery platform for educational programs, providing Nebraskans with access to audio and video webinar content and interactive computer-based training. Key project partners - such as Central Community College, Nebraska Department of Labor, Nebraska Court Administrator's Office, Nebraska Community Foundation, Center for Rural Affairs, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, University of Nebraska Medical Center McGoogan Library of Medicine, and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine - will facilitate these programs.

An outreach and public awareness campaign will feature special promotional programs, such as "Public Computer Center Learning Nights," to encourage residents to explore the enhanced computer and broadband services available at the centers. This grant will enable Nebraska libraries to continue to provide critically important services and to expand the opportunities, education, and services that high-speed Internet can provide to the un-served and underserved in Nebraska communities.

For more information about this project and a list of the participating libraries, see, and see for the NTIA announcement.

About the Nebraska Library Commission
As Nebraska's state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services-"bringing together people and information." The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, (search on News Releases).

About the NTIA
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policies.  In this role, NTIA frequently works with other Executive Branch agencies to develop and present the Administration's position on these issues. Since its creation in 1978, NTIA has been at the cutting edge of critical issues.  In addition to representing the Executive Branch in both domestic and international telecommunications and information policy activities, NTIA also manages the Federal use of spectrum; performs cutting-edge telecommunications research and engineering, including resolving technical telecommunications issues for the Federal government and private sector; and administers infrastructure and public telecommunications facilities grants.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at or join the conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, contact Tessa Terry.