KINBER, Office of Commonwealth Libraries Announce Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband Resources Project

HARRISBURG, Pa. (April 7, 2021)– The Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER) and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL) today announced the Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband Resources project, an initiative to improve access to broadband services in and beyond libraries across the commonwealth’s underserved and unserved communities.

“Libraries are community anchor institutions that play a critical role in providing free access to technology to those who may not have access otherwise,” said Glenn R. Miller, deputy secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. “Throughout the pandemic, we have heard countless stories of individuals and families who have used library devices orWi-Fi from parking lots to complete homework, attend classes or job interviews, connect with loved ones, and more. Libraries are community partners that provide critical resources and tools that support families, schools, municipalities, businesses and organizations. This project will help libraries and their communities build technology capacity for Pennsylvanians in need.”

Pennsylvania’s public libraries are the core of the project, as they are positioned to serve as community liaisons to provide critical broadband information, resources and project identification to their communities in need. The newly established project will allow KINBER to continue to support the libraries who are at the foundation of this project.

“KINBER is pleased to collaborate with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries,” said Nathan Flood, president and CEO of KINBER. “We understand the needs and services that are essential to support the targeted communities across the state that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lack of available connectivity and broadband resources.”

The Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband project will:

●     Provide participating libraries with the resources and infrastructure to strengthen their abilities to serve the community through broadband internet access;

●     Host training and education opportunities for participating librarians and staff through workshops, virtual events and webinars so libraries will be able to serve as community conveners amongst stakeholders to organize countywide broadband recommendations; and

●     Offer libraries support and mechanisms to identify and accumulate critical broadband needs and projects within the community.

As Pennsylvania’s statewide research, education and community network, KINBER is uniquely positioned to successfully help facilitate and execute this project, maximizing the impact of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds and serving the most possible community anchors and populations in identified counties of greatest need.

Under the guidance of OCL, KINBER will serve as managing agency for the Libraries Connect Communities and Broadband Resources project to build capacity through library staff for broadband internet solutions and connected resources.