Library to benefit from technology grant

Library advocates and supporters, librarians and partners came together in Helena last week for a two-day celebration that launched the Montana State Library’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Project (BTOP).

Conrad librarian Carolyn Donath, representing the town’s library, attended the event.

The state library received a $1,829,473 grant to fund its “Enhancing Computer Centers at Montana Public Libraries” project, which is designed to expand broadband capacity and training in many of Montana’s public libraries.

An additional $867,231 in matching funds was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Funding for the “Connect @ your library” BTOP launch meeting was provided by Connected Nation through a grant, also, from the Gates Foundation.

Donath tells the I-O, “Montana’s libraries, by providing free access to information and opportunity for all Montanans, plays a vital role in the states’ education and economic futures.”

She went on to say, “As access to the Internet becomes more and more vital, our libraries will play an even more important part in maintaining our communities’ way of life, while contributing to future economic development.”

As a result of this grant, the Conrad Public Library will be receiving four new public computers, two laptop computers, three monitor upgrades, media software, a WLAN upgrade and a proposed broadband speed increase from 1-10 Mbps.

Providing fast Internet service to Montana’s most rural areas remains a challenge, but the state library is taking some big steps to make the technology available in more and more places as it launches its $2.7 million, three-year program to make more computers and higher Internet speeds available at 42 Montana libraries spanning 29 counties that are home to 86 percent of the state’s population.

“Bringing all 42 of the grant’s participating libraries together with program partners and community and state leaders was an excellent way to kickoff the hard work that this grant will require of so many of us,” said Darlene Staffeldt, Montana State Librarian.

The grant officially began on July 1 and will conclude on June 30, 2013.

To learn more about the grant in Conrad, contact the library at 271-5751.