When the spring thaw finally arrives, dozens of library users across Wisconsin, many of them in rural communities, will eventually have better access to the Internet.
Crews will begin digging to install fiber optic cables that will deliver more bandwidth and faster Internet speeds to library computers. A $4 million grant from the state and local telecommunications companies are paying for the upgrades at about 300 libraries across Wisconsin.
Libraries in Colby, Dorchester, Greenwood, Loyal, Medford, Owen, Thorp and Abbotsford are among those which will get upgraded fiber optic connections this year with funding from the state's Technology for Education Achievement, or TEACH, program and local telecommunications companies that provide broadband services to the state through the BadgerNet Converged Network.
"These libraries will have a more robust and larger pipeline to deliver Internet services, which they make available to library users," said Mark Weller, president of Access Wisconsin, which coordinates the activities of independent telephone companies that serve educational and government users through BadgerNet. "As the need for more bandwidth grows, those libraries will be future proof."
Crews will begin digging to install the fiber optic cables when the ground thaws and installation will be complete at all libraries by fall, according to the News-Herald Media.
Weller says faster Internet speeds and more bandwidth can help library staff become more efficient in cataloging, requesting materials and other basic functions.