In February 2016, the CT State Library established a statewide buying consortium so that all principal public libraries and their branches in the state could use one RFP for the purchase of fiber. Efficient broadband capacity is extremely important in terms of accessibility. As opposed to other technologies like DSL or a cable modem, a fiber connection offers almost unlimited capacity, making it the technology of choice for this project.
The library community has taken a leadership role by partnering with CEN to bring high speed internet connectivity to all citizens regardless of where they reside through federal E-rate and matching State Library bonded funds. CEN provides an enhanced network solution that increases the libraries total bandwidth and also addresses burst performance. Many of the project sites connect underserved communities where connectivity options have remained relatively unchanged for decades.
Since 2017, the State Library Board has approved a total of $1.5M in fiber grants. New high-speed fiber internet connections have been completed to 75 libraries. This has expanded the ability of each library to more effectively reach their constituents and bring on-line more services needed by the community of users. This project not only provides high quality service at reasonable costs, but bridges gaps in the digital divide and helps libraries continue to thrive as community assets.
The project is currently in phase 7 as outlined below:
- Phases 1-6: 75 sites completed
- Phase 7: Awarded on January 14, 2021. 5 committed and moving forward
- The current project across all phases (1–7) will bring total fiber-connected libraries to 171 (including 47 branches), representing 72% of all 239 libraries statewide