First “LEO Libraries”

Three rural libraries to test community and market impact.

SAN FRANCISCO  June 4, 2021  The Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN) today announced an agreement with SpaceX's Starlink to outfit three small rural public libraries as “beta enterprise” users of its low earth orbit(LEO) satellite broadband system. These are the first libraries to have such a connection.

The beta sites will be the initial phase of a wider study on capabilities and potential benefits of this innovative and potentially revolutionary communications capability that promises to reach almost anywhere.

Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally. Implementation of this LEO technology appears to be yielding faster connection speeds with lower latency than traditional geostationary satellite based services.

There are many things to learn about how these new systems may serve towards closing the persistent rural divide and integrate into the wider telecom ecosystem,” says Don Means, GLN Director. “Who better than public libraries to explore this unique new communications resource for community benefit.”

The first “LEO Library” is the Torreón Community (Navajo) Tribal Library in New Mexico. “The speed is just amazing in our area! I am excited for my community and especially for the students that need this access for school work!,” says Torreón Library Director, Richelle Montoya. Two more libraries in Montana are due to come online within the next two weeks.

The participating libraries were selected in collaboration with the Montana and New Mexico state libraries with support from San Jose State University’s iSchool, a leader in exploratory library wireless projects. “Montana ranks near the bottom of every state ranking for broadband access. We look forward to the opportunity to test this new service model to better understand how it can address the connectivity needs of Montana libraries and our patrons,” adds Jennie Stapp, State Librarian of Montana.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS Grant LG-95-18-0153-18 as part of the Community SecondNets Initiative in a partnership with the Califa group. Este proyecto ha sido posible en parte por el Instituto de Servicios de Museos y Bibliotecas.

GLN operates as an open collaboration of tech savvy, innovation libraries cooperating as a distributed global testbed/showcase environment for high performance applications and equipment in the service of educational, civic and cultural objectives.

Califa Group is a nonprofit library membership consortium of more than 230 libraries and is the largest library network in California. Founded in 2004, Califa brokers and facilitates the procurement of library products; works closely with the California State Library in administering a number of statewide projects supported by federal Library Services and Technology Act funds. http://califa. org/about

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower Americas museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals.

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