Describe the need that you’re trying to address.
Twin Lakes Library System is located in Baldwin County, Georgia, which has many communities with high poverty rates, community members without reliable transportation, and low levels of library card holders. To meet this need, we propose the following core and experimental TVWS programs.
- Installation of TVWS equipment at public parks and community centers to activate these public spaces by providing free wi-fi.
- Summertime programs in local parks and greenways that encourage and reward repeat visits by community members with a “Greenspace Bingo”.
- Interactive community engagement days that solicit community input on local issues through Google forms.
- Partnerships with schools and hospitals to promote literacy and health events.
- Trial projects to test the demand and potential of a MESH network in local under-served communities.
- A partnership with local farmers to provide a pop-up farmers market and bookmobile, alleviating food and book deserts through efficient resource sharing.
In addition to the above programs, we will coordinate with the local county emergency response agency, who will include the resources provided by the TVWS equipment in their strategic planning. We will utilize our promotional outreach and those of our partners to increase community involvement.
What would be a successful outcome for your project?
Successful outcomes for us would be to increase the impact of the library in outlying communities, to increase the economic and educational opportunities in these neighborhoods through library services and internet access, and to provide portable wi-fi equipment that can be rapidly deployed during emergency or disaster response conditions.
We would be able to directly measure the impact of this program through usage data, library card sign-ups in this community, and through expected increases in the usage of our digital resources. For the library and our local citizens, this will mean increased return on investment of our resources. Perhaps more importantly, we hope to increase the partnership opportunities for the library in the diverse communities of Baldwin County, and to benefit these communities through the use of our services.
On a broader scale, we would like to demonstrate some of the potential uses of this project to rural communities, who we feel will especially benefit from this service, as more open channels tend to exist in rural spaces. While we have a recently upgraded wi-fi network in our main downtown Milledgeville branch with an average bandwidth of 30mbps, this does not reach many of our patrons and community members where they may need it the most: in their neighborhoods. We hope to position the library as an important resource in community development in rural neighborhoods, demonstrating how we can leverage our position as a trusted neighborhood institution to provide internet access to community members who cannot afford access, or who rely on smartphone data plans to access the internet.
Our library has utilized a hotspot with a data subscription for outreach programs before, and while this has been mostly effective, there have been issues with cellular service and with the increasing cost of such data subscriptions. The TV White Space equipment, which does not need a subscription, would be an ideal resource for semi-permanent installations. Having taken the TVWS course, I feel prepared to implement this program in our community, to the benefit of those neighborhoods which, so far, have under-utilized library services, even though they may need it the most.
For the locations that we have selected for our planned equipment sites, we will be providing internet access to underserved populations in our communities, including those with high levels of poverty, low literacy levels, and without access to reliable transportation. The locations of Collins P. Lee and Huley Park, in particular, are located in neighborhoods that are dealing with the above-mentioned issues. The other locations listed (Oconee Greenway, Walter B. Williams, and Central City) serve a diverse set of Milledgeville and Baldwin County’s population, including both underserved populations but also middle-class residents, college students, and retirees. By extended library services to these areas, we hope to expand our library’s relevancy in our community and bring the democratic value of equity that the library has traditionally championed.
Please list your team members or partners and their roles.
Stephen Houser, Library Director: Coordinator of library outreach programming, equipment installation, and partnerships for this project.
Troy Reynolds, Baldwin County EMA Director: Coordinating Baldwin County Emergency Response, Troy will be able to direct the use of TV White Space equipment in emergency and disaster situations.
Murali Thirumal & Katherine Lacksen, Milledgeville Habitat for Humanity: Through their Neighborhood Revitalization Program and outreach into the community, Murali and Katherine will be able to help the library align its programming with the needs of the neighborhoods that we are trying to serve, along with tapping into their broad network to promote its use.
Chelsea Losh, The Green Market: Will partner with the library to provide mobile farmers markets and local farming educational programming.