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Oklahoma Library System Expands Internet Access After Pilot

The Bartlesville Public Library announced its permanent move to increase Internet bandwidth after receiving positive feedback on an emergency increase due to COVID-19 in April.

by Daisy Creager, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise / January 8, 2021

(TNS) — The Bartlesville Public Library is permanently increasing its Internet bandwidth following positive feedback from a temporary state-funded boost.

In April, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's approved a temporary emergency increase in bandwidth, the volume of information sent over the Internet in a second, for public schools, libraries and health care facilities throughout the state to accommodate changes needed for the pandemic.

With its Internet contract with BTC Broadband set to end June 30, the library included the higher bandwidth in the new contract to make the change — from 100 megabits per second to 250 mbps — permanent beyond the emergency increase, which is set to end when the state pandemic emergency status is lifted.

Library patrons have benefitted from the higher bandwidth as the pandemic has led to an increase in telehealth services and virtual learning and working, according to city documents.

"Wireless usage at the library has been an increasingly popular service, from those who use it inside the library both on personal and library devices to those who pull up in the parking lot and use the wireless, and even the surrounding residences who use the wifi," Library Director Shellie McGill said in a statement.

The bandwidth does not include Internet used by the library's 30 Internet hotspots purchased in October to meet local demand for secure Internet access.

Funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the library has a one-year contract with US Cellular to provide each device 4 gigabytes of high-speed Internet.

McGill said patrons typically use 6 to 8 GB when they check out the devices, so the hotspots seem to be meeting a need in the community.

"We are very pleased. We just rolled out the program on Nov. 2, 2020, but hotspots are

checking out continually. We show the 30 hotspots have been checked out 91 times since Nov. 2, 2020. Patrons seems to greatly enjoy this new service," McGill said.

The hotspots can be checked out by individuals 18 and older for up to 21 days at a time.

©2021 the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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