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Marin, Calif., Libraries Net Grant to Increase Internet Capacity

A library organization in Marin County has secured a grant from the California State Library to upgrade its Internet networking equipment, work that will involve replacing a core network system at one library.

A tablet on a table with a hand resting on it. Library bookshelves blurred in the background.
(TNS) — A library organization in Marin County has secured a grant from the California State Library to upgrade its internet networking equipment.

The $175,211 award will go to MARINet, a consortium of public and academic libraries in the county. Jessica Trenary, systems administrator for MARINet, led the charge for the funding.

"Even if we didn't get the grant, I thought we should do this project anyway," Trenary said. "It was time to get these updates done."

MARINet member libraries include the Marin County Free Library; the Belvedere Tiburon Library; the Larkspur Library; the Mill Valley Public Library; the San Anselmo Public Library; the San Rafael Public Library; the Sausalito Public Library; the College of Marin Library; and Dominican University's Archbishop Alemany Library. Together the libraries serve more than 265,000 patrons throughout Marin.

The Marin County Free Library system has 10 branches, including the Civic Center, Stinson Beach, Marin City and Novato. San Rafael's public library has three locations.

The upgrades will involve replacing a core network system at the Los Gamos Drive office in San Rafael. The system, also called a backbone network, is the central conduit designed to transfer network traffic at high speeds, Trenary said.

The core will connect to routers and switches at the libraries, improving wireless internet surfing and upload speeds. The entire system update, including the core, is separate from an internet system that assists the private academic libraries at College of Marin and Dominican University, Trenary said.

"This is going to help people because patrons rely on the internet for connectivity, applying for jobs, submitting college applications and checking email," she said. "We want to make sure they can do that faster, better and more reliably."

MARINet has three employees and a budget of approximately $2 million, Trenary said.

Lana Adlawan, the county library director, said the new internet infrastructure would ensure consistent Wi-Fi access and make up for increased demand with tools such as streaming and other technologies.

"We are excited to have the support of the California State Library, who are ensuring public libraries can meet the needs of today's patrons and exceed their expectations," Adlawan said.

Adlawan said there are 415 hotspots available to patrons to check out. Over the previous fiscal year, they were rented about 2,400 times, she said.

There are also 107 public computer terminals across 10 branches. There were 268,000 total public library Wi-Fi sessions logged in the last fiscal year, she said.

MARINet was created to connect library catalogs about 35 years ago. Across the sites the groups have a shared e-book collection, online resources and internet connections.

In 2016, the public libraries in MARINet joined the nonprofit Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, which runs the California Research and Education Network. The network provides high-speed broadband networks for the state's universities, community colleges and public schools.

Marin IT, a Novato technology services company, will lead the installation at the sites over the next year.

Crystal Duran, director of the Belvedere Tiburon Library, said the grants would preserve the library's crucial role as a local information hub.

"Providing internet access at libraries bridges the digital divide in our community, empowering all individuals to explore, learn, connect and thrive in the digital age," Duran said.

© 2024 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.