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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Idaho Commission for Libraries

Idaho libraries launch ‘citizen tools’ portal

The Idaho Commission for Libraries has launched a new “citizen tools portal” to help people access, track and participate in state government in Idaho. It includes information on following the legislative process, accessing the courts, and finding and verifying news online. You can access the new “Resources for Idaho Citizens” online here; read the commission’s full announcement here.

Rural Idaho libraries are seeing faster broadband service, bears or no…

Though Idaho achieved the dubious distinction this week of being declared the state with the slowest Internet by the New York Times - a study earlier this year showed Idaho has the nation's slowest residential Internet download speeds, the city with the slowest service anywhere was Pocatello, and some Idahoans apparently are having Internet service problems due to interference by bears - the Idaho Commission for Libraries says there's a bright spot in the gem state: Libraries. The commission is in the midst of a statewide broadband deployment initiative that's sharply increasing the broadband speeds at some of the state's least-connected public libraries. It's funded through grants from the Federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gens Johnson, BTOP coordinator for the Idaho libraries commission, said, the “online@your library” project is making high-speed Internet available to more and more Idahoans, regardless of their residential service speeds.

Among the 56 mostly rural libraries that have benefited so far: The public library in tiny Preston, Idaho got 12 new computers and 11 mbps broadband connections; and the Sandpoint library jumped up to 45 mbps broadband and got 22 new computers. Libraries in the program have gone from average upload and download speeds of 1.5 mbps, to 11 mbps for downloads and 8 mbps for uploads. The program also adds wi-fi service to libraries so patrons can get service on their own computers. You can read the Commission for Libraries full statement here.

Library summer reading programs swell

The number of Idaho children and teens participating in this year’s Summer Reading Program at their public libraries was up 9 percent to a record 69,000. The Idaho Commission for Libraries reports that since it launched its “Bright Futures” program in 2004, which includes a “Read to Me” program, school and outreach visits and more, summer reading enrollment has more than doubled. “More Idaho children participate in summer reading programs than any other organized youth program in the state,” the commission reported.

Libraries around the state told the commission that factors helping drive increased enrollment this year included, among others, the economy driving more families to libraries for free services and programs.

It’s still free: Summer of recession saw kids flock to library programs

This past summer saw a big jump in participation in Idaho libraries’ summer reading programs for kids, which registered 63,300 children, 38 percent more than 2008. “Every  year we hope to see the numbers of children being reached by these valuable programs increase, but we were totally blown away by the numbers this year,” said Idaho Commission for Libraries summer reading coordinator Peggy McClendon. “We know more families may have stuck closer to home this year, but all the work librarians are doing with outreach to schools, daycares, and other community partners is also really paying off. The outreach statistics show that libraries are reaching more low-income and underserved children than ever.”

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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