A member-owned nonprofit network and a telecommunications cooperative are helping seven regional libraries in mountainous northeast Georgia improve services for patrons with fast, affordable, reliable connectivity.
Collaboration for Community
The North Georgia Network Cooperative (NGN), in partnership with member-owned Georgia Public Web (GPW), recently launched 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) symmetrical broadband access speeds in seven library facilities in the Northeast Georgia Regional Library system (NEGRLS). Upgrades in some of the locations were significant. At the Helen library campus, the facility switched from a 6 Mbps download DSL connection to the new service.
The new initiative also enables the complementary “NGN Connect” service which includes hosted Wi-Fi service and a VoIP telephone system at each location. The upgrade extends from the cooperative's role in the Education Exchange, Georgia's only regional 10 Gigabit per second (Gbps) private cloud for exclusive use by school systems launched last September.
Helping Rural Georgians Help Themselves
Donna Unger, director of member services for NGN, explained NGN’s mission for the project:
I've often heard libraries build communities, it's very fitting that we are here today celebrating the new 100 Mbps connection to the Northeast Georgia Regional Library System provided by NGN Connect. This is what we're about, NGN's foundation was built upon the communities in which we serve. It's becoming more critical for libraries, government, education and businesses alike to have reliable and affordable bandwidth to meet the daily demands of the ever-changing dynamics of today's digital world.
NEGRLS Director Delana L. Knight highlighted the initiative’s benefits:
Offering free access to this important resource is another way that our local public libraries are empowering our communities by providing support for job seekers, students, as well as almost limitless educational and entertainment opportunities for all citizens.
The 21st Century Library
At a time when our economy depends so heavily on fast, affordable, reliable connectivity, centralized libraries with high-speed Internet access remain vital to those still lacking it at home. GPW and NGN display a manner common among publicly owned networks - they are concerned less with profit than with serving their communities. Paul Belk, NGN's CEO, explained the philosophy behind this approach:
The strength of our communities, our economy, and workforce all starts in our schools...as a community-owned company, it’s our job to give back and use our resources to better the next generation.