Broadband Update: Statewide Digital Equity Plan, Multipurpose Community Facilities, and More | Compendium

Hello Pennsylvania Libraries,

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority is implementing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Statewide Broadband Plan and working towards Internet For All.   The messages below summarize and highlight information about potential opportunities to participate and ensure ALL Pennsylvanians can access and effectively use high speed internet and that libraries as community anchor institutions are well informed.

Libraries that engage with their community needs around digital technology access should be informing and working with partners (neighboring libraries, other community anchor institutions, muncipal entities, education affiliates, digital equity coalitions, health organizations, community and economic development groups, and workforce development organizations) to ensure these once in a lifetime opportunities to attain digital equity are not missed.

Consider a Multipurpose Community Facility Proposal

At the November 30, 2023 PBDA Meeting, Guidelines for the Multipurpose Community Facility Program, a part of the Capital Projects Fund were approved.  You can download a preview of the approved guidelines in the meeting packet and expect to see them posted formally soon.

The grant application period will open in January of 2024.  Consider this opportunity to meet community needs for a place for education, workforce development, where broadband access can be shared and digital literacy can be taught.

Provide Comments to the Statewide Digital Equity Plan During the Public Comment Period

Please read the message below from the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority and take time to consider providing feedback on Connected and Empowered: A Digital Equity Plan for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Pay special attention to where libraries can play a pivotal role as community anchor institutions:

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (PBDA) has drafted its Statewide Digital Equity Plan (Plan), as is required through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Digital Equity Act. The Plan outlines the disparities in digital equity across the commonwealth, existing assets that are in place to bridge the digital equity divide, how the PBDA engaged with a diverse set of stakeholders, industry leaders, and subject matter experts, and how the PBDA will implement this plan across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This plan would not have been possible without the dedication of the public and our stakeholders, and we look forward to continuing to partner in our mission to provide “Internet for All”.

The draft Plan is now available for review and feedback. Input on the draft Plan is vital to its success and will ensure that the PBDA has listened and incorporated experience and needs from every corner of the state. Public Comment will be open at 12PM EST, Monday November 27, 2023 and will close at 12PM EST on Monday January 8, 2024. The PBDA has identified 3 processes to submit comments, which are outlined on the PBDA Digital Equity Act website.

Lastly, the PBDA will be posting a recording that provides details on how to submit public comment on the draft Statewide Digital Equity Plan, in the coming days. There are also a number of in-person Public Comment sessions being scheduled across the commonwealth, details of each session as well as registration is also available on the PBDA site.

Please note that the PBDA is also finalizing translations of the Executive Summary into 6 other languages, which will be posted and available for review as well.

Promote the Affordable Connectivity Program

Libraries are encouraged to post signage, share information, and ensure staff are aware of and can offer information about the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Engage and Serve

Be a strong community anchor institution and engage and understand community technology and digital literacy needs while you build relationships with partner organizations. 

Ensure your library has the fastest and most reliable internet connection with well-planned and future ready public access technologies.  Take time to ensure that staff are able to assist patrons with digital literacy needs and offer digital literacy classes and services when needed.

If your library has ideas to improve digital equity in your area and you want to talk about them, email Carrie at Office of Commonwealth Libraries to schedule a conversation.