Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $150,000 in federal funding for the Southern Tier Library System (STLS) in Allegany, Steuben, Yates, Schuyler, and Chemung counties. The funding was allocated by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and will allow the STLS to upgrade existing fiber infrastructure that delivers broadband internet capabilities connecting 21 of its public libraries in the five-county region.
“Investing in the Southern Tier’s internet access is a smart move that enhances access to information and broadband for area residents and will pay dividends for years to come,” said Senator Schumer. “This funding will give the Southern Tier Library System the resources it needs to improve internet access for the benefit of visitors and employees alike.”
“This is a major investment for the Southern Tier,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Reliable, fast internet access isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy. These federal funds will allow the Southern Tier Library System to upgrade their broadband capabilities so children and families have more online access at their local library. ”
“The Southern Tier Library System is thrilled to receive this support through the Appalachian Regional Commission. It will empower 270,000 rural residents with broadband access that exceeds New York State standards through their local public library. It is just one of many ways our libraries level the playing field to educational, cultural, technological and economic opportunity. Ultimately, this will strengthen the quality of life in the Southern Tier,” said Brian M. Hildreth, Executive Director of Southern Tier Library System.
Last year, Senator Gillibrand introduced the Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act, bipartisan legislation that would help close the broadband gap in rural areas to help ensure that all New Yorkers have access to high-speed Internet. The legislation would allow for federal grants of up to 50 percent of a project’s cost, and up to 75 percent for remote, high-need areas, to be awarded in combination with loan funding already available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. This legislation also doubles the authorized funding for the Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband programs to $50 million per fiscal year.
The Appalachian Regional Commission is a partnership between the federal government and 12 state governments focusing on investment in the Appalachian region. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis to the applicants that most closely address the ARC’s priorities and demonstrate financial need. More information on the Appalachian Regional Commission’s grants can be accessed at https://www.arc.gov/grants.
The full text of Gillibrand’s letter to the Appalachian Regional Commission is included here and below:
Mr. Earl F. Gohl
Appalachian Regional Commission
1666 Connecticut Avenue, NY
Washington, DC 20009-1068
Dear Co-Chair Gohl,
I write in support of the application submitted by the Southern Tier Library System (STLS) for funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The funding will be used to upgrade telecommunication technology in STLS libraries
STLS serves as the lead agency for public libraries in Alleghany, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates counties. They provide support services to 48 public libraries throughout the five-county region, and empower over 280,000 residents with 21st century public library services. In addition to the delivery of library materials, outreach programs, professional consulting, and library training, Southern Tier Library Systems provides information technology support to all Southern Tier libraries. This support includes networking of hardware and software, maintenance of database infrastructures, and oversight of internet connectivity.
The requested funding will allow STLS to purchase equipment and supplies in order to connect Southern Tier libraries to Southern Tier Network Dark Fiber. STLS will enhance its services as the primary IT provider to the region’s public libraries, and aid in local economic development by bringing high-speed internet through dark fiber into rural Southern Tier communities.
Ultimately, this project will improve Appalachian New York’s infrastructure to make the region more economically competitive by increasing the accessibility and use of telecommunications technology.
United States Senator