Gates Library Grant Initiative: Phase II Opportunity Online Grant FAQs
Phase II Overview
What are the main goals of Phase II of the Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program?
Phase II is a continuation of the program started in the first phase of this grant. The Opportunity Online Hardware Grant is designed to ensure free, high-quality public computing access for people in high need communities by helping libraries purchase necessary hardware, software and peripherals. Additionally, by requiring that libraries apply their advocacy training from the spring of 2008 by securing matching funds, this grant will help libraries create a relationship with their communities to develop a long-term capacity to support free public access computing for their patrons.
What are some of the benefits from participating in Phase II of the Opportunity Online Hardware Grant Program?
Participating libraries will be eligible for:
Funds to add or replace public computer workstations, contingent upon local funds being secured to match the grant Ongoing access to the TechAtlas technology planning and inventory tool Assistance in planning for maintenance, upgrades and eventual replacement of computers and peripherals purchased during this grant.
What are the responsibilities of Phase II Grant participants?
- Phase II Application Forms By March 31, 2009, each participant must complete and submit the match verification and non- supplanting assurance forms. These forms are to be submitted to the appropriate Library System.
- Planning During the spring and summer of 2009, libraries should plan and prepare to order and install their Phase II computers. Additionally they should consider the disposition of any unexpended funds. Libraries will receive their Gates funding in the summer of 2009.
- Computer Installation Computers should be installed during the summer and fall of 2009.
- ALA-FSU survey participation
The ALA-FSU survey must be completed by the deadline established by the Gates Foundation. Generally this deadline should be in early November 2009. The specific deadline will be provided along with completion instructions.
- Tech Atlas Inventory Tech Atlas inventory updates must be finalized by December 1, 2009. Log-in information and instructions will be sent to libraries in the fall of 2009.
- Additional responsibilities
It is not expected that there will be other responsibilities associated with Phase II of the Opportunity Online Hardware Grant. If such should unexpectedly occur, libraries will be given a reasonable time to fulfill them.
How do libraries know of their Phase II hardware allocations?
Computer and financial information for Phase II has been sent to participating libraries and their Library Systems. Additionally, there are allocation charts posted on this website.
Does a library need to purchase all the computers allocated to them in Phase II?
Yes. It is a grant requirement that all the computers granted to a library be acquired. There was a December15, 2007 deadline by which a library needed to commit to the number of computers for which it would secure matching funds. These computers were divided between Phase I and Phase II of this grant. It is expected that libraries thought carefully about this commitment, since it could not be modified after this deadline. Additionally, if financially possible, libraries are invited to purchase more computers than this minimum. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has stated this is its final hardware project for public libraries. Libraries are encouraged to take full advantage of this opportunity to increase the quality and number of computers available for public access computing. Matching Funds
What sources can be used for these matching funds?
Matching funds may be drawn from an existing technology budget, from monies received from the NY State Library (as long as the state funds were earmarked for something technology-related) or from community resources.
The Opportunity Online Hardware grant was designed to help libraries sustain their technology services and strengthen their capacity to conduct advocacy and secure local funding for public access computing. These grants provide an incentive for libraries to engage the community to raise funds and to communicate the value of technology in libraries. It is hoped that libraries will use this grant, and the tools associated with it, to develop community resources. Federal LSTA funds may NOT be used.
The Gates foundation will accept matching funds from the following categories:
- Government Funding-including budget line items
- Foundation or Corporate Giving;
- Other sources -includes Friends Group, trust funds or endowments, book sales, patron donations
By what date must matching funds be secured?
Verification of matching funds must be provided to a library's Library System by March 31, 2009. However, libraries do not have to receive these matching funds until September 1, 2009.
How will the match be verified?
Each participating library will provide written documentation of its match. This form and instructions for its completion have been sent to Phase II participants and is also posted on this website. This form should be sent to a participant's Library System by March 31, 2009 unless otherwise specified. Acceptable documentation may include ANY of the following:
- council or library board resolution committing funds OR
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the appropriate official overseeing the library budget, OR
- letter of commitment from a non-governmental resource such as a community foundation, corporate partner, Friends Group, or other foundation.
What are the other requirements regarding the local matching funds?
In addition to the match verification documentation, libraries must submit a Non-Supplanting Assurance. A sample Assurance form and instructions for preparation and return of this document have been sent to Phase II participants. Additionally, the instructions and form are posted on this website. Basically, the Non-Supplanting requirement means that funding currently committed in a local city/town/state budget to a public library may not be shifted to other local government services because funds have been received from the Opportunity Online Hardware Grant. In addition, funds to support technology within a public library budget may not be transferred to other local services or library budget line items in because of the Hardware Grant. For example, a town cannot shift its funding for public computers in libraries to the parks department, knowing that the Gates Foundation has given the library a grant. Similarly, an individual library cannot shift money originally designated for technology to support collections. Supplanting of funds will make participating libraries ineligible for the program.
Is a library restricted as to the type of computer(s) it may purchase?
As in Phase I, this grant focuses on Public Access Computers, ie. a computer solely for patron use that provides software applications and/or Internet access. Once that requirement is met, libraries may choose hardware that best fits their needs. If space considerations are a factor, it is recommended that a library consider purchasing laptops in the place of desktops. Purchasing wireless cards for these laptop computers plus purchasing and installing a wireless hub is allowed. Children's computers, thin clients, specialized computers for patrons with handicapping conditions may also be purchased. Additionally, technology that supports the library's public hardware infrastructure, such as a server or other network-related item, is an acceptable expenditure
How was the value of the granted computers determined?
The Gates Foundation established a value of $2600 per computer for computers to be purchased in Phase II of the Opportunity Online Hardware Grant. Factored into this value is the understanding that, in addition to purchasing computers, a library can use some of these funds to purchase printers, peripherals, and the training and tech support needed to keep the computers in good working order.
Can a library purchase more computers than the number they were awarded?
If a library's buying power enables it to secure a better price per computer than is allowed through this grant, additional computers may be purchased. ALL the computers purchased are to be used as public access computers. However, even though a library may be able to purchase hardware at a better price, the match amount MUST be based on the $2650 figure, not on how much the computer actually costs.
What types of peripherals and support items can be included with a library's computer purchase?
While an exhaustive list is not possible, the overarching guideline for purchase consideration is, "Will this peripheral support or enhance the quality of public access computing in my community?" Some common items that may be purchased with these funds include wiring, software, printers, scanners, video projectors, special keyboards etc. However, not all funds need to be spent on hardware. This grant does stress the importance of allocating sufficient funds for training and tech support, before purchasing additional peripherals.
Once a library has purchased the required computer(s) and peripherals, what else can it do with the grant funds?
Libraries can establish a fund for future technical support, maintenance, and upgrades for their Opportunity Online computers and public access computing program. It is expected that these funds be expended within four years of the grant conclusion. However, since a goal of this grant is for libraries to plan for and create a sustainable public access computing program, additional local funds may be combined with grant funds to perpetuate this fund.
Is there a deadline for expending grant money set aside to pay for technical support and maintenance?
Technical support and maintenance money can be apportioned over the expected useful life of the computer, which, according to the Gates foundation, is approximately four years.
Can grant funds be used to pay a library system for assistance in selecting, ordering, and installing the new hardware?
Yes, grant funds can be used for this purpose. If the library system is coordinating the purchasing, installation, and technical support for its member libraries, the system can include a reasonable charge for this service in the basic cost of the hardware.
Can grant funds be used to pay costs associated with the disposal of existing computers I have replaced with grant-funded computers?
No. Grant funds are intended for the life cycle of the new computers only and do not cover expenses for computers purchased previously.
What are examples of other items that cannot be covered by grant funds?
Replacing or upgrading staff-only computers or infrastructure is not an appropriate use of funds. Funds cannot be used for connectivity upgrades, ongoing connectivity costs, or non-hardware related items such as MP3 players. Purchasing fees to connect to cable services are not allowed. Libraries can only purchase peripherals for the new computers. For example, larger computer monitors for older computers is not an allowable purchase.
Could software purchases include PC reservation and print management software licenses for public access computers?
Yes, grant funds can be used in this way, since such software will improve the public access computing program. Overall, when the Gates Foundation determined the cost/workstation, that figure included not only the cost of the computer, but also software and licenses.
Tech Atlas & ALA-FSU Surveys
How does a library verify its purchase of computers in Phase II of this grant?
As in Phase I, libraries are required to utilize the TechAtlas Inventory tool. The URL for this tool is http://webjunction.techatlas.org/tools/ This computer inventory, to be submitted no later than December 1, 2009, will be updated by libraries in the fall of 2009. Completing this Tech Atlas inventory will confirm that participating libraries have installed their Phase II computers.
As before, login information and specific instructions will be provided to libraries well before the time when they will need to utilize this utility.
Does TechAtlas have any other features that are useful?
While application of the inventory function is the only mandated use of TechAtlas, other features of this program could be very valuable in meeting the grant goal of improving and sustaining public access computers. In addition to the inventory tool, the following resources are part of TechAtlas:
- Assessments and surveys that are written specifically for library use to evaluate current and future technology as well as the professional development needs of its staff
- Guides to setting technology goals and the ongoing status of their completion
- Tools to track staff assignments and project deadlines
- Budgeting worksheets to plan for funding new and existing technologies
- Evaluation tools that help libraries update their technology plan as technologies and patron service goals change
- An online "help desk" tool called Event Tracker that is used to report, record, and track technology problems and solutions
What is the ALA-FSU Survey?
It is an internet funding survey developed by Florida State University (FSU) in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA). Data from this survey is used to give national and state policymakers, practitioners, library supporters, researchers, government and private funding organizations and other stakeholders a better understanding of the issues and needs that libraries face as they provide public computer and Internet access services and resources to their patrons. It is a grant requirement for participants to complete this survey.
What is the timetable for this survey?
The 2009 ALA-FSU survey will arrive in libraries in early September 2009. The survey, which will be completed online by participating libraries, will be due in early November 2009. More specific information regarding the URL and the exact completion will be posted in the late summer.
Whom do I contact if I have questions about Phase II of the Opportunity Online Grant?
With the exception of Nassau, Westchester, and Nioga Library Systems, all Library Systems in New York State are assisting their member libraries' participation in this grant. Mary Ann Stiefvater, grant coordinator, is working directly with all the library systems, with the Nassau, Westchester and Nioga participating libraries and all other libraries. Linda Todd is the NY State Opportunity Online Grant program supervisor. Complete contact information for both Linda and Mary Ann is as follows:
Mary Linda Todd
Division of Library Development
New York State Education Department
Cultural Education Center 10B41
Albany, New York 12230
Phone: 518-486-4858 vm; /518-474-7890
Mary Ann Stiefvater
Division of Library Development
New York State Education Department
Opportunity Online Grant Coordinator
Cell phone: 315-794-5122
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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