Executive Project Summary
The New York Public Computer Centers: Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary project will address three problems facing vulnerable populations in upstate New York (low-income, unemployed, underemployed, aged, non-English speakers, seniors, persons with disabilities): 1) Upstate New York’s high unemployment rate and distressed economy; 2) Lack of affordable public access to high-speed broadband services, education, training and technical support, particularly in geographically isolated upstate communities, and 3) The increasing need for New Yorkers to access essential E-government resources and other online resources for work, healthcare, education, and citizenship at the same time the economic downturn is reducing consumer ability to acquire the necessary computer technology and broadband access.
Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary will expand public computer center services to 41 upstate NY counties by deploying an innovative mix of 30 library-based public computer centers and five prototype E-mobile training labs and access to 24/7 online job search resources to provide workforce and digital literacy training. Partner libraries will provide free public access computing services to the general public with a focus on services for the unemployed and underemployed. Computer centers will add workstations and services accessible to persons with disabilities. The New York State Library and partners will purchase online resources and software to help job seekers with resume preparation, test preparation, interviewing, job research, small business startups, and more. The project will also expand public computer center hours of service, improve broadband capacity, provide computer equipment for users, and expand education, training and technical support services. Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary will be easily replicable as all project materials will be freely available on the State Library’s web site.
Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary will serve the residents of 41 upstate counties, with populations totaling 6,655,824 (2008 Census). Based on experience with existing computer centers, partners estimate 12 million potential uses of the 35 static and E-mobile public computer centers over the two years of the project.
Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary will save or create a minimum of 76 jobs, involving 60 jobs (2 per center) for the 30 library-based computer centers; 15 jobs (3 per unit) for the E-mobile units; and 1 evaluator position. This innovative project has the potential to help thousands of New Yorkers find jobs or start new small businesses through extended Public Computer Center hours, dedicated job search resources, printers and software for resume preparation, and online job search software available 24/7 at the library and from remote locations. Fifteen of the partner libraries are already designated NY State Career Resource Centers. With the high unemployment rate in New York (almost 10% as of January 2010), libraries are overwhelmed with unemployed and underemployed job seekers using online resources and seeking expert staff assistance with their job searches. This project will help New York’s libraries respond to the overwhelming demand for public access computing services and online resources.
The overall cost of Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary is $14,939,520 for the two-year project. Costs include $7,221,000 for expanding public computer centers at 30 library locations, $123,000 to hire an independent evaluator who will assess impact, $1,277,150 to create and deploy five E-mobile training labs and $.9 million to license online job search resources available 24/7 to all New Yorkers. The State Library has been awarded $9,521,150 in BTOP Public Computer Centers Program funds and project partners will provide $5,418,370 in cash and in-kind services.
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