Hardin County Public Library - Technology Training OpportunitiesHardin County, Tennessee
Access to high speed broadband is one of the most significant rural economic development and quality of life drivers across Tennessee. In 2017, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act (TBAA) was signed into law to address the broadband gaps in Tennessee, particularly in the state’s rural areas. This legislation provided much needed funding for the TNECD Broadband Accessibility Grant Program that facilitates broadband access to all Tennesseans and promotes practices that increase deployment and encourage adoption. The program targets services and funding to areas that are unlikely to receive broadband service without grant funding. In addition to funding for the infrastructure grant program, a portion was set aside to address digital literacy and adoption at the community level.
Creating access to high-speed broadband services is the first priority of the infrastructure program. Once local infrastructure is in place, citizens must utilize the service maximize the impact of the broadband investment in a community. TNECD research indicates that less than 50% of Tennesseans who currently have access to broadband subscribe to the service. As the program was launched in 2017, TNECD leaders wanted to ensure that funds distributed through the infrastructure grant program were utilized to their greatest potential, which meant that a program focus must be to encourage digital literacy and adoption. Increasing the digital literacy of a community can also impact its broadband service adoption rates.
TNECD also evaluates broadband infrastructure grant applications on adoption efforts of service providers in the grant service area. Marketing of provider services is a given, but TNECD also scores on whether grant applicants plan to offer low-cost service options, host community events or other engage in other digital literacy efforts to encourage residents in the grant area to participate.
Training Opportunities for the Public
The need to address digital literacy is especially prevalent in the state’s rural and distressed counties like Hardin and surrounding South West Tennessee counties. Through funding administered by TNECD Broadband Initiative, the Training Opportunities to the Public (TOP) grant program enables Tennessee public libraries to offer free computer classes on a variety of subjects ranging from basic computer skills to social media to their communities. Classes are open to the public, and TOP grant funding allows local libraries to hire qualified trainers to provide the best training possible. Additional grant funding is also available for the purchase of computer hardware and software as well as reimbursement for trainer mileage and staffing to keep the library open after hours.
Hardin County Library
The Hardin County Public Library is located in downtown Savannah. The library structure is a 1,000 square foot brick, free standing building built in 2001 with a unique cupola that blends with local historic architectural features. In addition to print and digital resources, the library provides Notary services, Genealogy classes, Preschool story hour, and a Book Club for 4th – 8th graders.
In 2017, library staff requested TOP grant funding to provide technology training at no cost to patrons. The library was fortunate to obtain the services of a retired teacher from the community who provided 12 classes on a variety of topics that included:
- Library resources
- Internet searching
- Office productivity
- Privacy and security
- Social media
The digital literary training was marketed through the local newspaper, In-house flyers and advertised at the front desk. Office Productivity Skills and the Photo Editing classes were the most popular. Participants ranged in age from 35 – 65 years old and were mostly female with a few gentlemen. Based upon the positive community response, the public library plans to continue to provide Office Productivity Skills training in 2019 through its ongoing community programming.
TOP program funding allowed Hardin County public library leaders to provide a range of public digital literacy training and employ a retired teacher to deliver the classes. In 2018, the public response in the community has exceeded program expectations and the public library plans to continue and expand class offerings.
A broad range of age groups participated in the training that improved their knowledge of technology and library resources. The project was successful in expanded the use of digital technology in the community. Feedback from participants was very positive and helped the library develop plans for future training and community outreach. First year results include:
|TOP Classes Completed||12|
|TOP Grant (training expenses)||$600|
|Hardin County Total Project Funding (Includes state and local funding)||$600|
TNECD Broadband Accessibility Program
Access to high speed broadband is one of the most significant economic and quality of life drivers in Tennessee. The TNECD Broadband Accessibility Grant Program facilitates broadband access to all Tennesseans and promotes practices that increase deployment and encourages adoption. The program targets services and funding to areas that are unlikely to receive broadband service without grant funding. The Training Opportunities for People Grant Program provides grant funding opportunities to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve their digital literacy skills and maximize the benefits of broadband. TNECD Broadband Accessibility program services are provided through the Governor’s Rural Task Force and Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017 and 2018.
For more information visit TNECD Community and Rural Development.