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SPICEWOOD – The Spicewood Community Library has been testing a new high-speed broadband internet capability over the past few weeks and is making it available for all patrons. In addition, new computers and monitors have been purchased with everything available free to the community.
Internet access is one of the most used library services in the country. The Spicewood Community Library, celebrating its 10th year in operation in July, is participating in the Broadband Initiatives Program, part of the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 and administered by the Rural Utilities Service. The initiative “supports the expansion of broadband service in rural areas through financing and grants which fund projects that provide access to high-speed service and facilitate economic development in locations without sufficient access to such service.”
Getting high-speed Internet to the library involved collaboration with the Marble Falls Independent School District and the Tocker Foundation. The library linked its network with Spicewood Elementary School’s fiber-optic connection to piggy-back access to Marble Falls, where it connects to an internet provider.
“Marble Falls ISD was interested in supporting the project because it allowed the district to add the library as one of its Chromebook Access Points, giving students free internet service throughout the district,” explained Jim Lamar, president of the Friends of Spicewood Community Library.
The funds used to construct the link to the school and purchase necessary hardware needed to make the connection came from a grant from the Tocker Foundation, a philanthropic organization that focuses its support on the needs of small, rural Texas libraries serving populations of 12,000 or fewer.
By using fiber-optic links, the library is now able to offer internet access at speeds up to 70 MB/second. Rural areas of Spicewood have some broadband access but are often limited to 3-6 MB/second. The speed now offered by the library is a dramatic increase in capability of up to 20 times previous service.
Sandi Pinkowski, a Pflugerville teacher and Spicewood resident, has been very happy with the change in speed.
“I’ve used the Spicewood library’s network for a number of months and recently noticed an awesome increase in speed and performance,” she said. “I was about to give up on the library’s internet until this recent change. I can now use the service to prepare for the next school year.”
Spicewood library patrons can access the internet inside the library during operational hours or use the facility’s WiFi in the parking lot at any time.
The library, located 1011 Spur 191 in Spicewood adjacent to the elementary school, opened in July 2010 in a manufactured mobile home on 1½ acres of land donated by Spicewood resident Linda Wall. The donation honored her parents, who were educators. A grant from the Tocker Foundation purchased library furniture in the original building.
In 2011, the Friends of the Spicewood Community Library spearheaded the construction of a new addition to the library, using private donations, fundraising proceeds, and a grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority. A second grant from the Tocker Foundation purchased library shelving, a circulation desk, computer chairs, and conference room furniture.
In 2015, volunteers built a thrift store to help fund daily operations, and the Burnet County Commissioners Court voted to provide support to the library by funding a part-time paid position to staff the library.
Other free services offered to the community include the Lawyer in the Library program in association with Texas RioGrande Legal Aide, an adult book club, free notary public services, and free vision screenings offered by the Spicewood and Highland Lakes Lions’ Club. The conference room is also available for community use.
The library is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays, 2-6 p.m. Thursdays, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, contact the Spicewood Community Library at (830) 693-7892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.