Library and Microsoft Form Digital Alliance
$3.3 Million Microsoft Grant Provides Software Upgrade In Addition to Digital Camps and Train-the-Trainer Program
LA County Library has been awarded a $3.3 million software grant from Microsoft as part of a Digital Alliance agreement. The grant will allow the Library to complete a systemwide software refresh to upgrade its operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
Public access computers are one of the most popular services at LA County Library locations. Nearly 1 million customers used a public computer in the past 3 years to access information online, work on professional or recreational projects, conduct research, and complete homework assignments. With the software upgrade, customers will have the ability to utilize Microsoft Office 365, as well as additional tools to search and access information, like the Microsoft Edge browser and Bing search engine. The Library will also be replacing many outdated computers with newer models, and adding more RAM to slower machines, for a better computer user experience across all locations.
In addition to the software grant, Microsoft will host Digital Camps at Lennox Library and Compton Library in fall 2018, which will provide youth ages 11 – 13 the opportunity to receive Microsoft certificates. The Digital Camps will equip youth with 21st century skills, increasing their opportunities for future employment. Microsoft will also provide training to Library staff, providing them with the tools to host classes at an additional 15 LA County Library locations.
The software upgrade and Digital Camps program will support the Library’s iCount equity initiative, which tackles inequity and barriers to access in the community. The accessibility features found in Windows 10, such as the Microsoft Narrator screen reader, and Microsoft Edge’s assistive technologies, will help eliminate barriers to customers with disabilities. The upgrade will also create consistency for customers that are accustomed to using Windows 10, whether it be at home or at schools.
These updates coincide with the internet connectivity and network speed improvement project that LA County Library will begin to implement in fall 2018, through the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate Program. Approximately $5 million was awarded to connect to the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network that serves the vast majority of research and education institutions in the state. CalREN is operated by the non-profit Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), and will deliver faster, more reliable wireless access to library customers.
Installation of new computers, RAM updates, and Windows 10 will begin in fall 2018 with a completion date estimated for Summer 2019.