Santa Clarita Public Library internet 10-times faster, thanks to state grant

Patrons of the Valencia Library utilize the new high-capacity 3,800-mile fiber optic network operated by CENIC to browse the internet. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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High-speed internet at all Santa Clarita public library branches just got faster — 10-times faster, to be exact.

The city announced via a news release Tuesday that high-speed broadband connection has hiked from 100 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabit), thanks to an upgrade made possible through a grant from the State of California and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California.

“This upgrade is going to help our customers immensely,” City Librarian Shannon Vonnegut said in a prepared statement. “Our computers are used by our visitors to apply for jobs, conduct school research, find information and connect with the world. It’s crucial that we provide both reliable and high-speed access to information resources our customers need so they can be successful in their goals.”

Across all branches, the libraries see an average of about 8,000 hours per month of computer usage, she added.

Santa Clarita did not have significant issues prior to the update but broadband speeds usually slowed down during the afternoon hours when visitor hours peak, Vonnegut said Wednesday.

“One observation I made was that when people used them at Newhall (Library), people who were watching videos or online classes no longer experienced buffering or lag time. We have people that come in and do Skype interviews and they’ll also notice a difference,” she said.

Besides improving everyday internet use, libraries are already thinking about introducing services and programs that they could not provide with slower broadband connections. Among those include live-streaming programs such as storytime —  in case a child is sick, parents can still participate with their children from home. Virtual reality plays and other interactive programs may soon be in the works, said Vonnegut.

All branches are connected to California Research and Education Network, a high-capacity 3,800-mile fiber optic network operated by CENIC.

Santa Clarita libraries are the second local libraries to receive the upgrade from the grant program. The first was College of the Canyons. The goal behind offering the grants is to provide broadband for schools and libraries across the state, said Beverly Schwartzberg, library programs consultant at the State Library.

“There is so much potential in high-speed broadband,” she said. “It makes it possible for libraries to do all kinds of cool things like 3D printing and coding.”

The state grant also covered hardware costs and savings of 93 percent on monthly services when federal discount rates apply are anticipated, the city said in the release.

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