Funds for Learning E-rate Guides took a trip to Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System to celebrate some of the milestones reached with the help of the E-rate program. In 1999, The Library System began participating in the E-rate program; and since then, the Library System has received over $5M in E-rate disbursements. Over 20 years in the E-rate program and $5M spent, the Library System has worked hard to help connect the community, close the digital divide, and transform patrons’ lives.
The OKC Metropolitan Library system aims to serve the community with over 19 branches planted around the metropolitan area. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the system found ways to connect the community by opening a 24/7 kiosk where patrons can check-out and return books while socially distancing. Additionally, Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks are available for check out on a first-come first-served basis. The mission of the system reads as ‘Connecting our diverse communities with resources and experiences to educate and enrich lives.’
The E-rate program has helped patrons across the metropolitan area connect to the internet and close the technology gap. The 2021 E-rate Trends Report shows that 86% of applicants agree that insufficient internet access is significant issue. As the need for bandwidth continues to grow, the Library must scale as well. In 2021, the system introduced a new book sorting machine that can serve thousands of patrons in the community per month. This change will put more time into the hands of the library staff; therefore, transforming lives.