The Los Angeles County Library has been awarded a $3.3 million software grant from Microsoft as part of a Digital Alliance agreement.
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 three years to access information online, work on professional or recreational projects, conduct research, and complete homework assignments.
Many communities are highly dependent on these computers, along with the free internet access and wi-fi offered at libraries.
The grant will allow LA County Library to complete a system-wide software refresh to upgrade its operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10, within the next year. 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The Library will also be replacing many outdated computers with newer models and adding more RAM to slower machines, for a better computer user experience across all locations.
“We consistently strive to provide the latest in technology for our diverse customer base, and this most recent upgrade is an exciting step forward for LA County Library and our customers,” said Library Director Skye Patrick.
“This grant from Microsoft will allow us to upgrade over 2,200 public computers at our 87 Library locations, no small feat for an organization our size, so I want to acknowledge Microsoft for the monumental part they play in making this possible,” he said.
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 Certification.
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 certification 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 accustomed to using Windows 10 at home or at schools.
Ali Powell, General Manager, Southwest Region, Microsoft Corp. said, “LA County Library serves a community of people that can have great impact on society, so we want to ensure that the Library team is empowered to provide the best education training and curriculum. Our collaboration with LA County Library will build a crucial piece in leveling the playing field for communities that often feel left behind.”
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, 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 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.
About LA County Library
Founded in 1912, LA County Library is one of the largest and most innovative library systems in the US. It offers free public resources including books, music, multimedia materials, computer and internet access, and educational and recreational services to 3.4 million residents through its 87 libraries and mobile fleet of 18 vehicles, including three bookmobiles, 10 MakMo maker mobiles, and five Reading Machines. LA County Library is dedicated to reducing barriers and increasing access to and equity of public services for all. To learn more, visit LACountyLibrary.org and follow @LACountyLibrary on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.