The source for the materials on this page is the Towards Gigabit Libraries Toolkit (TGL) Project . The toolkit was developed by Internet2 and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
What is the Toolkit?
The Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit is a free, open-source technology learning, diagnostic and advocacy tool designed for public and tribal libraries in the US. The toolkit will guide you through a series of questions about your technology environment -- and provide you with all the information you need to answer the questions.
The toolkit is an excellent way to diagnose and fix library technology problems. Some libraries have found it especially useful in preparing for E-rate requests, budget cycles, and even in helping open up lines of communication between library staff and tech workers! Finally, in libraries with high staff turnover, copies of this inventory could be very helpful to future library staff.
While it's best to do the toolkit with someone with IT experience, the toolkit was designed to be used by non-techie staff. If you need help and can block out some time for a phone call or web conference, drop me a line and we can set up a call.
The toolkit is divided into 10 sections covering 60 pages. It also has a handy glossary section at the end for quick lookups of technical terms.
The toolkit is designed to address the most common technology issues in libraries, so it does cover a lot of ground. Feel free to complete the sections that are the most important to you and skip the rest. Sections that might be most helpful to your library are:
4. TECHNOLOGY INVENTORY
A. Broadband Connection
B. Network Devices
C. Wired Network and Power
D. Wireless/WiFi Network
E. Computer/End User Devices
5. BROADBAND SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES
6. BROADBAND TECHNOLOGY AND OPERATIONS
7. BROADBAND FUNDING
After you’ve completed the toolkit, you can use another document called the Broadband Improvement Plan to create your own long-term and short-term strategies to improve your technology! It would also help me to help you in the future if you sent me copies of your toolkit and Broadband Improvement Plan.
These are the two official documents to do your inventory and write up your Broadband Improvement Plan.
If your internet connection supports watching YouTube videos, this four minute video is a quick tour of the toolkit.
Whether or not you use the Toolkit (and we hope you do!), there are some useful and quick tools that you can use to estimate your bandwidth needs, measure your bandwidth and get information about your wireless service. Most of these tools (and many others) are available inside the Toolkit.
Your library's need for broadband depends on how many devices (public internet terminals, library owned computers and tablets, patron owned phones, laptops, tablets, etc) and how you want it used (basic web surfing, video streaming, Esports, Minecraft, distance learning, etc). If you're only interested in providing e-mail and basic web surfing, a good rule of thumb is 1 Mbps per connected device. So if you had five library owned computers and five patron owned devices connected to the library network at a time, you'd want a 10 Mbps connection.
For other considerations, either check out the Broadband Connection section of the Toolkit, or click on one of the links below.
Because Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are only responsible for delivering a purchased speed "To the wall of your library", It is best to test the speed when no one else might be using it, perhaps early in the morning before the library opens for the public and before other staff might be using the connection. It is also best to test the connection using a computer connected by an Ethernet cable (i.e. using a wired connection instead of wireless) connected computer, as close to the broadband router as possible.
For more information on checking your speed, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has an instructional video.
Note that the bandwidth or speed of your connection is dependent on many variables, especially depending on the type of technology being used. Distance from the “last mile” broadband facilities is the most important. The further away, speeds decrease.
The speed of your connection can also be impacted by your “middle mile” provider that works with your “last mile” broadband service provider. For more information on what can impact your broadband speed, please see a great article from the United Kingdom.
Now that you have an idea of how to test and what might affect your speed, here are two speed test tools suggested by the TGL toolkit:
These software tools can scan the immediate area for WiFi networks and provide information such as signal strength. Useful for finding WiFi blind spots in the the library, as well as possible sources for interference. For more on wireless networks, see section 4D, Wireless Network and Power of the Toolkit or see our guide Customizing Your Wireless Network.