Guided "Capitol of Light" Virtual Tour for Libraries

To provide more students and residents of Idaho the opportunity to attend a Capitol Tour, the Idaho Legislative Services Office (LSO) and Idaho Public Television (IdahoPTV) produced a Virtual Capitol Tour based on the current tour program that the LSO operates. The tour is given using video teleconferencing equipment purchased with onetime funds provided by the Idaho Commission for Libraries through our Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant.

The tour is designed for a legislator or tour guide to be located in the Capitol building while talking to virtual tour participants about the Capitol. Several video vignettes are used to lead the participants on a tour through the building as if they were there. LSO will schedule your library’s tour and send you a laptop for the video teleconference connection. IdahoPTV will coordinate a test call and connection for the day of the event. LSO staff will act as a tour guide or be a joint tour guide if a legislator is present. The tour is a minimum of 1 hour but can go longer.

Idaho BTOP highlighted in ALA report

See some highlights of the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) project in the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy’s report, “U.S. Public Libraries and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.”


Broadband Adoption Toolkit

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released its Broadband Adoption Toolkit recently, a document aimed at sharing best practices developed from broadband adoption and digital literacy projects funded by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The Toolkit gives practical ideas and tools for overcoming barriers to getting more Americans online access. Find the toolkit (23 MB) at  Page 44 highlights ICfL’s partnership with the Idaho Office for
Refugees to spread the word about program services. 

New online resources:

Resources for Idaho Citizens The new “Resources for Idaho Citizens” online portal connects Idahoans with web-based media and government resources and offers a new, Idaho-based digital media literacy training course.
  • The free, self-paced course called Media online @ your library ( provides quick lessons on effective Internet searching, finding and verifying news online, and using social media and blogs more effectively. The course can be completed in a few hours from a library computer or from home.
  • The portal also provides users with access to the following critical Idaho online resources from Idaho Public Television:
    - Idaho in Session: Legislature Live—comprehensive, live audio and video broadcast of Idaho’s legislative proceedings.
    - Idaho in Session: Judiciary Live —*NEW* live streaming of Idaho Supreme Court oral arguments in Boise.
    - Idaho Statehouse Tour with video, photos, and tons of background information.
  • Other links on the portal include:
    - Idaho Court Assistance Office and Self-Help Center
    - Transparent Idaho, from the Idaho State Comptroller, shows where money comes from/goes to
    - e-government pages
    - [STACKS], the digital repository of public information published by the State of Idaho

Social Media Kit

Do-it-yourself social media kit for libraries: meant to serve as the foundation by which libraries or
organizations author their policies regarding social media—the specifics of which
will be unique to individual situations. Intended to be a starting point for
self-discovery—best practices, hints, and how-to’s are outlined. A library’s final
policies will be the result of its hands-on experimentation and the dynamics of
its particular resources and market.

Advocacy Tools

The Idaho Commission for Libraries is collecting resources for library staff and trustees to create an advocacy plan.  These include:

Fall 2012 Update

The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant ends in December 2012. But, Idahoans will continue to reap the benefits from this project as the Commission intensifies efforts to foster digital literacy by building library users’ Internet and computer skills, helping them use available online resources, and educating them in the safe and ethical use of technology.

New and enhanced online resources

Scout Video Collections: We continue to enhance Scout Video Collections through our partnership with Idaho Public Television (Idaho PTV). Recently added was Scout Dialogue: Writers—interviews with authors, playwrights, and journalists about the craft of writing and the examination of individual works. Scout Dialogue: Writers is available at
LearningExpress Library: BTOP funds will support our LearningExpress Library (LEL) subscription through October 2013. New content has been added to LEL. In the Jobs & Careers Learning Center of LearningExpress Library, you will now find Practice Exams for the Certified Medical Assistant exam and Practice Tests for the NCLEX-RN exam.
Next Avenue: The Commission partnered with IdahoPTV to bring Next Avenue to Idahoans between the ages of 50-65. At, Next Avenue is a gathering room for mid-life adults to come together and explore an array of informative and entertaining content. The website offers articles and blog posts from top experts, videos, and tips on topics such as money and security, living and learning, caregiving, work and purpose, and health and well-being.
Media online @ your library: Media online @ your library is both an online and DVD guide on using the Internet to connect with Idaho news and media. Users can build Internet skills and learn to use the Internet to be alert consumers of news and information. See

Digital literacy training and resources

To help build digital proficiency throughout the state we:
  • expanded the Department of Labor’s Idaho Youth Corps digital literacy coach program for summer 2012 to include both BTOP connectivity and non-connectivity libraries, with 29 youth participating in 27 libraries.
  • egan working with the Idaho Office for Refugees to train over a dozen refugees to coach their peers one-on-one in digital literacy and computer use in Nepali, Kayan, Arabic, French, Somali, and several other languages.
  • added to the digital literacy resources at
  • sent a 14 book digital literacy collection to the 60 public library jurisdictions that requested them.
  • introduced a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) component to the Every Child Ready to Read workshops in three locations with 27 libraries participating. The libraries are now prepared to conduct workshops for families. Families who attend the workshops will receive an Internet-linked Encyclopedia of Science book and a flash drive filled with valuable preschool STEM activities, digital literacy information, and online resources.
  • held digital literacy trainings for library trustees via video teleconference (VTC). To date there have been 57 participants attending at 10 locations throughout the state. VTC trainings are being followed up with face-to-face sessions.
  • developed Kids Quest, an online scavenger hunt, to drive students to online resources and to their public library.


June 2012 update

The Commission has identified several essential activities to expand under our Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant and we have approval from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to extend the project timeline to mid-December 2012. Activities during the last 6 months of the project include the following:

  • digital literacy training for new target audiences and new online media modules,
  • more public information about and promotion of “online @ your library,”
  • enhancing online resources, including renewal of our LearningExpress Library subscription through October 2013,
  • efforts to sustain public access computing in public libraries with internal network upgrades and guides, bandwidth support, and expanded Wi-Fi, and
  • fostering college and career readiness/21st century skills in Idaho, including a summer 2012 summit with libraries and partners that focuses on Internet-accessible resources.

Digital literacy training and resources

Our goals are to build library users’ Internet and computer skills, help library users use the online resources that are available, and educate library users in the safe and ethical use of technology.
In summer 2011, Idaho Youth Corps participants gained experience as digital literacy coaches in 12 public libraries, helping library users use computers and find online job search and training resources. The program has expanded for Summer 2012, with both BTOP connectivity and non-connectivity libraries participating. We are also working with the Idaho Office for Refugees to train refugees to deliver digital literacy training and one-on-one coaching in over a dozen languages.
We continue to add to the digital literacy resources at and we’ve offered a digital literacy collection to public library jurisdictions that includes 14 books addressing software tools, online safety, ebooks, and other basic digital literacy topics. These books will be part of circulating or reference collections for library users.

Online media literacy modules

We are developing an online (and DVD) guide on using the Internet to connect with Idaho news and media, both English and Spanish. The goals are for learners to build Internet and computer skills; use the Internet to be alert consumers of news and information; use “online @ your library” and resources; and use free public access computing resources at the library.

Public information and promotion

We continue to develop and air BTOP TV and radio public service announcements, in English and Spanish, through our partnership with Idaho Public Television (IdahoPTV) and the Idaho Department of Labor. We also use the Web, billboards, and social media, as well as distributing public information materials at conferences, information and workshops, and make presentations to other State agencies and State and National legislators when the opportunities arise.
The Commission will also cultivate awareness of the “online @ your library” project among Idaho Press Club members and establish collaborative relationships with newspapers and broadcasters to publicize public library online services and public access computing.

Enhancing online resources

We continue to enhance Scout Video Collections through our partnership with IdahoPTV. BTOP funds will support our LearningExpress Library subscription through October 2013.

Internal network upgrades, bandwidth support, and expanded Wi-Fi

Opportunities for BTOP connectivity libraries include expanding bandwidth for libraries with connectivity of less than four Mbps; continuing support for six months of bandwidth, July through December 2012 for the 55 libraries; adding more computers and pads; and internal network check-ups, including extending Wi-Fi.
Opportunities being offered to all public libraries include SonicWall firewall and filtering, Wi-Fi for any library that is willing to offer 24/7 beyond the walls, assistance for any public library that wishes to hook directly into Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON), and assistance for any public library that wishes to run an “extension cord” from their local high school to the public library for after hours bandwidth supplement.

Fostering college and career readiness

A "College and Career Ready Summit: Moving Idaho Forward" is in the works for August 16–17, 2012, in Boise, to facilitate discussion and next-steps planning with other community partners to address the student dropout rate in Idaho and ensure that more students are college and career ready. Each type of Idaho library plays various roles to support student learning and help students build 21st century skills of information, communication, and technology literacy. As Idaho educators look to online learning, digital literacy and computer/Internet access for students become even more critical.

Moving forward

To date in the 55 connectivity libraries, broadband connectivity is sustained through local funding (25%) and federal E-Rate support (75%), 530 computers have been installed, Internet connectivity average is 11 Mbps, up from 1.5 Mbps, and there has been a 24% increase in number of users of public access technology and a three-fold increase in the number of visitors to the online resources offered at
Moving forward, as we focus on digital literacy and sustainability, we continue to build on BTOP successes and support Idaho public libraries in their role as anchor institutions in their communities.

Credible Connections workshops

Credible Connections - a networking opportunity for all libraries are being held throughout the state from January 30-March 16, 2012.  These 2-hour networking sessions enable representatives from libraries, Department of Labor, Adult Basic Education, economic development groups and local interested community members to discover the vast array of resources and develop a connection for the next successful partnership to strengthen their communities.
These workshops are an opportunity to raise awareness about existing resources, collaborate to leverage those resources, and discover how broadband connectivity at the library and online resources can make a difference in Idaho communities. Local partners connect and work toward a shared vision of a vibrant and prosperous community.


Scout Video Collections

Scout Video Collections, at is provided by Idaho Public Television for learners of all ages. It offers thousands of multimedia resources as part of the Commission’s Libraries Linking Idaho (LiLI) service. Scout Video Collections includes Scout, Classroom Edition and Scout, Idaho Collection.
Scout, Idaho Collection offers online access to full-length video productions by Idaho Public Television. Users can view programs that celebrate Idaho’s people and places, examine the Gem State's history, and analyze some of the issues it faces today.
In Scout, Classroom Edition Idaho teachers, students age 13 and over, parents, and home-schoolers have immediate access to more than 14,000 research-based instructional resources — including videos, interactive sites, images, audio files, mobile apps, lesson plans, and worksheets curated by PBSLearningMedia.


Online @ your library in the news

Press releases related to the “online @ your library” Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant project include the following:
Connectivity libraries in the news:


BTOP Kick-offs at Connectivity Libraries

Idaho public libraries are holding “online @ your library” Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) celebrations  to showcase their expanded broadband and public access technology.  See photos at
 Events have included:
  • Comments/short speeches from VIPs
  • Open houses
  • Ribbon cuttings (or “lighting up”)
  • Demonstrations of the new resources
  • Display of online resource-themed library books
  • Balloons
  • online games
  • refreshments
  • online guest book (provided by ICfL...guests who fill it in will be entered in a drawing for iPods)
  • online @ your library give-aways
  • posters or comments about how much the library’s computing capacity has increased (broadband and available workstations or checkout laptops)
 BTOP kick-offs around the state include:
  • DeMary Memorial, Rupert: July 1, 2011 
  • Burley Public: September 1, 2011 
  • Aberdeen District: September 12, 2011 
  • Oakley District: September 17, 2011 
  • Lemhi County District (Leadore Community Branch): September 20, 2011 
  • East Bonner County District, Sandpoint: September 22, 2011 
  • Twin Falls Public Library: October 1,  2011
  • Mountain Home Public: October 12, 2011
  • West Bonner District, Blanchard Branch: October 25, 2011
  • Clearwater Memorial, Orofino: October 28, 2011
  • West Bonner District, Priest River Branch: November 1, 2011
  • Camas CountyDistrict, Fairfield: November 9, 2011
  • Bruneau Valley District: November 16, 2011
  • Buhl Public: November 29, 2011
  • Clearwater District, Weippe: December 3, 2011
  • Priest Lake District: December 10, 2011
  • Garden City Public Library: February 16, 2012
  • Larsen-Sant /Franklin District Library, Preston: February 29, 2012
  • Eastern Owyhee County District Library, Grand View: March 22, 2012
  • Benewah County Tri-Community Branch, Fernwood: March 24, 2012
  • Benewah County Library District, TensedDeSmet: June 7, 2012



BTOP public service announcements

One of our primary BTOP partners, Idaho Public Television, has created several public service announcements (PSAs) to let Idahoans know about the resources that are available to them through the broadband grant. Idaho PTV is airing these PSAs around the state.
Idaho Public Television was recently on-site at some of the libraries during BTOP kick-offs to  capture footage for a new round of public service announcements. The camera crews filmed library users using the new computers and asked them to complete the following: “The library is my connection to….” The participants were good sports about doing what was asked of them and were excited about this new round of public service announcements.
Check out the following PSAs on youtube:

online @ your library update

The Idaho Commission for Libraries is expanding broadband and public computing capacity in 55 of Idaho’s least connected public libraries through our “online @ your library” Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The BTOP project is also expanding online resources statewide for K-12 students, jobseekers, and adult learners.

Expanded broadband

The Commission matched individual BTOP libraries with the lowest-cost providers for broadband Internet service in their particular communities. In addition, up to 90 percent of the Internet bill for the libraries will be paid by the FCC E-Rate Universal Service Fund. Most of the libraries are also getting wi-fi equipment that will enable library patrons who bring their own computers to the library to access the Internet.  
Nearly a dozen of the BTOP libraries are up and running with their expanded broadband. Libraries are also beginning  to receive new computers and laptops.

Online resources

LearningExpress Library has been well-used since the BTOP-funded statewide subscription became available in November 2010. At libraries throughout the state, jobseekers and students are using LearningExpress Library courses for reading, writing, math, and computer skills; study guides for academic tests such as the GED and SAT; and a wide array of career certification preparation and practice exams.
Statewide online resources coming in summer 2011 include “Scout” (a version of Teachers’ Domain customized for Idaho students) and Internet2 resources for libraries.  Like LearningExpress Library, these resources will be available through the LiLI portal at

Library and partner training

Training is a key component in the “online @ your library” project, and staff members from BTOP libraries completed E-Rate training as well as training for newly available online resources.
BTOP libraries also are participating in “Connecting Resources & Partners Workshops” held throughout Idaho this spring. These workshops connect BTOP libraries with their local grant partners—such as the Idaho Department of Labor and Adult Basic Education—and provide hands-on access to the various resources available to all Idaho residents through the BTOP project.


In late May, BTOP libraries will receive a kit with “online @ your library” materials to promote the availability of the expanded broadband and resources. In addition, all public libraries will receive table-top displays to place near their public access computers to show computer users where to find valuable online resources.
One of our BTOP partners, Idaho Public Television, is already airing television spots promoting the new resources available to Idaho residents at 

End-user training

In the works for this summer are “digital literacy” coaches for computer users at the BTOP libraries. The Idaho Department of Labor field offices are matching Youth Corps participants with BTOP libraries. The Youth Corps participants will work part-time in the public libraries, assisting patrons with basic computer skills and the Learner Web curriculum. Learner Web is an online system of self-paced learning plans designed to increase broadband use among low-income, low-literate, and other vulnerable populations.
The Youth Corps tutors will also help students get online and access the Apangea 2011 Summer Math Splash program. The plan is to provide at least 50 youths with summer jobs. 
The Department of Labor is also leveraging their existing resources for jobseekers to develop an online “Idaho Jobseekers Handbook” that will be available statewide this fall. 


Partnering with other state agencies for the “online @ your library” project benefits not only the Commission and Idaho public libraries, but also the partnering agencies. While the libraries learned about the resources available to their communities, staff at partnering agencies learned what the libraries across the state have to offer and have been “simply amazed” by the discovery.
Partners found workshops and presentations provided by ICfL to be “very professional and informative.” They also appreciate outreach efforts on the part of the Commission to raise awareness about the BTOP project and leverage existing resources within the state. Partners are looking forward to using the information gathered at these sessions to design larger workforce services initiatives.