Beyond the Books

In cities and counties throughout the nation, public libraries have become central hubs in communities for services and information that goes far beyond books. Many individuals rely on their local libraries for access to the internet because they don’t have it at home, and the pandemic has compounded this need as the digital divide has become more exposed and more significantthan ever. In many areas, libraries are still providing “parking lot” wireless for students and others to drive up and safely access critical sites and tools. 

Libraries and E-rate

One way that libraries can expand internet services for patrons is by using federal E-rate program funding to pay for their network infrastructure and WiFi. However, in order for libraries to participate in the program, they have to certify compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which requires filtering to protect children from illegal and harmful content. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a rather complex issue because libraries often aspire to be censor-free zones without restricting access to information. So how do libraries protect children and allow freedom of access to information? 

Network security solutions have come a long way since CIPA rolled out in the early 2000s, and it’s now much simpler to filter when appropriate without restricting access to legitimate sites. Cisco Umbrella is a Secure Internet Gateway that can help libraries do just that. It combines DNS Security with a web proxy and cloud-delivered firewall to provide not only advanced security but flexible control over Internet access. Cisco Umbrella logs and inspects web traffic for full visibility, URL and app controls, and protection against malware. This helps libraries enforce acceptable use policies to comply with CIPA as well as block advanced security threats.

Cisco Umbrella delivers the most secure, reliable and fastest internet experience to 100M+ users daily, and it can help libraries meet their compliance requirements without impacting the user experience.

Another bonus is that Cisco has recently reevaluated the Umbrella security offering – the Cisco Umbrella SIG Essentials Package – and now estimates E-rate eligibility at 33% (rather than 0%), so E-rate funding should be able to offset part of the cost.

Building the Bridge to an Inclusive Future

By powering networks and investing in libraries, we’re working to close the digital divide and power a more inclusive future for all. Learn more about our commitment to education today.

explore how Cisco is transforming education

>> Learn more about E-rate and CIPA compliance for libraries here

>> Join us at ISTE Live 2020

>> Visit the Cisco E-rate Help Desk

>> Discover E-rate eligible solutions for small schools and colleges

next stop - tipping point for digitization of education and campuses


Stacey Arthur

Public Funding Advisor

U.S. Public Funding Office