Brewton and Atmore libraries join in supercomputer project

State grant monies provide broadband expansion to state libraries

Thanks to funds appropriated by the Alabama Legislature, the Brewton Public Library and the Atmore Public Library have partnered with the Alabama Supercomputer Authority to expand broadband internet services within the two facilities and expand access to the parking lots of both libraries.

Walter Overby, chief executive officer, and Cary Hill, education and outreach director of the authority, met with city leaders and library staffs at both libraries Monday to explain the computer upgrade.

Hill thanked State Sen. Greg Albritton and State Rep. Alan Baker for their support in getting the funds allocated to help upgrade the broadband service to libraries across the state.

Currently, the Flomaton Public Library has opted out of the program.

"The public library in each town is a huge deal," Hill said Monday in Brewton. "It's a big deal."

With about $3 million allocated from the Alabama Education Trust Fund, the Alabama Supercomputer Authority has upgraded 176 public libraries.

Hill noted the broadband expansion wouldn't have been possible without the support of Baker and Albritton.

Overby said the supercomputer concept was actually originated by Gov. George Wallace and the authority has done supercomputer upgrades at all the major universities since 1988, when the Alabama Research and Education Network was created.

Huntsville landed the first supercomputer project. In addition to the upgrade the Alabama Supercomputer Authority provides 24 hours a day, seven days a week support. Overby noted that if a problem is detected in Brewton over the weekend, it would be fixed before the library opens on Monday.

Baker said the goal is to expand broadband internet service throughout the state and eliminate hot spots that have little to no access and said libraries are a key part of that process.

Albritton told the Brewton crowd the question is 'how much do we need?' noting "This is the kickoff, not the end."

Albritton said there is a technical disconnect between from north Alabama to south Alabama said said expanding the broadband is essential for economic development and education.

"Education and libraries are tied together," Albritton said. "We'll try to move forward from here."

Overby said under the partnership, the Brewton and Atmore libraries will have a larger network with faster and more reliable service.