Livingston County Library has been responsible for putting together a partnership that provides Internet access to library patrons and others who live in the region. In 1994, Hicklin gave a speech at the local Rotary Club about the Internet, with little reaction. She was persistent, however, in her efforts to spread the word about the information revolution. Later that year, as others in the community called for access to the Internet, the library sponsored several organizational meetings, which were attended by about 25 people. The local telephone company, Green Hills Telephone Corporation, and seven other rural phone companies collaborated to bring Internet access to northern Missouri (the consortium is called RAIN, Rural Area Information Network). However, their actions were catalyzed by the library director’s leadership and the needs expressed in public meetings arranged by the library.
With the telephone company’s fiber optic service in place, the library staff set up a public access computer for Internet service. A local bank donated a second computer. Green Hills Telephone Corporation gave the library a place on its web server so that the library could mount its own homepage. The homepage provides visibility in the community not only for library services, but also for the telephone company and RAIN. The library offers Internet instruction and a place for residents to try out the Internet for free. Green Hills Telephone Company, through RAIN, provides a commercial Internet access and email service to organizations and individuals in the region. Through partnership, the community is served.
The library also is affiliated with MOREnet (Missouri Research and Education Network), which is a state-supported network serving universities and colleges, elementary and secondary schools, state agencies and organizations, and public libraries. MOREnet’s mission is to stimulate and be a foundation for the development, maintenance, and use of information sharing in Missouri. It fulfills its mission by introducing new communication technologies and educating people about them; maintaining, managing, and operating a statewide network; fostering cooperation among its members; and supporting its members’ education, research, and service missions. Members can be any public or private education institution or library, or any federal, state, or local government agency. The MOREnet consortium enables the Livingston County Library to share resources with the school, state, and university libraries on the system and to take advantage of the licensing arrangements that MOREnet has negotiated with information providers such as EBSCO. MOREnet has provided funding for public libraries to gain access to the Internet through a cost-effective network connection appropriate to the size of the library. Blazing new trails, in 1996 the Missouri legislature has funded MOREnet to coordinate state support of the development of local community information networks.