Libraries now have an extraordinary opportunity to upgrade their broadband following the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to modernize the E-rate program and address the broadband capacity gap facing many public libraries. Today, a broad coalition of library associations, which includes the American Library Association (ALA), calls upon libraries to act to convert this policy win in Washington to real benefit for America’s communities. The organizations released a letter (pdf) today updating library leaders on the next phase of E-rate advocacy.
Library coalition members include the American Indian Library Association; the American Library Association; the Association for Rural & Small Libraries; the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums; the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies; the Public Library Association; and the Urban Libraries Council. Now that the 2015 E-rate application window is closed, the library organizations encourage libraries to revisit their plans for 2016 and beyond with the new opportunities in mind.
“Our associations came together during the E-rate modernization proceeding at the Federal Communications Commission to provide a library voice to ensure libraries across the country—tribal, rural, suburban, and urban—have access to affordable high-capacity broadband to the building and robust Wi-Fi within the building,” coalition partners wrote in a letter (pdf) to library leaders. “The Commission opened a door for libraries, and it is in our collective best interest to walk through it and demonstrate the positive impact of the additional $1.5 billion in funding and the opportunity provided by the changes.”
“The additional $1.5. billion in funding translates to hundreds of millions for libraries each year,” said Courtney Young, president of the American Library Association. “The library community worked diligently and collaboratively for nearly two years to advocate on behalf of libraries across the country in connection with the FCC’s E-rate proceeding—but our work is not finished. We must look forward and think of new ways that E-rate can be used to support our broadband network and connectivity goals.”
Library leaders are encouraged to share details with their library associations on their experiences applying for and receiving E-rate funds. Send your comments to Marijke Visser, associate director of the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy, at mvisser[at]alawash[dot]org. Discover library E-rate resources and tools at Got E-rate?. Additionally, follow E-rate news on the District Dispatch.