ALA encouraged by E-rate momentum

For Immediate Release
Wed, 10/01/2014


Jazzy Wright

Press Officer

Washington Office


WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Tuesday, the American Library Association (ALA) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address the fiber gap facing the majority of the nation’s 16,400 public libraries and the communities they serve. ALA President Courtney Young today released the following statement:

"We are encouraged by the FCC’s commitment to making substantial improvements to the E-rate program and recognizing the vital roles libraries play in connecting our communities to critical online tools and resources. In our comments, we advocate strongly for increasing the number of libraries with scalable, affordable high-capacity broadband to their buildings. Nearly all public libraries now offer free public Wi-Fi access and robust digital content, and usage is growing dramatically. Given that the majority of libraries today report broadband speeds of less than 10 Mbps, we need to immediately increase broadband capacity in libraries before we come close to meeting the gigabit goal set by the FCC.

"We also call on the Commission to address the ‘affordability gap’ plaguing libraries that cannot afford the monthly cost for broadband services. We urge the FCC to consider ways that it can ensure that prices for high-capacity broadband are affordable no matter if it is for a special construction project or recurring costs. Of course, the fund must have sufficient funding to accommodate the proportionally higher cost for services as libraries and schools scale toward the gigabit goal.

"Additionally, we are pleased with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s remarks to close the fiber gap in rural areas of the country and enforce the lowest corresponding price for E-rate services. We are encouraged that the FCC Chairman is highlighting the fiber gap and is looking for ways to address this inequity. All of our nation’s libraries depend on affordable, scalable, high-capacity broadband in order to complete Education, jump-start Employment and Entrepreneurship, and foster individual Empowerment and Engagement, or The E’s of Libraries™.

"We appreciate the opportunity to engage with FCC Commissioners and staff and are pleased they are addressing the need to increase the broadband capacity to the library.  We look forward to continuing our engagement at the FCC on behalf of libraries during the next phase of the E-rate modernization process."

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 57,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.