Lack of broadband access within tribal communities, fuels grave concern among nation’s library leaders

For Immediate Release
Fri, 07/31/2020

Contact:

Macey Morales / Shawnda Hines

ALA Media Relations

Communications & Marketing / Public Policy & Advocacy

13122804393

mmorales@ala.org

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m.  CT, American Library Association (ALA) President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., will pay a virtual visit to the Jemez Pueblo Community Library, in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, where he will discuss the dire need for broadband access among tribal communities and the central role libraries can play in connecting diverse populations with high-speed internet access.

This event entitled “The Imperative of Broadband for Tribal Libraries,” is one of the stops on Jefferson’s12-stop virtual tour, Holding Space: A national conversation series with libraries, to spotlight how libraries of all kinds across the country are addressing the needs of their diverse communities and engaging stakeholders to advocate for libraries.

“Roughly one in four rural households cannot connect to the internet, and it is often too slow and too expensive for the households that have access,” said Jefferson. “Affordable, high-speed internet access is critical as library connectivity serves as a lifeline for patrons who need access to digital collections, e-government services, legal information, distance learning, telemedicine, and many other essential community services.”

Residents in tribal communities often lack high-capacity broadband service, inhibiting access to information, education, and work. Visit with tribal librarians, including participants in the Middle Rio Grande Valley Cooperative and Jemez-Zia Pueblo Tribal Consortium. Tribal leaders will discuss innovative approaches to improving broadband infrastructure for their respective communities and successes. This discussion also will focus on needed for additional policies to ensure equitable access to connectivity. Jefferson and members of ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office will share a newly released case study from ALA that features the Middle Rio Grande Valley Cooperative and the central role of libraries in expanding broadband access.

Joining Jefferson are:

  • Arlan Sando, Chief of Jemez Pueblo and Archivist, Jemez Pueblo Community Library and Archives
  • Aaron LaFramboise, Director of Libraries, Blackfeet Community College
  • Sonya Lopez, Field Representative, Office of Congressman Ben Ray Luján
  • Kimball Sekaquaptewa, Santa Fe Indian School
  • Marijke Visser, Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate, Public Policy, American Library Association
  • Maureen Wacondo, Librarian, Jemez Pueblo Community Library and Archives

“Jemez Pueblo Community Library strives to improving lives every day through literacy and lifelong learning,” said Jefferson. “Many of library successes and struggles to secure resources to enhance library services take place in the shadows. Their stories need to be told, their professional organization and local community need to listen, and their elected leaders need to support them.”

Each Holding Space community discussion will explore local and national solutions to local and national issues and feature deep dives into an area of library service, including workforce development programs, children and family services, outreach to rural residents, and broadband for Tribal communities.

Jefferson will also invite tour participants to join ALA advocates, who are currently supporting the Library Stabilization Fund Act to provide federal resources to libraries during the COVID pandemic.

For more information on tour stops and how to join, visit ala.org/advocacy/holding-space.

To speak with ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., or other library leaders/advocates, contact:

  • Shawnda Hines, assistant director, communications, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, at (202) 628-8410 ext. 8208 or shines@alawash.org
  • Macey Morales, deputy director, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-4393 or mmorales@ala.org
  • Steve Zalusky, Communications Specialist, ALA Communications and Marketing Office, at (312) 280-1546 or szalusky@ala.org 

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.