Policy Briefs

Policy Perspectives Reports

  • September 2020: Built by E-Rate - A Case Study of Two Tribally-Owned Fiber Networks and the Role of Libraries in Making It Happen

    Executive Summary | Full Report

    Just over half of Native Americans living on tribal lands have access to high-speed internet service. Tribal libraries and schools in New Mexico joined together to address their connectivity challenges and bring broadband to their respective communities. A key factor facilitating the deployment of the broadband infrastructure is the modernization of the Federal Communications Commission’s E-rate program. Additional factors necessary to successfully plan and execute broadband infrastructure projects include managing collaborations and stakeholder involvement. The library contributions to the networks’ success provide inspiration and a model for overcoming barriers to broadband availability and affordability in tribal and rural communities.

Policy Briefs

Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children's Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later

Policy Brief - Released June 2014

Schools and libraries nationwide are routinely filtering internet content far more than what the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires, according to this report, jointly released by the American Library Association's Washington Office and Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). CIPA requires public libraries and K-12 schools to employ internet filtering software to receive certain federal funding. Schools that over-filter restrict students from learning key digital readiness skills that are vital for the rest of their lives. The report makes several recommendations, including advocating that school and library leaders raise awareness of the negative consequences of over-filtering on K-12 education. Additionally, the report suggests that ALA work with educational groups and associations to develop a toolkit of resources that refocuses filtering and access policies.

Confronting the Future: Strategic Visions for the 21st Century Public Library

Policy Brief - Released June 2011 (en Español)

American libraries will confront formidable challenges during the next few decades of the 21st century. Both the media and technologies they deploy will continue the digital transformation that has already eroded or swept away in years what had lasted for decades or centuries. Nor is the rate of change slowing. The new media and technologies are enabling a steady flow of genre- and usage-changing innovations and institutions drawing on these disruptive changes are competing with the library in its most fundamental roles. Libraries also are challenged by the financial constraints facing the agencies that support them, as well as shifts in the nature and needs of library users. If libraries are to evolve rapidly enough to meet these challenges, they will have to make careful and difficult strategic decisions and persevere in implementing those decisions.

There's an App for That! Libraries and Mobile Technology: An Introduction to Public Policy Considerations

Policy Brief - Released June 2010

This report examines the adoption of mobile technology alters the traditional relationships between libraries and their users and explores the challenges to reader privacy, issues of access to information in the digital age (including content ownership and licensing), digital rights management, and accessibility. Despite these challenges, libraries are embracing the growing capabilities of mobile technology and providing new, innovative services that extend the way libraries serve their existing patrons.

Checking Out the Future: Perspectives from the Library Community on Information Technology and 21st-Century Libraries

Policy Brief - Released February 2010

This report explores how library professionals are recognizing the need to evolve during the digital revolution and are driving adaptations designed to ensure that libraries remain an integral part of our society's commitment to education, equity, and access to information. Checking Out the Future is based on a literature review conducted in 2008-2009 on the future of libraries, primarily of publications from within the library community.

Fiber to the Library: How Public Libraries Can Benefit

Policy Brief - Released September 2009

This report assists libraries in understanding the benefits of fiber optic technology and to suggest strategies they can consider when exploring how to obtain fiber connectivity.