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Making better use of E-rate discounts
The nation’s public libraries continued their efforts in 2006 to make full use of the federal E-rate funding program, which provides millions of dollars in telecommunications discounts for public libraries each year. The Universal Service Fund for Schools and Libraries Program, as it is formally known, helps public libraries and schools pay for telecommunications service, Internet access and related costs. Public libraries traditionally garner less than 5 percent of the $2.25 billion available annually, due in part to restrictions imposed by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the complexity of the application process.
Supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy has begun an effort to increase public-library participation in the E-rate program. The first activity in this project was a training session for state library E-rate coordinators, held in November, which attracted representatives from 44 states and the District of Columbia . . . nearly half of who were new to the E-rate program.
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