For immediate release | January 29, 2014

America’s libraries are rung on ladder of opportunity

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association (ALA), released the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s recent State of the Union address:

“President Obama’s State of the Union speech focused on many themes that form the basis of library services in communities across the country. These include:

  • The need to create and bolster ladders of opportunity;
  • Early learning is one of the best investments we can make in our future; and
  • Connecting students to high-capacity broadband is an immediate priority for supporting 21st Century education.

“All of these are core to the library mission of ensuring equitable access to information, technology, and learning in the Digital Age. It is vital for policy makers at all levels to recognize libraries are part of the solution in achieving our shared vision. Libraries are a critical partner in opening the door to equality in opportunity.

“Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said that we must think about students learning throughout the day, not just during the school day. Our nation’s public and school libraries work together with parents and caregivers to start our children down the path to school readiness from their first storytime and continue learning long after the school bell rings.

“Libraries provide the vital “wrap-around” support that allows learning to happen within and beyond the school day, especially for non-traditional students. Public libraries are the leading providers of public internet access; 77 million people use public library internet access every year. Unfortunately, residential broadband remains out of reach for many people in communities across the country. Libraries are a digital lifeline for millions of people—providing essential access to online job applications and skills training, medical and health information, and e-government services. School, public and higher education libraries ensure that people of all ages have access to the technology, the digital educational resources, and the skills necessary to participate in the collaborative and networked economy of the future.

“Providing all libraries and schools with high-capacity broadband internet connections is a wise investment in the nation’s future; broadband is the essential ingredient that brings all these innovations and applications to life. Senator Jay Rockefeller captured a critical concept when he talked about creating opportunity for students and their communities by providing access to the “transformative power of next-generation broadband and wireless technology.” Libraries are also committed to “expanding the success of the E-rate program.”

“We agree with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler that 'harnessing the power of digital technology is central to improving our education system and our global competitiveness.' The American Library Association and our nation’s librarians look forward to continuing our work with the Commission in its reforms to the E-rate program to ensure everyone is able to succeed and thrive online.”


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.


Jazzy Wright

Press Officer

Washington Office