ALA submits comments to FCC on national broadband plan, barriers to adoption

Contact: Jenni Terry

Press Officer

ALA Washington Office


For Immediate Release

December 2, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) today submitted
comments to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding broadband adoption as part of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).

As the FCC develops the NBP, the Commission is looking at societal cost of having a large group of people who do not use the Internet as well as the barriers that prevent people from using it.

The ALA’s comments highlight the unique position of the public library as an institution whose mission is to serve the information needs of the community. The implicit goal of the NBP is not to have the infrastructure in place to provide access to the Internet, but rather to ensure that every individual can benefit from the resources made available by that infrastructure.

The ALA asserts that access to broadband alone does not constitute adoption. The association comments state that three factors must be present to ensure adoption: ease of use, individual comfort with technology, and an ability to find, utilize, and, increasingly, create relevant content.

“Public libraries offer formal, no-fee technology training and point-of-need assistance to anyone who comes into the library,” said Marijke Visser, information technology policy analyst for ALA’s Office for Technology Policy (OITP).

“As more critical resources, such as job applications and government services, are available primarily online, the societal cost of not being able to access these resources increases dramatically. We encourage the FCC to consider the support and teaching libraries provide. It is critical that the FCC includes libraries in the National Broadband Plan in order to ensure that libraries have high-capacity broadband necessary to provide these services.”