ALA sends letter to NTIA asking for additional broadband funding for public computer centers

Contact: Jenni Terry

Press Officer

ALA Washington Office


For Immediate Release

December 29, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) joined by nine other supporters of broadband build-out sent a
letter to Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling today asking the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to substantially increase the amount of funding allocated for the Public Computer Centers (PCC) program in the second round of funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

The groups assert that greater funding for the PCC program will allow public libraries and community colleges to expand their computer and Internet access capabilities for the general public, which is critically important in these times of economic distress. Additionally, greater funding will encourage the purchase of computers and other technology hardware, which will benefit the high-tech sector of the economy and stimulate economic growth, and create jobs in the equipment manufacturing and technology installation industries.

Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said our nation’s public libraries are serving as a critical access point to the Internet for a growing number of Americans and are in dire need of increased funding.

“Eighty-one percent of public libraries say that they do not have sufficient computer capacity to meet the needs of their patrons,” Sheketoff said. “We believe obtaining additional funding through the PCC program would equip libraries to continue meeting the needs of the public.”

George Boggs, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said that community colleges’ computing centers are also experiencing a boon in usage.

“Community colleges are more than just higher education institutions to the areas they serve,” Boggs said.

“They are also access points for essential services that many in their communities would otherwise lack, including broadband Internet. Our institutions are unable to keep up with the huge demand for public computer centers, and more resources are badly needed for this essential aspect of the national broadband strategy.”