ALA praises passage of Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, inclusion of library broadband funding
For Immediate Release
Communications and Marketing Office
American Library Association
Libraries gain access to gigabit internet service
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Library Association (ALA) today praised the passage of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a bipartisan infrastructure bill, by the U.S. Senate, which would provide critical funding for libraries to expand high-speed broadband service and provide digital skills training to patrons.
ALA President Patty Wong commended Congress for taking action on this legislation. “The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act recognizes libraries as key partners in advancing digital equity. For decades, libraries have filled learning gaps, especially for groups new to the internet or those with additional challenges to feeling confident online, including those from low-income households, older adults and English language learners.
“Technology is only as good as the user is proficient, but connecting communities is at the heart of what libraries do. Beyond providing access to Wi-Fi, hotspots and connected devices, libraries enable new users to adopt technology and build lifelong digital skills.”
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act includes $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act, which calls on states to develop actionable plans to connect individuals lacking access to affordable internet. The legislation would support libraries and other community organizations to help individuals develop the skills and the confidence to put that internet connection to use.
In addition to Digital Equity Act funding, $43.45 billion would be dedicated to broadband deployment at eligible institutions, including libraries, as well as households in unserved and underserved areas and “middle mile” infrastructure. The legislation would ensure access to gigabit broadband service for libraries and other community anchor institutions, a provision ALA has long advocated for.
“ALA urges libraries across the country to prepare for the opportunities that will come to their state,” said Wong. “The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act can help expand our work with high-speed broadband service and digital skills training.
“It will be critical that libraries collaborate with state and local partners to implement this historic expansion of high-speed internet service for libraries and library patrons. Elected officials and leaders across the country understand the value of libraries, and library leaders must continue to work with them to expand the reach and effectiveness of library resources and programming.”
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will next head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
In addition to the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the Senate today also began the process to develop a budget reconciliation package, which is expected to include additional items of infrastructure funding. ALA is urging Congress to include $5 billion for library renovation and construction – equivalent to the Build America’s Libraries Act – in the budget reconciliation package.