ALA applauds congressional passage of digital equity funds available to libraries

For Immediate Release
Fri, 11/05/2021


Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy & Advocacy

American Library Association

President Biden expected to sign Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Library Association (ALA) celebrates the final passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a bipartisan infrastructure bill, by the U.S. House of Representatives. Passed by the Senate on August 10, the legislation will provide critical funding for libraries to promote digital equity. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Act to create new federal investments for digital inclusion projects at the national, state and local levels, and libraries of all types will be eligible. Introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and endorsed by ALA in June 2021, the Digital Equity Act prioritizes "activities that seek to provide individuals and communities with the skills, supports, and technologies necessary to take full advantage of a broadband internet connection when they have one." In addition, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also provides $43 billion for broadband deployment, including provisions to promote gigabit service to libraries.

"We appreciate that Congress recognizes libraries are key partners in advancing digital equity," said ALA President Patty Wong. "Libraries are the physical and human infrastructure - the connections, devices, and training - that help to close the digital divide. Broadband infrastructure legislation must address digital equity at the same time as deployment to unserved and underserved areas.

"As these programs are implemented, we urge federal, state, and local partners to collaborate with libraries. To achieve universal broadband access and digital literacy, libraries must be a part of the solution."