American Library Association Promotes Digital Equity During ACP Week of Action and Beyond
For Immediate Release
Deputy Director, Communications
Public Policy & Advocacy Office
American Library Association
ALA national conference kicks off with FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel on June 23
WASHINGTON, DC - With an historic and unwavering commitment to ensuring access to information for all, the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide are proud to advance Online for All with the U.S. Department of Education and Civic Nation. Digital equity and access to information is a prominent theme for the ALA Annual Conference that kicks off in Chicago on June 22.
As part of the ACP Week of Action, ALA and its partners announced new funding and resources for public libraries to increase program awareness, boost enrollment, and expand broadband access and digital literacy in communities of all sizes:
- On June 14, ALA amplified the Week and shared resources for learners and library staff to support ACP enrollment through the Public Library Association’s (PLA) DigitalLearn platform;
- On June 15, ALA and Capital One announced 30 public libraries selected to participate in Community Connect: Fostering Digital Access, a program supporting digital access and financial capability for U.S. rural communities. In coming months, libraries will receive five Verizon Wi-Fi hotspots and five HP laptops to lend to patrons, a $2,000 programming stipend, and professional development opportunities to help library workers assist patrons in establishing affordable and high-speed home internet connections from the national nonprofit EveryoneOn; and
- Powered by a contribution from AT&T, the Public Library Association (PLA) announced on June 20 that it had selected more than 200 public libraries across 45 states to host digital literacy and ACP workshops. The PLA Digital Literacy Workshop Incentives, supported by AT&T support public libraries in their work improving digital skills and promoting broadband adoption among families and communities. The workshops leverage the online digital literacy courses, created by PLA in collaboration with AT&T, that are freely available to anyone through DigitalLearn.org and AT&T ScreenReady.
These national announcements build on and extend work underway in libraries across the nation. The New York Public Library, for instance, started conducting ACP enrollment information sessions in October 2022 as part of its inaugural TechFair. The workshops are conducted online and in person at branches throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the boroughs served by NYPL. As part of the FCC’s ACP Outreach Grant Program, NYPL intends to conduct at least 50 in-person enrollment assistance sessions over two years focusing on high-need communities and will offer workshops in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. NYPL is participating in the Week of Action by offering an ACP workshop today.
Digital equity also is at the forefront of ALA’s forthcoming Annual Conference, which will bring about 15,000 library professionals, exhibitors, advocates, speakers and guests to Chicago, including Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Friday, June 23.
Chairwoman Rosenworcel will share new ways the FCC is partnering with libraries and schools to advance digital equity in communities and highlight the vital role of libraries in ensuring access to information for everyone.
On Saturday, June 24, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Digital Equity Director Angela Thi Bennett will speak as part of the “Leverage Federal Funds to Advance Digital Equity in Your Community Update” at 4 p.m. The panel will discuss the most recent developments in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) broadband programs and share examples of digital equity work underway in several states.
Two other digital equity sessions provide updates related to digital literacy training and the E-rate program:
- Plug Into DigitalLearn: New Programs and Opportunities for Your Library, Saturday, June 24, 1-2 p.m.
- E-rate Innovations: Fostering Access to Underserved Communities, Sunday, June 25, 1 p.m.
To learn more about libraries and digital equity, including resources to support enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program and participate in state digital equity funding programs, please visit https://www.ala.org/advocacy/broadband/digital-equity-resources.