Senate E-rate Hearing to Feature Maine State Librarian
July 16, 2013
Director of Library Development
Maine State Librarian (and ALA E-rate Task Force Chair) Linda Lord will be the voice of libraries to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday, July 17 when it holds a hearing on strengthening the E-Rate program and expanding access to the latest digital technology and learning tools in our libraries and schools. The hearing is timed to coincide with the July 19 Open Meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at which Commissioners will consider an E-rate Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM).
"We are pleased Commerce Committee Chair John D. Rockefeller IV invited Linda and ALA to participate in this national forum," said Jeff Kratz, Assistant Director, ALA Office of Government Relations.
E-rate (also known as the Schools and Libraries Universal Service support mechanism) is a critical federal technology funding source for public libraries—providing over $100 million to support library connectivity each year. Eligible libraries and schools apply for and receive discounts for internet access, telecommunications services, and related internal wiring cost. With the help of the E-rate program, 70 percent of libraries now offer internet connection speeds greater than 1.5Mbps, compared with 15 percent a decade ago.
Each year more than $2 in E-rate funds are requested for every $1 available. Thus it is clear that the program needs substantially more funding to address the increasing broadband and other network needs of our libraries and schools.
Cherryfield (Maine) Public Library Co-Director Cara Sawyer said: "We were proud to be the first library in our area to partner with the Smithsonian Museums for Interactive Video Conference Programs. Without our high-speed internet, there is no way we would even have a Tandberg Video Conferencing Device, never mind use it for such fabulous programming. The connection has also allowed us to use our Tandberg to connect with other library programs throughout the state for programs such as Lawyers in Libraries and informational sessions for small business with the IRS. Our little library would not exist in today’s day and age without the support of E-rate, and the internet connection it supports. We have been dubbed 'The Little Library that Could'—but without E-rate…we couldn’t!"
"I’d like to give special thanks to Linda for being such a knowledgeable leader within the E-rate Task Force, and for bringing her years of experience and her advocacy to Washington, D.C., this week," Marijke Visser, associate director, Program on Networks, added.
Committee Hearing (Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT), http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Home
FCC Meeting (Friday, July 19, 2013, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM EDT), http://www.fcc.gov/live
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