Webinar archive available: “$2.2 Billion reasons libraries should care about WIOA”

Photo by the Knight Foundation

Photo by the Knight Foundation

On Monday, more than one thousand people participated in the American Library Association’s (ALA) webinar “$2.2 Billion Reasons to Pay Attention to WIOA,” an interactive webinar that focused on ways that public libraries can receive funding for employment skills training and job search assistance from the recently-passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

During the webinar, leaders from the Department of Education and the Department of Labor explored the new federal law. Watch the webinar.

An archive of the webinar is available now:

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allows public libraries to be considered additional One-Stop partners, prohibits federal supervision or control over selection of library resources and authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity. Additionally, the law defines digital literacy skills as a workforce preparation activity.

View slides from the webinar presentation:

Webinar speakers included:

  • Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services
  • Kimberly Vitelli, chief of Division of National Programs, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, team leader, Applied Innovation and Improvement, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education

We are in the process of developing a WIOA Frequently Asked Questions guide for library leaders—we’ll publish the report on the District Dispatch shortly. Subscribe to the District Dispatch, ALA’s policy blog, to be alerted to when additional WIOA information becomes available.

Posted in Government Information, Grants, OGR, Public Libraries, Webinars Tagged with: , , , ,

Fun with Dick and Jane, and Stephen Colbert

Photo by realworldracingphotog

Photo by realworldracingphotog via Flickr

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) issued this letter (pdf) in response to Stephen Colbert’s suggestion that librarians just “make up” data. Enjoy!

Posted in Copyright, OITP Tagged with: , ,

ALA opposes e-book accessibility waiver petition

Water fountain.ALA and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) renewed their opposition to a petition filed by the Coalition of E-book Manufacturers seeking a waiver from complying with disability legislation and regulation (specifically Sections 716 and 717 of the Communications Act as Enacted by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010). Amazon, Kobo, and Sony are the members of the coalition, and they argue that they do not have to make their e-readers’ Advanced Communications Services (ACS) accessible to people with print disabilities.

Why? The coalition argues that because basic e-readers (Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo E-Reader) are primarily used for reading and have only rudimentary ACS, they should be exempt from CVAA accessibility rules. People with disabilities can buy other more expensive e-readers and download apps in order to access content. To ask the Coalition to modify their basic e-readers is a regulatory burden, will raise consumer prices, will ruin the streamlined look of basic e-readers, and inhibit innovation (I suppose for other companies and start-ups that want to make even more advanced inaccessible readers).

The library associations have argued that these basic e-readers do have ACS capability as a co-primary use. In fact, the very companies asking for this waiver market their e-readers as being able to browse the web, for example. The Amazon Webkit that comes with the basic Kindle can “render HyperText Markup Language (HTML) pages, interpret JavaScript code, and apply webpage layout and styles from Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).” The combination of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS demonstrates that this basic e-reader’s browser leaves open a wide array of ACS capability, including mobile versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, to name a few widely popular services.”

We believe denying the Coalition’s petition will not only increase access to ACS, but also increase access to more e-content for more people. As we note in our FCC comments: “Under the current e-reader ACS regime proposed by the Coalition and tentatively adopted by the Commission, disabled persons must pay a ‘device access tax.’ By availing oneself of one of the ‘accessible options’ as suggested by the Coalition, a disabled person would pay at minimum $20 more a device for a Kindle tablet that is heavier and has less battery life than a basic Kindle e-reader.” Surely it is right that everyone ought to be able to buy and use basic e-readers just like everybody has the right to drink from the same water fountain.

This decision will rest on the narrowly question of whether or not ACS is offered, marketed and used as a co-primary purpose in these basic e-readers. We believe the answer to that question is “yes,” and we will continue our advocacy to support more accessible devices for all readers.

Posted in Accessibility, OITP Tagged with: , , , , ,

Policy Revolution! and COSLA in Wyoming: Bountiful in bibliophiles but barren of bears

Jenny Lake, Wyoming

Jenny Lake, Wyoming

I just returned from the Annual Meeting of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), held in Teton Village, Wyo., just down the road from Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. From the moment I left the airport, I knew I was not in D.C. any longer, as there were constant reminders about avoiding animals. There were road signs informing drivers about “moose on the loose;” strong suggestions about hiking in groups and to carry bear spray; and warnings about elk hunting so “please wear bright colors.” In D.C., we only worry about donkeys and elephants engaging in political shenanigans.

Work on our Policy Revolution! Initiative attracted me to the COSLA meeting, to leverage the presence of the state librarians, and also librarians from the mountain states. Our session focused on four aspects of work related to developing a national public policy agenda:

  • From a library leader’s perspective, what are the most important national goals that would advance libraries in the next 5-10 years?
  • From the U.S. President’s perspective, how could libraries and libraries best contribute to the most important national goals, and what national initiatives are needed to realize these contributions?
  • From the many good ideas that we can generate, how can we prioritize among them?
  • What does a national public policy agenda look like? What are its characteristics?
Steamboat

Steamboat

The wide open spaces and rugged individualistic culture of Wyoming, symbolized by Steamboat, reminded me of the vastness of the United States, and great resources and resourcefulness of our people. In this time of library revolution, we need to move beyond our conventional views of the world to figure out how libraries may best serve the nation for decades to come. With the next presidential election just around the corner, and with it the certainty of a new occupant in the White House, it is timely and urgent to develop and coalesce around a common library vision.

One thought on the way home was stimulated by the Wyoming session. What should be the priority for national action? Three possibilities occur to me:

  • Increase direct funding (i.e., show me the money)
  • Effect public policy changes that may or may not directly implicate funding, such as copyright, privacy, licensing regimes, accommodations for people with disabilities, but are changes that can only be achieved at the national level, or at least best addressed at the national level
  • Promote a new vision and positioning for libraries in national conversation (i.e., bully pulpit)

Should a national public policy agenda systematically favor one of these directions?

Teton County Library

Teton County Library

Many thanks to COSLA for hosting us, with particular thanks to Ann Joslin and Tim Cherubini (and his staff). I also appreciated the opportunity to sit in a number of sessions that included generous doses of our long-time friends E-rate, ebooks and digital services. We had a special treat as Wyoming’s senior U.S. Senator, Michael Enzi (R-WY), addressed the group, regaling the audience with his love of reading and libraries.

I had the opportunity for a quick tour around the area. I was impressed with the large, modern Teton County Library (in Jackson), which has good wireless access—yay! After seeing the Grand Tetons and tooling about Jenny Lake, it is gonna be hard to settle back down to the political chaos that is Washington, D.C.

Posted in Grants, OITP Tagged with: , ,

Write an E-rate essay in 1000 words or less

Photo by Kennedy Library via Flickr

Photo by Kennedy Library via Flickr

I was just asked if I could summarize the last year’s worth of E-rate work we have done in the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office. Here’s the challenge: Can I do it in two pages or less? Apparently the answer is yes and this blog post may also be an all-time record for brevity (for which I am not known). So even though the summary and timeline (pdf) is right at two pages (and spiced up with bulleted lists and descriptive headers), you can get the gist of it right now:

Timeline of the E-rate Modernization Proceeding

  • July 2013: The Commission introduces the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).
  • September 2013: Initial comments are due at the Commission.
  • November 2013: Reply comments are due.
  • March 2014: The Commission issues a Public Notice (PN) seeking additional comment.
  • April 2014: PN Initial comments are due April 7, reply comments due April 21.
  • July 2014: The Commission adopts the E-rate Modernization Report and Order and issues a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).
  • September 2014: FNPRM initial comments are due September 15, reply comments due September 30.
  • The Commission is expected to vote on a second Order in November or December 2014.

ALA (Recent) Engagement

In addition to ALA’s comments, we submitted another joint letter to the Commission urging it to address the broadband capacity gap for libraries. The Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL), Organizations Concerned about Rural Education (OCRE), the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), and The Rural School and Community Trust joined ALA and the Public Library Association (PLA) on the letter.

What to Expect and When

Throughout the modernization proceeding, the Commission has made clear that its review of the E-rate program is a multi-phase process. In a speech made on September 29, the Chairman indicated that the next phase of the proceeding must address the “rural fiber gap.” Since that time, the focus at the Commission has been to identify policy changes that would address the barriers that prevent libraries and schools from securing affordable high-capacity broadband. The Commission is also looking at the need to increase the overall size of the fund. The Chairman is advocating that closing the fiber gap is a significant driving factor in determining the need for more funding. He is also looking at related issues such as the lack of competition among service providers—particularly in rural areas—and the lack of affordable broadband when it is available. ALA advocated for action on these three issues (availability, affordability, and increased funding) and is pleased that these issues are squarely before the Commission now.

All indications are that the Commission plans to vote on a second Order during their November open meeting, November 21. What does this mean? The Chairman must circulate a draft Order to the Commissioners October 31. One week before the public meeting, the Commission enters into the Sunshine Period where outside parties other than members of Congress or other federal agencies may not make presentations or otherwise advocate at the Commission. Commission staff, however, may reach out to outside parties to ask questions. During the open meeting the Commission staff present the draft Order, and Commissioners may ask questions and make statements prior to voting to adopt the Order (or not). The Order is made publicly available after the vote if it is adopted. Any rule changes go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Additional information

• Ongoing coverage in the District Dispatch
• ALA E-rate filings to the FCC
• FCC E-rate modernization summary (pdf)
• FCC E-rate modernization fact sheet (pdf)
• Handy collection of major FCC E-rate modernization documents
The rulemaking process at the FCC

Read the E-rate summary and timeline (pdf)

Posted in E-Rate, OITP, Public Libraries, Telecommunications Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Categories

Sign up today!
Advocate for America's libraries!
E-Content: the official blog for ALA's Digital Content Working Group
Complete Copyright: The new copyright guide for k-12 librarians and educators