A quiet woo hoo moment at ALA’s Washington Office

I did not double check, but I think it’s safe to say that most of the last E-rate posts have mentioned somewhere “over the last year” or “about a year ago” or “beginning last summer.” So… Monday, we saw an inkling of the potential payoff for which we have been holding our collective breath for over a year, since the E-rate modernization proceeding began.

On Monday while we were putting the final touches on our reply comments (pdf) to the E-rate Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Chairman Tom Wheeler delivered remarks at the 2014 Education Technology Summit. The Chairman’s remarks clearly articulated what we have been hoping to hear since the adoption of the changes in the July Order and its Wi-Fi focus. For those of you following along closely, you know we have been advocating strongly for increasing the number of libraries that can report scalable, affordable high-capacity broadband to the building. While our strategy evolved in response to the changing dynamics in D.C. as well as through input from the numerous emails and calls and meetings with ALA’s E-rate Task Force and other library organizations, our goal remains unchanged. We know from more than a decade of research that the fundamental barriers libraries face in increasing broadband capacity are availability and affordability.

On Monday, the Chairman clearly articulated that addressing these barriers is the focus of this next phase of the E-rate modernization efforts:

We have updated the program to close the Wi-Fi gap. Next, we must close the Rural Fiber Gap. So, today, I would like to visit about the next steps in the evolution of the E-rate program. In particular I want to talk about two related issues that remain squarely before the Commission as we consider next steps in the E-rate modernization process: 1) closing the Rural Fiber Gap for schools and libraries, and 2) tackling the affordability challenge.

We know that with the majority of libraries still reporting speeds less than 10 Mbps, there is a long way to go before we can report the majority of libraries are closing in on the gigabit goal set by the Commission in July. And, we know that for most libraries the key to getting there is via a fiber connection regardless of locale.

Our comments also stress the “affordability gap” and we call on the Commission to address both simultaneously, knowing that for many libraries fiber (or other technology) may be in the vicinity of the library, but the monthly cost of service is more than the library can afford so the library ends up saying, “no thank you.” Whether it’s a library struggling along at 3 Mbps to provide video conferencing and distance education services in a rural community; an urban library maxing out every day at 3:00 when school lets out and patrons on their own devices or at the library computers are feeling the stress on the library’s network; or a suburban library planning a multi-media lab and holding work skills classes, we know that two thirds of all libraries want to upgrade to higher speeds. The Commission has clearly opened the door to see that these upgrades can be done through the E-rate program—and that the recurring costs are subsequently affordable.

I would say that over the last year (and leading up to this current proceeding from our earlier work related to the National Broadband Plan in 2010) we worked hard to turn the national emphasis on broadband access and adoption in favor of libraries. with regards to E-rate, we repeatedly asked the question, how should the E-rate program look in the 21st century so that it can best meet the needs of 21st century libraries? Ensuring libraries have the broadband capacity they need is one critical way to shape the program.

A long-standing issue for ALA has been to see the program adequately funded. Our comments ask the Commission to take up the funding challenge, knowing that upgrades will both require immediate investment and likely incur greater monthly costs for service. The data gathering by the Commission and by stakeholders (in addition to the careful review of current program spending, fine-tuning of eligible services, and encouraging economies of scale) will work as guide posts for determining future funding needs of the program. Chairman Wheeler clearly opened the funding door as well and we are confident that “right sizing” the fund for the long haul is firmly on the agenda.

All told, I think we are slowly exhaling. In part because we submitted the reply comments well before the midnight deadline, but really because while we have made some subtle gains over the course of the year’s work (and some not so subtle, perhaps), what we heard from the Chairman on Monday can be read as the Commission making good on its commitment to addressing the “to the library” issue.

There is quite a bit of distance between remarks made in a speech and a Commission order, but the Chairman set an agenda for the E-rate review and modernization and to date, has accomplished much of that agenda. Going from rulemaking to order is an example of the art of compromise and we look forward to helping shape the process. In June in Las Vegas, the E-rate stakes were pretty high. This October in D.C. they will be even higher, but before we deal the last hand, we can step back briefly and quietly say “woo hoo.”

Posted in E-Rate, OITP Tagged with: , , ,

Free webinar: Making the election connection

From federal funding to support for school librarians to net neutrality, 2015 will be a critical year for federal policies that impact libraries. We need to be working now to build the political relationships necessary to make sure these decisions benefit our community. Fortunately, the November elections provide a great opportunity to do so.

In a new free webinar hosted by the American Library Association (ALA) and Advocacy Guru Stephanie Vance, leaders will discuss how all types of library supporters can legally engage during an election season, as well as what types of activities will have the most impact. Webinar participants will learn 10 quick and easy tactics, from social media to candidate forums that will help you take action right away. If you want to help protecting our library resources in 2015 and beyond, then this is the session for you. Register now as space is limited.

Webinar: Making the Election Connection
Date: Monday, October 6, 2014
Time: 2:00–2:30 p.m. EDT

The archived webinar will be emailed to District Dispatch subscribers.

Posted in Legislation, OGR Tagged with:

ALA launches educational 3D printing policy campaign

Progress in the Making ReporttThe American Library Association (ALA) today announced the launch of “Progress in the Making,” (pdf) a new educational campaign that will explore the public policy opportunities and challenges of 3D printer adoption by libraries. Today, the association released “Progress in the Making: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Public Policy,” a tip sheet that provides an overview of 3D printing, describes a number of ways libraries are currently using 3D printers, outlines the legal implications of providing the technology, and details ways that libraries can implement simple yet protective 3D printing policies in their own libraries.

“As the percentage of the nation’s libraries helping their patrons create new objects and structures with 3D printers continues to increase, the legal implications for offering the high-tech service in the copyright, patent, design and trade realms continues to grow as well,” said Alan S. Inouye, director of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy. “We have reached a point in the evolution of 3D printing services where libraries need to consider developing user policies that support the library mission to make information available to the public. If the library community promotes practices that are smart and encourage creativity, it has a real chance to guide the direction of the public policy that takes shape around 3D printing in the coming years.”

Over the next coming months, ALA will release a white paper and a series of tip sheets that will help the library community better understand and adapt to the growth of 3D printers, specifically as the new technology relates to intellectual property law and individual liberties.

This tip sheet is the product of collaboration between the Public Library Association (PLA), the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and United for Libraries, and coordinated by OITP Information Policy Analyst Charlie Wapner. View the tip sheet (pdf).

Posted in OITP Tagged with: , , , ,

CopyTalk webinar on open licensing

Join us for our next installment of CopyTalk, October 2nd at 2pm Eastern Time. It’s FREE.

In the webinar titled Open Licensing and the Public Domain: Tools and policies to support libraries, scholars, and the public, Timothy will discuss the Creative Commons (CC) licenses and public domain instruments, with a particular focus on how these tools are being used within the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) sector. He’ll also talk about the evolving Open Access movement–including legal and technological challenges to researchers and publishers–and how librarians and copyright experts are helping address these issues. Finally, he’ll discuss the increasing role of institutional policies and funding mandates that are being adopted to support the creation and sharing of content and data in the public commons.

Timothy Vollmer is Public Policy Manager for Creative Commons. He coordinates public policy positions in collaboration with CC staff, international affiliate network, and a broad community of copyright experts. Timothy helps educate policymakers at all levels and across various disciplines such as education, data, science, culture, and government about copyright licensing, the public domain, and the adoption of open policies. Prior to CC, Timothy worked on information policy issues for the American Library Association in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, School of Information, and helped establish the Open.Michigan initiative.

There is no need to pre-register! Just show up on October 2, at 2pm Eastern http://ala.adobeconnect.com/copyright/

CopyTalk webinars are archived.

 

Posted in Copyright Tagged with: ,

Webinar: Fighting Ebola with information

Photo by Phil Moyer

Photo by Phil Moyer

Recent outbreaks across the globe and in the U.S. have increased public awareness of the potential public health impacts of infectious diseases. As a result, many librarians are assisting their patrons in finding credible information sources on topics such as Ebola, Chikungunya and pandemic influenza.

The American Library Association (ALA) is encouraging librarians to participate in “Fighting Ebola and Infectious Diseases with Information: Resources and Search Skills Can Arm Librarians,” a free webinar that will teach participants how to find and share reliable health information. Librarians from the U.S. National Library of Medicine will host the interactive webinar, which takes place on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, from 2–3:00p.m. Eastern.

Speakers include:

Siobhan Champ-Blackwell
Siobhan Champ-Blackwell is a librarian with the U.S. National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center. She selects material to be added to the NLM disaster medicine grey literature data base and is responsible for the Center’s social media efforts. She has over 10 years of experience in providing training on NLM products and resources.

Elizabeth Norton
Elizabeth Norton is a librarian with the U.S. National Library of Medicine Disaster Information Management Research Center where she has been working to improve online access to disaster health information for the disaster medicine and public health workforce. She has presented on this topic at national and international association meetings and has provided training on disaster health information resources to first responders, educators, and librarians working with the disaster response and public health preparedness communities.

Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern
Register for the free event

If you cannot attend this live session, a recorded archive will be available to view at your convenience. To view past webinars also hosted collaboratively with iPAC, please visit Lib2Gov.org.

Posted in Events, Government Information, OGR, Public Libraries Tagged with: , ,

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