URGENT ACTION ALERT: Ask Senators to include rural libraries in FARM bill telecommunications program

Library supporters are asked to IMMEDIATELY contact their respective Senators about supporting an amendment to the FARM bill adding libraries into a rural telecommunications program, Connect America Now (CAN). The Senate proceeds with floor debate on a previously passed House FARM bill (H.R. 2419), on Monday and Tuesday, December 10 and 11.

It is important that every Senate office be contacted ASAP (phone or fax) and asked to support a substitute amendment sponsored by Senator Lugar and others during floor debate. This “library” amendment is also sponsored by Sens. Lautenberg, Menendez, Cardin, Whitehouse, Reed, Hatch, Collins, Domenici, Nelson (FL), McCain, and Sununu. It adds the word “library” to many sections of the CAN provisions in the Farm bill, thus making rural libraries eligible to participate in various parts of the CAN loan and grant programs to promote broadband telecommunications services.

The purpose is to promote and support broadband services to libraries, including “costs relating to the coordination and collaboration among and between libraries on connectivity and universal service initiatives, or the development of multi-library connectivity plans that benefit rural users…”

Previously, schools, distance learning, and telemedicine were eligible for CAN programs, but not libraries. This amendment closes a gap so that libraries serving rural communities are eligible to participate in the CAN initiatives to promote broadband deployment in various ways such as construction, some equipment, etc. The amendment defines connectivity as “the ability to use a range of high-speed digital services or networks.” One example of the language changing various sections is:

“…amended by striking ‘telemedicine services and distance learning’ and inserting telemedicine services, library connectivity, and distance learning…”

ACTION

If your senator is not on the above list of cosponsors: call or fax them ASAP and ask them to support the Lugar “library language in the Connect American Now” provisions of the FARM bill during the pending floor vote. There is no time for U.S. mail to be useful.

If your senator is on the above list of cosponsors: call or fax them to say THANK YOU and tell them you appreciate their ongoing support during floor action.

NOTE TO ADVOCATES

If you are having a hard time phoning or faxing your Senators’ offices in Washington, DC, call one of their state constituent services offices. All numbers and most email addresses are available at www.senate.gov where all senators are listed. If you must call a state/district office, make sure you emphasize the importance of getting the message to your Senator for the current floor debate.

Check on your Senator’s website to see if or how emails might be useful in this short time period. Many senate offices are so backlogged with emails that phone calls or faxes may be the best way to insure immediate delivery of your message.

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About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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