ALA yesterday filed comments (pdf) with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to a Public Notice on the future of media and information needs of communities in a digital age. In late January 2010 the FCC launched an examination of the current and future issues relating to the ability of the public to have access to vibrant, diverse sources of news and information. The Future of the Media Project will result in a report that assesses the current media landscape, analyzes policy options, and makes policy recommendations to the FCC and other government entities.
ALA’s comments bring attention the rapidly changing news environment and its impact on library collection practices, cost of resources, patron access to digital materials, and purchasing or licensing agreements with content and hardware providers.
Libraries must grapple with how best to continue to provide access to and curate local news and information as non-traditional news sources become more prevalent. It is likely to become more challenging for libraries to determine the appropriate format for varying types of information resources that meets the information needs of their communities.
The comments address specific questions including: how do young people receive educational and informational media content, what roles should libraries and schools play in supporting community information flow, and what are the best examples of government using new media to provide information to the public.
Finally, ALA made several recommendations to the FCC regarding how the Commission’s policies should change to better consider the information needs of communities in the digital age. “The E-rate cap needs to be raised to reflect the need of many libraries for increased broadband capacity and resulting need for upgraded infrastructure that supports higher capacity bandwidth,” said Marijke Visser of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP).” Also, she explained that “ALA strongly encourages the Commission include libraries in any new national initiative to upgrade broadband infrastructure.”
For more information on the FCC’s new initiative visit http://reboot.fcc.gov/futureofmedia/