Today, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect America’s students to high-capacity broadband and high-speed wireless. In response, ALA President Maureen Sullivan released the following statement:
ALA is encouraged by President Obama’s announcement of the ConnectED initiative to ensure that libraries and schools have access to robust, affordable high-capacity broadband for many years to come. School and public libraries provide rich opportunities for students to actively engage and collaborate with peers and mentors using increasingly varied technology tools. As the digital revolution continues to unfold, libraries and schools will need substantially more powerful network capabilities. Inadequate bandwidth must not be the weak link in student success.
Like a K12 school, the public library is a multi-user environment. At any given point in the day a library can enable: a student live-chatting with an online tutor for homework help, a parent communicating with his child’s teacher via the online course management system, a high school student taking an Advanced Placement course online, a small class taking an online GED training course, students of all ages participating in real-time distance learning, and a professional completing a recertification course. These are just a few of the Internet-based services the E-rate program helps support in America’s libraries. Virtually all public libraries provide no-fee access to computers and the Internet, including WiFi.
However, the E-rate program already is oversubscribed and currently won’t be able to support the critical technological innovations needed in our libraries and schools. Thus, ALA supports this initiative to ensure that libraries and schools are able to connect students and patrons with next-generation broadband.”