Mr. President: Libraries are rungs on the ladder of opportunity

Photo by Senator Claire McCaskill (via flickr).

Photo by Senator Claire McCaskill (via flickr).

In a statement released today, American Library Association (ALA) President Barbara Stripling connected the dots in her response to President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address. Key themes from the speech that form the basis of library services in communities across the country include:

  • The need to create and bolster ladders of opportunity;
  • Early learning is one of the best investments we can make in our future; and
  • Connecting students to high-capacity broadband is an immediate priority for supporting 21st Century education.

All of these are core to the library mission of ensuring equitable access to information, technology, and learning in the Digital Age,” said Stripling. “It is vital for policy makers at all levels to recognize libraries are part of the solution in achieving our shared vision. Libraries are a critical partner in opening the door to equality in opportunity.” Read more:

“Libraries provide the vital “wrap-around” support that allows learning to happen within and beyond the school day, especially for non-traditional students. Public libraries are the leading providers of public internet access; 77 million people use public library internet access every year. Unfortunately, residential broadband remains out of reach for many people in communities across the country.

Providing all libraries and schools with high-capacity broadband internet connections is a wise investment in the nation’s future; broadband is the essential ingredient that brings all these innovations and applications to life. Senator Jay Rockefeller captured a critical concept when he talked about creating opportunity for students and their communities by providing access to the “transformative power of next-generation broadband and wireless technology.” Libraries are also committed to “expanding the success of the E-rate program.”

“We agree with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler that ‘harnessing the power of digital technology is central to improving our education system and our global competitiveness.’ The American Library Association and our nation’s librarians look forward to continuing our work with the Commission in its reforms to the E-rate program to ensure everyone is able to succeed and thrive online.”

Read the full statement

About Jazzy Wright

Jazzy Wright was a press officer of the American Library Association's Washington Office.

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