In an op-ed published today, Alan S. Inouye, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy, discussed future directions for E-rate, the federal program that supports technology infrastructure for modern libraries and schools.
The federal government has a proud history in providing and enabling basic infrastructure for the nation that we often take for granted. Americans enjoy travel on land via the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, or in the sky courtesy of the air traffic control system.
From the U.S. Post Office to rural electrification, daily life is immeasurably improved through developments and public investments in this national infrastructure. We are appreciative that leaders in the Executive and Legislative branches had the foresight to make these investments in the nation’s future.
Now we have the opportunity to reinvigorate the E-rate program for the broadband era, propelling libraries to even higher levels of service to America’s communities. Libraries complete education, and jump-start employment and entrepreneurship, for residents throughout the country. In addition, the sufficiently connected library greatly fosters individual empowerment and community engagement.
With this E-rate reform effort, the federal government, in this case the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is presenting us with the opportunity to make the rapid strides in the deployment of high-speed broadband infrastructure essential for libraries to fulfill the promise of The E’s of Libraries™.