ALA applauds initiative to support broadband for public housing residents

The American Library Association (ALA) today welcomes President Barack Obama’s announcement of the ConnectHome initiative to expand high-speed broadband to public housing residents. The ALA is proud to be a partner in realizing a shared vision to empower more people to thrive online.

“Librarians know from our work in communities every day that far, far too many Americans currently lack the technology access and skills to participate fully in education, employment and civic life,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “Broadband is essential, and we are so pleased the Obama administration has made home broadband access a priority.

“As part of this initiative, libraries will provide tools and training so that residents can maximize broadband access to advance job skills, complete homework assignments, pursue online learning and certifications, and protect their privacy and security of personal information as they expand their online lives. This is what libraries do every day—catalyze individual opportunity and community progress—and we look forward to expanding our connections with public housing residents to advance their goals.”

The ConnectHome pilot program is launching in 27 cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.  ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to expand high-speed broadband to all Americans and builds on the ConnectED initiative to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in classrooms and libraries over the next five years.

Current data illustrates the urgency of increasing broadband adoption. While 92 percent of households with incomes between $100,000 and $150,000 have broadband service, the adoption rate is only 47 percent for households with income below $25,000. Pew Research Center analysis of American Community Survey data finds that some 5 million households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet service at home. Low-income households – and especially black and Hispanic ones – make up a disproportionate share of that 5 million.

Susan McVey, director of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, will join President Obama in Durant, Okla., later today. “Our nation’s libraries are part of the solution in advancing national priorities like this one—what we call The E’s of Libraries™. With the Expert assistance of library professionals, we help facilitate: Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Empowerment, and Engagement for Everyone, Everywhere.

“In many rural Oklahoma communities like Durant, the library is the only place with high-speed Internet. Broadband access is a vital issue for urban, rural and tribal residents alike.”

Support for the ConnectHome initiative builds on work underway in libraries for decades to create community technology hubs in more than 16,000 locations, as well as reaching beyond library walls with bookmobiles, laptop labs and wireless hot spots to bring more resources and training to more people in more places. To learn more about libraries and digital literacy, visit the District Dispatch or DigitalLearn.org.

About Jazzy Wright

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

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