Today the American Library Association (ALA) announced its participation with a new coalition calling for greater rights and opportunity for all in national technology and media policymaking. The ALA joined 16 other organizations in signing onto “Technology Rights and Opportunity” principles advocating for policies that ensure freedom of speech and equality of opportunity for all, while expanding the ability of the internet to drive economic opportunity and education.
“As an association representing libraries, librarians, library professionals and stakeholders, ALA is proud to be part of a large coalition advocating for technology rights and opportunity,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Libraries serve all constituents, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Anyone with a library card in any community in America has access to computers at their library and can get free training to learn how to use them, enabling everyone to access and use the vast amount of information and research available. Nearly every library in the country offers everyone a secure internet connection. This equitable access to technology and training means more equitable access to opportunities – economic and otherwise – for everyone in America.”
An estimated 33 million U.S. households do not use the internet at home, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, and nearly twice that number have low levels of digital readiness. The results also indicated that low-income families, rural residents, African Americans, Latinos and people with disabilities are disproportionately disenfranchised by digital opportunity gaps.
“Libraries are well-positioned to work with everyone in learning about new technologies and how they can be harnessed for improving daily life,” said Todaro. “Decision makers at local, state and federal levels, government agencies and other public and private entities should look to libraries to get our country up to speed technologically in a way that preserves all our civil rights.”
The affiliation with the new working group is one of ALA’s many collaborations with partners in pursuit
of a society with opportunity and fairness for all. As part of this work, ALA recently launched a new series of briefs on national issues in which libraries could be instrumental in making progress. The first three were launched in November:
- Libraries Help and Honor Our Veterans: Employment, Education, and Community Connection
- One Small Business at a Time: Building Entrepreneurial Opportunity in America’s Communities
- America’s Libraries: Powering Broadband Adoption, Access, and Use
Additional briefs will be forthcoming in December and January.