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ALA Supports FCC Digital Literacy Initiative

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released a public notice seeking comments on who or what organizations should be involved in implementing a nationwide Digital Literacy program.  This FCC action is an initial step in implementing Recommendation 9.3 in the National Broadband Plan which calls for the federal government to initiate a Digital Literacy program.  As the National Broadband Plan acknowledges, “Digital literacy is a necessary life skill, much like the ability to read and write.”  Libraries are a critical part of the digital literacy picture and the FCC’s public notice readily acknowledges that “For millions of Americans, libraries have become established institutions where people feel comfortable accessing the Internet.” And, “Libraries are a known place in the community where people may already go to seek help in becoming digitally literate.”  The ALA appreciates the FCC’s recognition that libraries are essential institutions in addressing digital literacy needs.

The details of implementing a digital literacy program are now being debated and seeking input on these details is very much part of the FCC’s public notice.  For example on funding for digital literacy, ALA does not support using E-rate funds because the E-rate program is chronically underfunded to meet its current eligible services including Internet access, telecommunication services, and internal connections.  Neither does ALA support administering a digital literacy program through the E-rate program regardless of the funding source.  The ALA’s Washington Office is now reviewing the FCC’s public notice and will submit formal comments once the review is completed.

The ALA looks forward to working with the FCC, schools and other community anchor institutions to ensure the success of any digital literacy program.

Bob Bocher
OITP Fellow

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Marijke Visser

Marijke Visser is the associate director and senior policy advocate at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. She is involved in all stages of Libraries Ready to Code, E-rate, and Connect Home projects. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Peace and Global Studies/Sociology and Anthropology from Earlham College in Indiana. Before joining the ALA in 2009, Marijke earned her master’s in Library and Information Science from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.

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