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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks on your libraries, E-rate and calls for improvement

During the ALA Annual Conference that wrapped  up a few weeks ago, the Washington Office secured a video from the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler. We are pleased to share four clips from the video for use in your own advocacy work on the importance of high-capacity broadband and the E-rate program for your libraries and the communities you serve.

“The staff at the FCC is appreciative of the commitment ALA has shown to engaging in the modernization process while also remaining staunch advocates for their members. We hope the Chairman’s message is helpful to all of the work you do on behalf of your libraries,” Gigi Sohn, Special Counsel for External Affairs to Chairman Wheeler told us.

In these videos, the Chairman speaks about the changing nature of libraries today, emphasizing the importance of providing access to digital resources, technology, and free public Wi-Fi. He states

Libraries are where large numbers of Americans go to get online. And it’s not just to research information. Libraries are where Americans go to apply for their VA benefits, or apply for their healthcare benefits, or apply for jobs… Put another way, as I have learned, libraries complete Education, jump start Employment and Entrepreneurship, Empower people of all ages and backgrounds and foster community Engagement–“The 5 E’s of Libraries.

The four clips take listeners through:

  • the critical support libraries provide to their communities–including education for K12 students;
  • the Commission’s commitment to “doing more for libraries;”
  • how the E-rate Modernization proceeding is set to address challenges libraries have in increasing broadband capacity to and within the library; and
  • a specific call on ALA to continue its partnership with the Commission to make the E-rate program work for libraries.

In addition to the short clips, we are pleased to provide the full transcript (pdf) to the Chairman’s remarks during the video for Annual Conference.

ALA has engaged deeply with the Commission on the E-rate proceeding and expects to participate fully in the coming weeks as we move from the order adopted on July 11 (not publicly released as of this writing) into the next phase of this multi-step process. We take heed of the Chairman’s call to action:

So my request to ALA is simple — let’s work together to get this process in motion starting now. Let’s make some meaningful improvements to the program for libraries starting now. And let’s keep working together over the coming months to address those issues we don’t tackle in this order as part of an ongoing process to make the E-rate program work as well as it possibly can for libraries.

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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.


  1. […] process, Marijke helped to strengthen ALA relationships with FCC leaders, as evident by the video message FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, as well […]

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