Since the E-rate program was established in 1997, the number of public school library media centers (SLMC) with Internet access increased from 14 percent to over 95 percent. While the number SLMC and public libraries that benefitted from the E-rate program has substantially increased, the demand for high-speed Internet access has increased much faster. Recognizing this dilemma, President Barack Obama recently proposed a new initiative, called ConnectED, which will allow the E-rate program to match the increased need for high-speed broadband and wireless Internet access in public libraries and SLMCs. In response, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a radical revamping of the E-rate program, the first since the program was implemented 16 years ago.
The E-rate program, formally referred to as the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, raises funds to be used by public libraries and SLMCs to pay for broadband Internet access. The E-rate program was first established in 1997, when only 14 percent of public school classrooms in the United States had Internet access (Wyatt, 2013). Today, the E-rate program provides 2.3 billion dollars of financial assistance to help more than 95 percent of classrooms connect to the Internet (Wyatt, 2013).
My decision to investigate the E-rate program arose from two recent articles on the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office’s website, District Dispatch: the first reviewed how the federal government shutdown had affected the reply comment deadline for the E-rate program (Wright, 2013d); the second summarized a recent Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition seminar, which took place during the shutdown (Wr...
... middle of paper ...
...r leap forward in E-rate goals; streamlined program. ALAnews. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2013/09/ala-calls-leap-forward-e-rate-goals-streamlined-program
Wright, J. (2013 October 5). Internet in Libraries and Schools is Slow and Outdated. So What’s Next? District Dispatch. Retrieved from http://www.districtdispatch.org/2013/10/internet-libraries-schools-slow-outdated-whats-next/
Wright, J. (2013 October 18). Shutdown aftermath: E-rate filing date postponed. District Dispatch. Retrieved from http://www.districtdispatch.org/2013/10/shutdown-aftermath-e-rate-filing-date-postponed/
Wyatt, E. (2013 July 19). F.C.C. Backs Plan to Update a Fund That Helps Connect Schools to the Internet. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/business/media/fcc-backs-plan-to-update-a-fund-that-helps-connect-schools-to-the-internet.html
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