President Obama unveiled a new initiative called ConnectED to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years, calling on the FCC to modernize and leverage its existing E-Rate program to meet that goal.
The E-rate program allows US libraries to connect to the internet, but is it limited in scope and funding. By expanding the investment in the E-Rate funding program, it will help pay for investments in school and library networks. According to EdTech Magazine, “One of the creators of the E-Rate program, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), said it was time for E-Rate 2.0.”
The ConnectED program, as outlined by Arne Duncan Secretary of Education, should include the development of a network of educational (library) spaces to facilitate the efficient use of the E-rate program. For ConnectED (#ConnectED) to be successful, it should expand beyond a mere connection and examine public access; strategies that enable and empower people to visit, use and do research with the Internet.
Andrew Carnegie believed that the library building should have steps, inspiring people to rise up and enter to learn. He stated, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library.”
The Schools and Libraries program, also known as the E-rate program, makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in America. Congress mandated in 1996 that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) use the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to provide discounted eligible telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections to eligible schools and libraries.
Below is a outline of why the library is an important part of our community. It was developed by the California Library Association – PRToolkit
PUBLIC LIBRARIES ARE PARTNERS FOR VIBRANT AND EDUCATED COMMUNITIES.
They provide a dynamic array of resources, services and programming that help make their communities attractive, vital places for businesses and their employees.
LIBRARIES ARE PLACES OF OPPORTUNITY.
They help people of all ages and backgrounds to lead better, more satisfying lives. Many libraries offer English classes, foreign language collections and other services to help newcomers adjust to life in a new country.
LIBRARIES ARE ESSENTIAL FOR A FREE PEOPLE.
They protect our right to know by providing access to a full spectrum of ideas, resources and services. Admission is free. No questions are asked.
LIBRARIES PRESERVE OUR PAST’ INFORM OUR PRESENT AND INSPIRE OUR FUTURE.
Libraries connect us with books and other materials that help us to learn from the past and prepare for the future. Not just books, but photographs, artifacts, historical documents and other pieces of our heritage that the Internet will never offer.
LIBRARIES SUPPORT LIFELONG LEARNING.
From cradle to grave, libraries provide books, classes and other resources to help us keep learning. “Tuition” is free. All it takes is a library card.
LIBRARIES ARE A GREAT AMERICAN BARGAIN.
Check out a couple of novels and audio books, some picture books for the kids, some CDs and DVDs and the savings quickly add up. Libraries are paid for with less than 2 percent of all public tax dollars and used by almost two-thirds of the population.
LIBRARIES LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD.
Libraries provide resources and services that help people of all incomes learn to read, use computers and develop other skills they need to succeed. A report titled “Toward Equality of Access” from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says “.. .if you can reach a public library, you can reach the Internet.”
LIBRARIES ARE GREAT PLACES FOR KIDS.
Starting with picture books and story-hour and continuing with summer reading and other programs, the library opens the door to learning, imagination and wonder. Kids learn both the thrill and responsibility of owning their own “charge card”¬ one that lets them borrow books, movies, music, games and more.
LIBRARIES SUPPORT A COMMUNITY OF READERS.
Libraries promote a lifelong reading habit starting with story-times for preschoolers and continuing
with special collections and programs for teens. Many libraries offer book discussion groups, presentations by authors and other book-themed programming for children and adults, also literacy classes for adults.