Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order to update the definition of “library” to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive support from the agency’s E-Rate program.
The E-Rate program requires, as a condition for participation, that a library be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under the “Library Services and Technology Act” (LSTA). Prior to the 2018 amendment to the LSTA, some Tribal libraries were deemed ineligible by their state library administrative agencies for funding under the LSTA, which had the effect of making them ineligible for E-Rate funding.
The Report and Order adopted by the Commission addresses this barrier to participation in the E-Rate program for so many Tribal libraries. Public Knowledge commends the FCC for moving forward to expand the E-Rate program to ensure more Tribal libraries are eligible to participate in this critical program, furthering our nation’s effort to close the digital divide.
The following can be attributed to Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:
“This vote marks an important step in connecting Tribal people trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide. For far too long, the FCC had in place a rule that presented a barrier to participation by Tribal libraries. Sens. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and Marin Heinrich (D-NM) have raised this issue with the Commission for years to address this barrier. Finally, the FCC is knocking it down. With the outreach commitments both the Office of Native Affairs and Policy and the FCC’s Wireline Bureau are directed to conduct, we hope that Tribal libraries that have been turned away from the E-Rate program now pursue this opportunity to connect their Tribal patrons.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.