[Libs-Or] A mad dash to the end (or beginning) as FCC readies for an E-rate vote

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 9 15:35:56 PDT 2014

I am no longer on ALA Council (even missed the last session on Tuesday last
week) and I have not been on the ALA Legislation Committee for this last
year but I am still following legislation issues and I am still the
Legislative Network Coordinator for the Oregon Library Association so I'm
going to keep sending some of these messages out as I find them.


A mad dash to the end (or beginning) as FCC readies for an E-rate vote
Posted on July 8, 2014 by Marijke Visser
Plus a few things we’re likely to know this Friday

Last night, about 40 minutes before the FCC filing system put up its
“closed for business” sign, ALA filed a joint letter
<http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7521371860> with the Association
for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL), the Chief Officers of State Library
Agencies (COSLA), the Public Library Association (PLA), and the Urban
Libraries Council (ULC). The letter supports the proposed E-rate order
(which is currently behind closed doors and under close review at the
Commission in preparation for a vote on Friday). The letter is the result
of extensive thought and negotiation among the library
community—representing the smallest to the largest public libraries—and
speaks to the shared vision that this E-rate order is a critical
opportunity to dramatically improve library connectivity to and within the
library building. Our message to the Commission and stakeholders at large:

We believe that the time to act is now so that changes made today in
Washington, D.C., can take hold immediately in communities across the
country… While our diverse organizations may differ on some of the details
on the best path forward for program improvements, we are in agreement that
to delay this important first step will shortchange our nation’s public
libraries and the communities they serve.

Not only does the joint letter urge the Commission to move forward, it lays
the groundwork for further strong library engagement in what is likely to
be a continued reform process.

ALA filed its formula proposal
<http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7521371721>, over which we have
been stewing, well, for several months if not since last summer when the
concept of a budget for the E-rate program first surfaced. After much input
from ALA’s E-rate task force, network experts, state library staff, and
library directors, among others, we arrived at a square foot model. Basing
Wi-Fi and internal wiring service needs on the library’s square feet is a
metric that can work for all sizes of libraries. It is not dependent on
libraries reporting data that all libraries may not collect the same way
(potentially leading to delays in funding down the road because of
prolonged review by USAC). Libraries know and report their square footage
as part of the data they are required to report to IMLS and therefore the
numbers are publicly available (and easily checked by the Commission and/or

Gathering cost data as well as descriptions of how libraries design and
implement their Wi-Fi networks resulted in a broad range of information
that we distilled down to our proposal of $2.30 per square foot and a floor
of 4000 square feet (or $9,200). Coming up with a refutable, robust, and
reliable formula was a critical part of our advocacy at the Commission.
Their current draft proposal appeared to be inadequate and, after an
invitation from Commission staff to provide a better number, we were
obligated to work a little harder and do a little more modeling (thank
goodness for calculators and colleagues who can use them). We are gratified
that PLA filed <http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7521371800> in
support of the ALA proposal (also at the eleventh hour last night!). ALA is
confident that the Commission hears our voice and is hopeful that the joint
letter, our proposal and the independent support from PLA will help the
Commission decide on a library formula that results in more libraries
receiving more funding for Wi-Fi and internal wiring services.

But wait, what does all this mean…

Well that’s it exactly. Wait. After what has seemed like non-stop meetings,
phone calls, letter drafting, and question answering, the public comment
period is at an end. The Commission is set to vote on the draft order on
Friday (3 more days!). At its open meeting, stakeholders will find out
whether the draft order goes forward meaning that we’ll know

   1. How the $2 billion down payment will be spent and we’ll know how the
   application process and administration of the program will be streamlined;
   2. Which legacy services will be phased out and over what period of
   time, and
   3. What issues related to building broadband capacity “to” the library
   and school the Commission puts on the table to take up in what we hope will
   be the very near term.

In the meantime, I plan to sit on my hands and patiently wait for Friday.


*Diedre Conkling*

*Lincoln County Library DistrictP.O. Box 2027Newport, OR 97365Phone & Fax:
541-265-3066Work email**: **diedre at lincolncolibrarydist.org*
<diedre at lincolncolibrarydist.org>
*Home email: **diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

 “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
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