The FCC has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that calls for the two organizations to work together to promote public awareness of federal funding opportunities for broadband. IMLS is an independent federal government agency.
As the FCC explains in a press release, the MoU calls for the agencies to:
- Share data about participation in the FCC’s E-Rate and Emergency Connectivity Fund programs, IMLS’ grant programs and availability of high-speed broadband services;
- Publicize information about federal broadband funding opportunities and resources available through the Parties’ respective outreach channels;
- Partner on the development of broadband-related outreach materials and events;
- Explore users’ experiences and technical assistance needs related to federal broadband funding opportunities;
- Expand and leverage the use of mobile services and other points of access;
- Connect underserved communities to digital resources and services.
Libraries have been heavily involved in broadband in recent years. Residents who can’t get broadband at home or who can’t afford it often rely on their local libraries for connectivity.
And since the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries have taken on additional roles in support of broadband, including administering the Emergency Connectivity Program, which provides broadband connectivity to library patrons for use in their homes, as well as computers and other devices, for use during the pandemic.
“Working with IMLS to spread the word about [broadband funding] programs will help meet the connectivity needs of communities across the country,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in today’s press release.
The American Library Association (ALA) wasted no time in issuing a statement in support of the FCC and IMLS agreement.
“We are pleased by today’s move by the commission to recognize the role libraries play in bringing digital equity to communities across the country,” said ALA President Patricia Wong.
She added that “we hope that this new relationship between the FCC and IMLS will not only connect more Americans to the internet but connect them to the digital skills needed to use it.”
The FCC and IMLS worked together earlier this year to raise awareness about changes in the E-Rate schools and libraries funding program aimed at ensuring that tribal libraries have access to the program.