By Susan Hildreth
Today the nation marks Digital Learning Day. In events in Washington, D.C., and across the country, we are celebrating opportunities for digital learning to help students prepare for success in college, their careers, and life.
In his remarks today at the Library of Congress, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler noted that the nation’s effort to connect libraries and schools with broadband networks, the E-Rate program, began on this day 18 years ago. He stressed that now, more than ever, libraries have a vital role to play providing students and the public access to digital learning.
He said, “While we talk a lot about the connected school, we cannot overemphasize the crucial role of the connected library.”
I was delighted that Chairman Wheeler not only recognized the importance of libraries for students, but for adults who need Internet connections. He said, “In community after community the library is the only place where students can go after school for free Internet access to complete their assignments.… And during the summer, libraries are the only place for many students to go to continue their online exploration and learning. Libraries are also the only place where tens of millions of adult Americans can get access to the Internet for information on jobs, health care and government services.”
Chairman Wheeler talked about his goals to move quickly to modernize the E-Rate program because it is a great American asset.
As the Chairman noted, “research has found that a majority of American school children go to the public library to do school work and for many of those students, it is the only link to the Net outside of school. That is really important when over 75 percent of K-12 teachers are assigning Internet-required homework.”
This work is critical to our nation especially when 6.9 percent of public libraries still have connectivity speeds lower than 1.5 Mbps and 41.1 percent of public libraries report connection speeds are insufficient to meet patron needs some or all of the time.
You can read Chairman Wheelers remarks at
Thank you Mr. Chairman!