Alan Inouye

Ellen Satterwhite joins ALA telecom policy team

The American Library Association has bolstered its telecommunications policy team with the addition of Ellen Satterwhite. As a new Fellow of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), Ellen will provide leadership, counsel and representation on the full array of telecommunications issues that affect libraries and the general public, as well as those that intersect with information policy more broadly.

Ellen is a Director at the policy communications firm Glen Echo Group, where she helps clients formulate policy positions and tell their stories within the rubric of information policy. WifiForward is one of several coalitions managed by Ellen and Glen Echo, and ALA was a founding member of the group, which advocates for abundant Wi-fi and balanced spectrum policy. As a co-author of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan, Consumer Policy Advisor to the FCC and freelance consultant, Ellen’s work has been written about in the Huffington Post, AllThingsD, CNet, Geekwire, GigaOm, and CivSource. Previously, Ellen also served as Program Director for Gig.U, supporting communities seeking gigabit speeds. She earned a master’s degree in Public Affairs from University of Texas at Austin and completed her undergraduate degree at Grinnell College. OITP Deputy Director Larra Clark will continue to contribute to our telecommunications policy work, with OITP Associate Director Marijke Visser, OITP Senior Fellow Robert Bocher, and me, working in coordination on legislative matters with Kevin Maher of ALA’s Office of Government Relations, and telecommunications counsel John Windhausen.

Dear RNC and DNC: Libraries are essential to achieving national priorities

July 18, the Republican National Convention (RNC) kicks off in Cleveland (OH), and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) begins next Monday in Philadelphia (PA). In the latest installment of the Policy Revolution! initiative, the American Library Association submitted comments to the Republican and Democratic Party Platform Committees. ALA’s submission is based on a large body of prior work. At the most fundamental level, such comments are informed by internal ALA policies, approved by ALA’s Council. In terms of our work more specifically targeted to the national public policy arena, we completed the National Policy Agenda for Libraries in June 2015 to provide the strategic policy direction for libraries, under the auspices of a Library Advisory Committee that included a number of library community organizations in addition to ALA.

At this point in the process, the primary goal is to showcase how libraries contribute to the broad range of national goals of importance to the major political parties. Given the economic unease around the country, ALA comments highlighted the roles of libraries in advancing economic opportunity. The comments also address several issues that are prominent in the campaigns, such as national infrastructure, veterans, education and learning and others.

The Nobility of E-Rate

[Commentary] In the library community, one of today’s highest profile, exciting national policy topics is modernization of the E-rate program.

We propose three initiatives:

  1. School-library wide area network partnerships. Modify E-rate program rules, eliminate barriers, and provide incentives for schools and libraries to deploy high-capacity broadband in cooperation, rather than in isolation. Where this can occur, significantly improved economies will likely be realized.
  2. Scalable technologies deployment program. Some libraries with poor broadband connectivity are in close proximity to broadband providers that can ensure scalable broadband at affordable initial construction charges and recurring costs after the deployment is complete. We urge the FCC to provide incentives and rule and process changes to encourage these efforts.
  3. Network diagnostics and technical support program. Provide assistance to libraries in planning, purchasing, and implementing network infrastructure and Internet access through state library agencies or in partnership with such agencies.

[Inouye, PhD is Director of the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy in Washington, DC]