Librarians were feeling a little dissed Wednesday (Jan. 29) after the President unveiled an expanded ConnectED initiative to get more high speed broadband to schools and libraries.
The President did mention libraries twice in his speech, according to his prepared text at least, but according to Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association's Washington Office, who was in the audience for the President's speech at a Maryland middle school, the President "failed to recognize the importance of an effective school library program."
That "includes professional development and support for school librarians" said Sheketoff. The White House fact sheet on the initiative did focus on schools and professional development for teachers.
“After school WiFi use in public libraries spikes at 3:01 p.m. when students bring their devices and homework assignments to one of more than 16,000 library locations,” Sheketoff said in a statement released by the association late Wednesday.
A White House spokesperson was not available for comment, but the President did say in his speech that they had "picked up the phone and we started asking some outstanding business leaders to help bring our schools and libraries into the 21st century."
The focus of the announcement was the $750 million in contributions of service and equipment from wireless and computer companies. FCC chair Tom Wheeler, who was a guest of the President at the speech, had already announced another part of the expansion—the FCC's focus of $2 billion in E-rate funds on high-speed service to schools and libraries.