Category Archives: Advocacy

ALA denounces recent FCC Lifeline revocations, report retractions

From the ALA Washington Office…

On February 3, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked all of the designations of Lifeline Broadband Providers and ordered the retraction of multiple reports, including the “E-rate Modernization Progress Report” and “Improving the Nation’s Digital Infrastructure.”

ALA is dismayed by these actions to reduce digital opportunity and revise the public record. ALA President Julie Todaro released the following statement.

“The American Library Association (ALA) strenuously objects to recent actions by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). First, the ALA is alarmed by the sudden revocation of the nine Lifeline Broadband Provider designations. Reducing options for Lifeline broadband services is a step back in efforts to close the homework gap and digital divide, and is at odds with Chairman Pai’s stated desire to advance digital empowerment. The 2016 Lifeline modernization order represented a critical milestone in our national commitment to connect low-income Americans to the broadband that powers educational and economic opportunity. ALA and our nation’s 120,000 libraries are committed to advancing digital opportunity for all, and we urge the FCC to increase the number of broadband options available for Lifeline customers.

“The ALA also calls for the FCC to maintain an accurate and complete historical record. While new FCC leadership may have new policy directions, the public record should not be permanently altered. Governmental agencies must be accountable in this regard. We urge the reversal of the retraction decisions and an agreement that the FCC will not order the removal of any other documents from the public record. Such actions undermine the credibility of the FCC and Chairman Pai’s recent move to increase transparency of the Commission’s rulemaking.

“Full and public debate with the accompanying historical record preserved on these foundational internet issues that affect every person in this country should be the standard we expect and demand.”

ACRL Board of Directors Affirms Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Access

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is unwavering in its long-standing commitment to promoting the free exchange of different viewpoints and ensuring privacy and confidentiality in academic libraries. We will continue to advocate for and demand diversity, inclusion, equity, and access in our college and university libraries.

During the 2017 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, the ACRL Board of Directors discussed the transition of power in Washington, D.C. and the responsive protests in support of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, happening in our nation and around the world.

The Board sees this as an opportunity to reaffirm ACRL’s core values – visionary leadership; transformation, new ideas, and global perspectives; exemplary service to members; diversity, integrity, and transparency; continuous learning; responsible stewardship of resources; the values of higher education; intellectual freedom; the ALA Code of Ethics; and the Library Bill of Rights. These values are essential to academic advancement across the institutions we serve in the United States and abroad.

At a time when many colleges and universities are working to highlight the importance of protecting inclusive learning environments, academic libraries have a critical role to play in creating spaces in which diverse and divergent viewpoints can be shared and exchanged. Our professional expertise is anchored in our ability to identify and make credible resources available to our diverse communities. As instructors, we teach students to critically evaluate information and to seek differing perspectives. As professionals, we readily foster intellectual freedom and promote net neutrality and open access.

The recent disappearance of pages from the White House website and attempts to silence scientists and the media are of serious concern to our Association. We hope that all members of ACRL will join us in reaffirming our commitment to support students, faculty, staff, and the public we serve. We are committed to representing many backgrounds and advocating for social justice on campus and in our communities. We oppose actions used to suppress free expression, academic freedom, and intellectual freedom in academe and condemn the use of intimidation, harassment, bans on entry to the United States from Muslim-majority countries, and violence as means with which to squelch free intellectual inquiry and expression. Together our distinct identities and beliefs reflect the richness of our global society.

Action Alert: Support Continued Federal Humanities Funding

The ACRL Board of Directors is dismayed to learn of the news that the new administration is considering eliminating funding for the NEH and other cultural agencies. The Board encourages you to make clear to the President and Members of Congress that you value federal funding for the humanities by taking action now!

One way to take make your voice heard is through the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) action alert. The NHA alert allows you to call and send email from the same interface and contains a sample script for phone calls. Some advocacy points that provide facts about the impact of NEH may be found on the National Humanities Alliance website.

We appreciate your support on this critical issue!

ACRL Comments to NIH on Data Management, Sharing, and Citation

On January 19, 2017, ACRL provided comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Science Policy in response to their request for information on data management and sharing strategies and priorities. The NIH sought public comments in order to consider how digital scientific data generated from NIH-funded research should be managed, and to the fullest extent possible, made publicly available; and, how to set standards for citing shared data and software.

As reflected in previous ACRL support for governmental policies and legislation that facilitate open access and open education, ACRL is fundamentally committed to the open exchange of information to empower individuals and facilitate scientific discovery. In the information provided to NIH, ACRL shared its perspective on high priority data to be shared, the length of time these data should be made available for secondary research purposes, and important features of technical guidance for data and software citation. The ACRL comments concluded, ” scholarly data repositories, which are often within the remit of the University Library, deal with issues of data and software citation on a regular basis. We encourage NIH to reach out to members of this community who have developed practical expertise in these areas, and to consider librarians as active partners in their efforts to implement effective data and software citation. ACRL is happy to work with NIH as a bridge to the academic and research library community, helping to build effective collaborations and partnerships between communities.”

Read more in ACRL’s full comments to NIH.

Network Neutrality in the Cross Hairs

Jointly authored by Larra Clark, Krista Cox and Kara Malenfant.

It is widely reported that network neutrality is one of the most endangered telecommunications policy gains of the past two years. The ALA, ARL and ACRL—with EDUCAUSE and other library and higher education allies—have been on the front lines of this battle with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Congress, and the courts for more than a decade. Here’s an update on where we stand, what might come next, and what the library community may do to mobilize.

What’s at stake: Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular services or websites. Net neutrality is essential for library and educational institutions to carry out our missions and to ensure protection of freedom of speech, educational achievement, research and economic growth. The Internet has become the pre-eminent platform for learning, collaboration, and interaction among students, faculty, library patrons, local communities, and the world.

In February 2015, the FCC adopted Open Internet rules that provided the strongest network neutrality protections we’ve seen, and which are aligned with library and higher education principles for network neutrality and ongoing direct advocacy with FCC and other allies. The rules:

  • Prohibit blocking or degrading access to legal content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices; as well as banning paid prioritization, or favoring some content over other traffic;
  • Apply network neutrality protections to both fixed and mobile broadband, which the library and higher education coalition advocated for in our most recent filings, as well as (unsuccessfully) in response to the 2010 Open Internet Order
  • Allow for reasonable network management while enhancing transparency rules regarding how ISPs are doing this;
  • Create a general Open Internet standard for future ISP conduct; and
  • Re-classify ISPs as Title II “common carriers.”

As anticipated, the decision was quickly challenged in court and in Congress. A broad coalition of network neutrality advocates successfully stymied Congressional efforts to undermine the FCC’s Open Internet Order, and library organizations filed as amici at the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit. In June 2016, the three-judge panel affirmed the FCC’s rules.

What’s the threat: During the presidential campaign, and with more specificity since the election, President-elect Donald Trump and members of his transition team, as well as some Republican members of Congress and the FCC, have made rolling back network neutrality protections a priority for action.

Here’s a sample of what we are reading and hearing these days:

As in the past, attacks on network neutrality may take many different forms, including new legislation, judicial appeal to the Supreme Court, initiating a new rulemaking and/or lack of enforcement by new FCC leadership, or new efforts by ISPs to skirt the rules.

For instance, there may be an effort by some Members of Congress to craft a “compromise” bill that would prohibit blocking and degradation by statute but reverse the FCC’s decision to classify ISPs as Title II common carriers.  We are wary, however, that this so-called compromise may not give the FCC the authority to enforce the statutory rules.

So, now what? As the precise shape of the attacks is still taking form, the library and higher education communities are beginning to connect and engage in planning discussions. We will monitor developments and work with others to mobilize action to ensure Open Internet protections are preserved.

Library advocates can help in several ways:

  • Stay informed via District Dispatch blog (subscribe here) and ARL Policy Notes blog (subscribe here).
  • Sign up for Action Alerts so we can reach you quickly when direct action is needed.
  • Share your stories, blog and engage on social networks about the importance of network neutrality and the need to defend it.

Larra Clark is Deputy Director for the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy and Public Library Association. Krista Cox is ARL Director of Public Policy Initiatives. Kara Malenfant is ACRL Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives.

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