By Michelle Seeber
U.S. Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) recently confirmed that the Portales Public Library will receive $5,713 in telecommunications discounts to ensure access to technology.
The discounts are part of the E-Rate program that provides libraries discounted Internet and telecommunications services.
Jenny Blaylock, circulation supervisor at the library, said, “We’ve been getting that discount for a few years.
“Generally speaking, to my knowledge, government provides some kind of funding that pays for a large percentage of things, such as phone and Internet service. We have eight computers in our computer lab open to the public, and in the near future we’ll have eight more. They all have Internet access as well as some online databases. That’s the kind of thing that benefits the community with this E-Rate program.”
E-Rate discounts range from 20 to 90 percent of the cost of telecommunications, Internet access and network wiring. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Co. under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission.
Udall said, “The Internet is an important tool that offers us all access to a wealth of resources. This funding will help ensure patrons of the Portales Public Library will be provided access to technology.”
Overall, the fifth year of E-Rate funding will provide more than $2.1 billion in discounts to tens of thousands of schools, with the costs being covered by the Universal Service Fund.
The E-Rate’s first funding priority is for telecommunications service and Internet access, and the second funding priority is for internal connections and wiring at schools and libraries — beginning with the neediest applicants first — until the $2.1 billion fund is exhausted, Udall said.