Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) visited the Sacramento Library's Colonial Heights Branch to see the impact of its technology resources for low-income individuals and families in the South Sacramento area. In Congress, Rep. Matsui has made expanding high speed Internet access to all Americans a top priority.
Community members use the branch's computers to access the Internet and critical information often not available to low-income families without computers. The Colonial Heights library has twenty-one computers for use, and has lent their five laptops more than 2,000 times over the past three months. In 2009, Congresswoman Matsui sent a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) requesting that they prioritize funding for broadband infrastructure made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for essential "anchor institutions" such as libraries and schools. The NTIA responded by prioritizing anchor institutions in their second round of ARRA broadband grants.
"The exceedingly high number of people who come to the Colonial Heights library for free Internet access is a prime example of how important anchor institutions like libraries and schools are, as well as how necessary it is that we continue to work to expand Internet access and bridge the digital divide," said Congresswoman Matsui. "In our digital age, you are at a huge disadvantage if you do not have high speed access to the Internet -- whether in your studies, or your job search. I have seen firsthand how far people travel just to use the Internet here at the library, but, in a country as advanced as our own, it should not always have to be that way."
In June, Congresswoman Matsui reintroduced her Broadband Affordability Act to provide discounted, affordable broadband services to lower-income households. The bill would expand the Universal Service Fund Lifeline Assistance program to offer discounted Internet services to lower-income consumers residing in urban and rural areas.
"Simply put, expanding broadband access is vitally important to the future of our country," added the Congresswoman. "Our country's innovation and global competitiveness depend on a greater number of Americans having access to the Internet."