It is Time to Comment on Your State Digital Equity Act Draft Plans
It is time to shape the Digital Equity Act plan in your state to ensure library projects are fundable from day one. We need to get beyond talking points and into action during the Public Comment period. The EveryLibrary Institute is providing substantial guidance to state libraries, state library associations, systems, and individual libraries on how to evaluate the state draft plans and successfully engage the process.
On July 12th, the EveryLibrary Institute hosted a free webinar, "It is Time to Comment: Ensuring Libraries Are in Your State's Digital Equity Plan," to provide guidance on how to ensure that libraries are included in their state-level Digital Equity Act (DEA) plans. Every state and territory will make their DEA draft plans available for public comment on a tight timeline. We invite you to get informed about the process and get involved in these substantive policy discussions during this critical rules-making period.
Watch the Free Webinar: It's Time to Comment - Ensuring Libraries Are in Your State's Digital Equity Plan
At EveryLibrary, we focus on the Digital Equity Act (DEA) and Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) planning to help maximize funding opportunities for individual libraries and state libraries in these significant federal programs. We want to put libraries at the forefront of every digital equity conversation. In the webinar, EveryLibrary Institute executive director, and Liz Gabbitas, an independent consultant focused on helping library leaders in the digital equity space, help you understand the often complex or opaque process of making Public Comments in order to help ensure libraries' future fundability through DEA and BEAD.
This webinar has six helpful parts:
1. Understand your DEA objectives
Put the library at the front of every digital equity conversation. Regardless of your participation elsewhere in the planning process, you should submit comments. State Draft Plans are released on a rolling basis. Visit the NTIA website to find your state's plan for review.
2. Read (or skim) your state's plan
Start by reviewing the table of contents, the vision, and the implementation section to identify proposed actions. You don't need to read the entire plan but focus on areas where you want to be involved or where the plan assumes your participation.
3. Submit your comments
At the minimum, express your appreciation for how libraries are included in the plan and your willingness to contribute. Be specific about areas you want to be involved in, additional services or projects you'd like to provide, and the type of support you'll need for implementation. Your comments position you as a vital partner in the plan's success.
4. Make yourself invaluable to the plan makers
Submit comments on other plan sections, such as partners and collaborators, asset inventory, and covered populations. Provide valuable data, anecdotes, or relationships that can contribute to the plan's success. Highlight the library programs already addressing digital inclusion and share success stories.
5. Say yes to new opportunities
Offer to take on new programs and responsibilities at libraries that provide essential services to your community. Volunteering and actively participating in the implementation process make you invaluable to the planning efforts.
6. Don't forget the BEAD plan!
In addition to the Digital Equity Plan, review and comment on your state's Broadband, Equity, and Deployment (BEAD) plan. Look for sections related to Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) and how libraries can be connected through BEAD initiatives.
The final question posed in the webinar is "what if state-level and local library stakeholders don't participate in the state DEA planning process?" The EveryLibrary Institute sees skipping the public comment step as a significant risk for the future funding for libraries through DEA. By not providing input, libraries may be seen as passive and will miss the chance to influence the plan. Planning is on a fixed schedule, and changes may be difficult to make later if you haven't participated in the comment period. This webinar and other support from the EveryLibrary Institute are designed to help libraries get their seat at the table and remain engaged in the process.
Join us in shaping digital equity plans for libraries in your state. Together, we can ensure that libraries are integral to the success of digital equity initiatives. If you need help understanding your state's plan or have questions about how to engage in the Public Comment period directly, please get in touch with John Chrastka at [email protected] or Liz Gabbitas at [email protected] (cell 801-949-7694).
Video archive: https://vimeo.com/everylibrary/deacomments2023?share=copy
Worksheet for this webinar: Download PDF
Other EveryLibrary Institute assets for DEA and BEAD engagement:
Reverse Engineering DEA and BEAD Stakeholder Engagement for State Libraries
Getting up to BEAD
Comments to NTIA on State Capacity and Competitive Grants https://www.everylibraryinstitute.org/eli_comments_ntia_dea_2023