Orthodox Jewish Groups Exploit E-Rate Library Subsidy Program

Internet Cafes Get Cash. But What Makes Them Libraries?

Ariel Jankelowitz

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 05, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
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“If you want to have a two-class society in this country, those who know and those who do not, then you vote with the senator from Arizona,” Rockefeller said at the time. “You will have people that go online… and do all kinds of things, and they will make 15% more in salaries than people that do not have those abilities, probably 30% more.”

Orthodox defenders of the collegial members’ access to the program say that their institutions, too, should have access to these subsidies. Some of the institutions, however, don’t look much like libraries at all, and seem able to access the E-Rate program because no regulator is taking responsibility for distinguishing libraries from non-libraries in New York City.

What’s clear is that E-Rate, a program designed to bring the benefits of the Internet to underserved communities via their libraries, is bleeding assets. “The program in general is running out of money,” said Riordan, the E-Rate consultant. “Within a few years there won’t be any money for internal connections. In a few more years there won’t be enough money to cover everybody’s… requests for telecommunications and Internet access.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter @joshnathankazis


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