Although Rural and Tribal communities have
historically lacked meaningful access to affordable, high speed
broadband Internet services, the digital divide became more apparent
during and post pandemic. Education tools, training, health-care,
job applications, government services, could only be accessed
digitally. It was critical, to provide infrastructure and access to all
Arizonans to stay globally competitive, stay connected, and not to be
left behind. Come and learn about
1. the new order for Small, Rural and Tribal Libraries
2. the Transformational Broadband Infrastructure funding
3. the strategies for the future.
Mary Villegas is the Tribal Library Consultant at the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records.
Mala Muralidharan is the State E-rate Administrator for Public Libraries and works at the State Library of Arizona. Mala has been working on E-rate funding since 2001 (almost since the inception of the funding). In collaboration with the Dept of Education, Mala has worked tirelessly in encouraging better participation in E-rate through training, making it more affordable by working with State Procurement Office on State Master Contracts. Mala also works at the national level, on ALA's E-rate Task force and with SHLB (Schools Health, Libraries Broadband) and with FCC on rules and guidelines affecting E-rate.
Nicole Umayam a Federal Program
Officer for the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration, supporting the State of Arizona in broadband and digital
equity programs from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. Previously,
she worked as the digital inclusion library consultant for the Arizona
State Library, Archives and Public Records and as a project archivist
for various language and cultural preservation efforts.