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Maine librarians call for extension of federal Affordable Connectivity Program

In this Feb. 19, 2015 photo, Jeffery Bailey, left, works at a public computer at the Nashville Public Library in Nashville, Tenn.
Mark Humphrey
/
AP file
In this Feb. 19, 2015 photo, Jeffery Bailey, left, works at a public computer at the Nashville Public Library in Nashville, Tenn.

The Maine Library Association is calling on federal lawmakers to extend a nationwide program reducing the cost of internet for more than 90,000 Maine households.

The Affordable Connectivity Program was created as part of the federal infrastructure law passed two years ago, and provides discounts of up to $30 a month for lower-income households. But the program's funding could expire early next year.

Sonya Durney, the president of the Maine Library Association, says that she and other librarians continue to see the need for affordable internet, and have seen many families sit in their cars outside the library in order to access the Wi-Fi inside.

"We see people every day in Maine libraries, who come in, either because they don't have access to the internet at home, or because they don't have the technology needed to get on to the internet, or they don't have the digital literacy skills needed to then navigate what they need to do on the internet, once they get on there," she says. "But it's certainly making a huge difference in people's lives, knowing how everything needs to be done online, now, basically."

Gov. Janet Mills joined several other governors earlier this week in calling for extended funding for the program, which currently serves more than 90,000 Maine households