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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Redirecting thoughts

In a discussion of FFL's proposal to implement a per-student cap on funding, a colleague said, "Eliminating services from the ESL ... does not help applicants fulfill their need to connect students."  And that got me thinking deep thoughts about eligibility.

In deciding whether something should be eligible, I've always followed the "necessary to transport voice, video or data to classrooms or public areas of a library."  But the quote above has me thinking maybe the rule of thumb should be "necessary to connect students or library patrons to the Internet or PSTN (Publicly Switched Telephone Network)."  At first glance, they look like pretty much the same thing, but there are some important distinctions.  My recent posts about tossing voice service and cell phone service out of the program have pointed out that students never get to use phones, so they shouldn't be funded.  I guess my thinking has been moving this direction for a couple of months.

Evaluating eligibility of services based on their usefulness in connecting a student or library patron would result in some changes in priorities.  Since voice usage almost never involves a student or patron directly, those services should be gone, or at least low priority.  Bandwidth, Internal Connections and Maintenance, on the other hand, are necessary to connect students and patrons.  (Internal Connections and Maintenance are only partially used to access the Internet or PSTN, so they should be partially eligible, or at a lower priority than bandwidth.)  Does your email server only have mailboxes for staff?  Sorry, not eligible.  Your students mostly use the network to print their Word documents or save their PowerPoint presentations to the server?  Sorry, your network is mostly ineligible.

I like it.  Let's redirect the funding at students and patrons, and away from staff.  The net result probably wouldn't be a big change, but it sure would be nice to have administrators at every level given an incentive to focus on students and patrons.

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