May 21, 2022

IMLS Releases New Data Showing More than 90% of Public Libraries Have Used E-rate

From an Institute of Museum and Library Services “Up Next” Blog Post by Carlos Manjarrez, Director of Planning, Research, and Evaluation,and Justin Grimes, Statistician, IMLS:

With more than $36 billion dollars of discounts provided to date, the Universal Service Schools and Libraries Program, commonly known as “E-rate,” helps schools and libraries acquire Internet access and telecommunication products and services at affordable rates.


…a new data-sharing partnership between IMLS and the FCC has made it possible to identify each library connected to an E-rate application. This data, which comes from the Block 4 section of the E-rate Form application, lists all schools and libraries receiving services by name and identification number. We’ve just started digging into this data and will be producing more detailed analysis in the coming months, but we wanted to share some quick stats from our initial investigation. For this blog post we focused on 11 years of program data, from FY 2002 to FY 2012. These are years for which we have complete records.

Comparison of E-rate Participation to Libraries Reporting in the IMLS Pubic Library Survey by State, FY 2002-2012

Source: IMLS

Over this 11-year time span, 15,551 libraries participated in E-rate program. This is a much larger number than most people had previously thought. As a point of comparison there were 16,536 public libraries in the most recent IMLS Public Libraries in the United States national survey (FY2012), which is a census of US libraries. But it would be wrong to assume that these 15,000+ libraries participated in the program every single year. There are a number of reasons why a library or school may participate one year and not the next. Though some libraries apply year after year, others apply only when specific telecommunications resources and services were needed. When we looked over the 11-year period, the average number of years that an individual library participated in the E-rate program was about 7.8.


This first look at the E-rate Block 4 data is great start for learning more about how the E-rate program is working for US libraries. Click here to see the number of libraries in your state (XLSX, 16KB) that participated in the program from 2002-2012. Click here to see the entire list (XLSX, 1.4MB) of 15,000+ participating libraries to see which years they participated in the E-rate program.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.