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Why PPL supports net neutrality

posted: , by Sarah Campbell
tags: Director's Updates | Online Services | Adults | Business | Government

This afternoon, the FCC approved their Restoring Internet Freedom Order, overturning the Open Internet Order that established net neutrality protections within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015. PPL and the library field are strongly opposed to this decision.

Libraries rarely advocate on legal or regulatory actions, holding to our commitment to educate and inform rather than take sides. However, net neutrality principles are a core library value. Public libraries take seriously our mission to provide free and equitable information access to all members of the public as they seek to become more informed citizens and to improve the quality of their lives. Libraries strongly assert that equity of access to online information and services is critical to a healthy democracy.

As others have voiced, our concerns about the Restoring Internet Freedom Order center on whether internet service providers (ISPs) could control what and how internet content travels on their networks. This would make certain resources unavailable or slower to access for those who do not or cannot pay, and has the potential to infringe upon new online content from competitive entrepreneurs and creators looking to enter the market.

Public libraries like PPL are committed to bridge the digital divide – the social and economic inequality of access to the internet – by providing broadband, computers, and training for free and open use to our patrons, many of whom rely on the Library as a primary web access point.  We are therefore extremely concerned that, without net neutrality rules in place, such access will be substantially unprotected.

Inequity of access to content could also compromise our ability to provide the breadth of information needed to serve people with diverse needs and perspectives, as we do at all of our branches and online.

PPL joins our library colleagues around the country to stand with internet founders, content providers, business people, and many millions of others in asserting that net neutrality principles must be the standard held in our society, and rules must apply to reinforce their value. We are fortunate in Maine that Senators Collins and King, and Representative Pingree made clear statements prior to the FCC’s vote in favor of preserving the Open Internet Order.

At this point, there are two ways that you can engage in the future of net neutrality. First, keep yourself informed about the issues and actions taken (see PPL’s recommended resources). Second, as an informed consumer, participate in the discussion as it moves forward and learn more about your own internet access and speed.

You can count on PPL to continue to provide complete and balanced information, to be forward-looking, and to actively defend your freedom to information access and expression.

Help is On the Way: Charitable Giving

posted: , by PPL
tags: Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture | Business | Government | News

A couple of years ago, I put together this blog post about charitable giving. Remarkably, the included links are still alive and kicking.

The instinct is strong to shake off the frustration we feel when Black Friday comes, Small Business Saturday goes, and Cyber Monday gets smaller in the rear-view mirror… if your gift list seems lame in the face of world realities, maybe the personal urge to make things better can be indulged for the good of the many. Read on:

You know you want to save the world.   You have a heart the size of our great State o’ Maine and finite finances. Where, oh, where to begin?

The good news is that there are some terrific resources out there to help you make good decisions that suit your priorities. Before your good intentions grind to a confused halt, take a look at some of these websites.

Where to start? A really terrific site to check out is Philanthropedia, Guide to Better Giving.  It is a great tool to help you focus and to understand various strategies for giving. It answers questions you may not know you have!

Sometimes you have a good idea of who you’d like to give to, but you’d like some reliable nuts-and-bolts rating information* about how they use your hard-earned donated dollars.

* Keep in mind that different sites will use different grading scales when rating nonprofits, as outlined in this TEDTalk. This one is well worth a few minutes viewing time. It presents an interesting view of nonprofits’ spending strategies.

That said, here are two sites that sort some of it out for you: Charity Navigator  and Guidestar.

These sites can also provide some focus when you know you want your donation to go toward a particular area of need, but need to find an organization that is a good fit.

It isn’t easy to know who to trust when unsolicited pleas for donations come your way. It might be a phone call, an email, something in your mailbox, or someone at your door. The Federal Trade Commission has a few things to say on the subject.

And let’s not forget that when we indulge our urge to be generous, we do so with the blessing of the US Tax Code. Here are some tips from the IRS.  Charitable giving can really pay off !

There are so many ways to make a difference. Finding what works for you can feel overwhelming. When opening your wallet seems like the best option, these resources may serve as guides. And, let’s just say it: there is nothing like the good feeling you get when you use your head to put your money where your heart is.

Happy Giving! Eileen of the Business and Government Team.

American Archives Month – Historical Research of Maine Businesses & Industries

posted: , by Abraham
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Online Services | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Business | Portland History

The Portland Room and Archives has several resources that are useful when researching the history of a given business or industry. The Maine Register is a business directory covering the State of Maine. It is organized by county and then towns within the county. Included is a classified business index and a manufacturers’ section, which includes the names and locations of businesses as well as the names of owners or principal officers, purchasing agents and sales offices. There are also a lot of other fun facts included as well, for example, how the counties voted for governor and presidential candidates in election years, and current postage rates.

The Annual Report of the Bureau of Industrial and Labor Statistics for the State of Maine, covering 1887-1910, often contain extensive reports on industries in Maine in a given year. The 1890 edition is dedicated to agriculture and the strikes among the granite workers that year.

Another great print resource is Edward H. Elwell’s 1875 edition “The Successful Business Houses of Portland.” Organized by type of business and then business names, he gives a history of the business and goods they sell or manufacture.


Charles F. Guptill & Co. ca. 1910
from the Portland Room Photo Archives

Sometimes information about businesses can be gleaned from viewing the PPL’s Picture and Photo Collections.

The newspapers can be sources of information for this type of research. There are two indexes that can be used. The Jordan Index covers sixteen newspapers, primarily published in Portland, between 1785-1835. The Maine News Index covers the Press Herald newspapers between 1945-1992. After 1992, the newspapers can be found in the Maine Newsstand database.

Finally, check out PPL’s Digital Commons. Much of what you find here are abstracts of articles the Portland Room has in print. We have also digitized the 1882 Goodwin Atlas and the 1914 Richards Atlas, that show streets, addresses, footprints of buildings and what the buildings are made of, as well as a print copy of 1957 Sanborn fire insurance map.

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