On January 4, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the inaugural members of Policy Corps, a new initiative that aims to develop political advocates for conveying the importance of libraries and librarians. As ALA President Jim Neal observed upon launching Policy Corps last fall, “ALA has significantly expanded its advocacy work and its political activism. There is a need also to cultivate a group of practitioners and trustees who have deep and sustained knowledge of key policy issues of importance to the library community and who are able to intervene and participate in targeted advocacy work.”
The Policy Corps team will meet at the Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Denver in February, attend a workshop about political activism and the legislative process in March, and attend ALA’s National Library Legislative Day in May.
Meet the first members of Policy Corps, a dozen people with diverse backgrounds and experiences who are united by their belief in libraries.
Director of library services, Leech Lake Tribal College, Cass Lake, Minnesota
Buckland serves on the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, which identifies and addresses disparities in broadband access throughout the state. Through this work she already has experience in political advocacy, and she hopes to bring her knowledge of broadband policy to Policy Corps work. She is also looking forward to developing her advocacy skills and representing tribal college libraries on a national platform.
Executive director, National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore
Carpenter’s work involves the library and publishing worlds, and his interests lie in issues of technology, copyright, intellectual property, privacy, and education. He believes content creators and content consumers have similar and compatible goals for policy, and he hopes to find common ground on these topics. He sees his role in Policy Corps as serving the community and building bridges for positive change.
Executive director, Charleston County (S.C.) Public Library
Davies has a strong background in public libraries, and throughout her career she has worked on important initiatives such as local mill levy increases that fund public libraries. A veteran of several National Library Legislative Days, she would also bring a master’s in public administration to her work with Policy Corps. Davies looks forward to developing new tools to help all types of libraries. “I know not everyone loves to do advocacy work, but it really excites me,” she says.
Associate professor, school library media, Montana State University, Bozeman
Ewbank is the immediate past chair of ALA’s Committee on Legislation, which she says is an excellent foundation for service in Policy Corps. She is an expert in school library issues and education policy, has authored or coauthored numerous publications on these topics, and has more than 20 years’ experience as a librarian and educator. In addition to honing her own skills as an advocate for libraries, Ewbank looks forward to developing these skills in others through her work in Policy Corps.
Associate dean of instructional resources, Peninsula College, Port Angeles, Washington
Hines has managed community college libraries for six years and served as president of the Montana Library Association and the Pacific Northwest Library Association. Through this work she developed an interest in advocacy and policy. As a member of Policy Corps she aims to develop strategies to advocate for community college and academic libraries and librarianship in her state and region as well as the nation.
Collection and organizational data analysis librarian, Northwestern University Libraries, Evanston, Illinois
Johnson’s professional focus is to analyze usage statistics and comparative collection analysis to ensure that Northwestern’s library collection meets patron needs. She would bring these analytical skills, with a goal of identifying ways to connect outstanding librarians to other stakeholders in their communities. More broadly, she envisions her time in Policy Corps as an opportunity to improve her skills in advocating for the importance of libraries and information access.
Senior librarian/manager, systemwide teen services, Los Angeles Public Library
Mack leads a new civic engagement initiative at Los Angeles Public Library called Teens Leading Change, which encourages teenagers to advocate on behalf of their communities. She thinks that her own service in Policy Corps will be a way to walk the walk, by doing exactly what she asks teenagers to do. The conviction that equitable access to information is a right underpins all of Mack’s efforts.
Head librarian, North Shore Country Day School, Winnetka, Illinois
Nemec-Loise has close to 20 years of experience working with youth in both public and school libraries, and she teaches a course on advocacy, policy, and youth services at Dominican University’s School of Information Studies. She would like to use her time in Policy Corps to balance her grassroots advocacy experience with national policy work, particularly as it affects youth and families.
Communications and external relations director, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library
Rich is responsible for marketing, fundraising, and stakeholder relations for Cuyahoga County Public Library. She is looking forward becoming more engaged in the policymaking process and hopes to strengthen her knowledge of key issues to become a more effective library advocate.
Secretary, Alaska Association of School Librarians, Anchorage
Rinio is a school librarian who works with teachers to develop and improve student information literacy. She believes that well-supported school library programs are one of the most cost-effective means to improve student achievement. She has experience advocating for libraries at the school, district, and state level and hopes Policy Corps will help her hone her skills and improve her policy knowledge.
Executive director, Virginia Library Association, Virginia Beach
Varga is an expert in association management and a veteran of several ALA committees. In recent years she has grown concerned about threats to intellectual freedom, prompting her interest in Policy Corps. She would like to use the skills she develops to help her colleagues get out of their comfort zones and become effective library advocates.
Director, Kent District Library, Kent County, Michigan
In addition to his library background, Werner is an attorney, a former lobbyist, and former president of the Michigan Library Association. Over the course of his career he has regularly interacted with members of Michigan’s legislature on issues of concern to librarians. As a member of Policy Corps, he looks forward to similar opportunities to advocate for librarians on the national level.