Field Guides by Lorcan Dempsey

Predicting the Unpredictable

March 4, 2024

Scholars Michael Barrett and Wanda Orlikowski note in a March 2021 paper that technologies deployed at scale have both constructive and problematic outcomes. As library decision makers position the library as a source of advice and expertise, as they determine the products and services to invest in, and as they consider the welfare of their … Continue reading Predicting the Unpredictable

Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Defending the Fifth Freedom

January 4, 2021

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. About 698 per 100,000 of the national population are in some form of detention. According to a March 2020 report from the Prison Policy Initiative, the US criminal justice system detains almost 2.3 million people in various facilities in the US and its territories. Chief … Continue reading Defending the Fifth Freedom

Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Ending Information Redlining

November 2, 2020

In my most recent column, I called out equitable information access as a matter of social justice and questioned how ALA and its collective constituency might work even more intentionally to eradicate information poverty. I want to pick up this discussion. Let’s look at the pervasive and persistent inequities in information and digital access—and the … Continue reading Ending Information Redlining

Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Necessary Trouble

September 1, 2020

Lewis, who served as a US representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district for more than three decades, was a friend to libraries and to ALA, for which he was a frequent speaker. His late wife, Lillian, had been a librarian, and libraries played a major role in Lewis’s early activism. He often spoke about how, … Continue reading Necessary Trouble


ALA and Libraries Win the Day on Net Neutrality

June 20, 2016

This landmark decision confirms that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot engage in “paid prioritization” and must keep the internet open to all users, content providers, and application developers. This decision has a direct impact on library services: It ensures that libraries and library patrons can post and distribute information over the internet without having to … Continue reading ALA and Libraries Win the Day on Net Neutrality

Margaret Kavaras on Gellért Hill overlooking central Budapest

Around the World in 80 Weeks

January 27, 2016

It has been a unique and interesting experience living abroad and witnessing firsthand the ways in which information access, technology policy, and digital privacy are closely intertwined with the political process. Following the completion of my fellowship in August 2014, I departed the US for Budapest, Hungary, where I took master’s courses in public policy … Continue reading Around the World in 80 Weeks

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Director James LaRue talks with participants at the Information Policy Workshop.

ALA Information Policy Workshop

January 10, 2016

Delivering the opening remarks, ALA President Sari Feldman highlighted information policy as a key component of ALA’s Strategic Directions. She noted that the first step in expanding and strengthening library professionals’ involvement in information policy is increasing their understanding of it. The day’s programming focused on elucidating this concept, and building library professionals’ capacity for … Continue reading ALA Information Policy Workshop