ALA Policy Corps

American Library Association Policy Corps

The ALA Policy Corps aims to expand our ability to advocate on key policy issues on behalf of the library community. The Corps builds on the Policy Revolution! Initiative and was launched in partnership with 2017-18 ALA President Jim Neal. Participants in the Corps focus on issues for which deep and sustained knowledge are necessary to advance ALA policy goals and library values among policymakers.


ALA POLICY CORPS MEMBERS - 2020 COHORT

Sara Benson
Sara Benson — Assistant Professor, University of Illinois Library, IL

Amanda Kordeliski
Amanda Kordeliski — School Librarian, Norman North High School, OK

Erin MacFarlane
Erin MacFarlane — Customer Experience Administrator, Maricopa County Library District, AZ

Valerie Tagoe
Valerie Tagoe — Media Specialist, Wilmer-Hutchins High School, TX

Sonya Durney
Sonya Durney — Research and Teaching Librarian, University of New England, ME

Sonnett Ireland
Sonnet Ireland — Branch Manager, St. Tammany Parish Library, LA

Nikki Scarpitti
Nikki Scarpitti — Director, Strategic Initiatives and Advocacy, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH

Timothy Vollmer
Timothy Vollmer —  Scholarly Communication and Copyright Librarian, UC Berkeley Library, CA

RATIONALE

A critical resource for our policy advocacy is library advocates with specific knowledge in our priority areas. We need both the front-line experience and perspective and the additional capacity to reach and influence more decisionmakers more often. Such advocates may serve on a think tank panel to discuss how libraries advance small business and entrepreneurship opportunities, testify at a Congressional hearing on copyright policy, or accompany Washington Office staff on a visit to the Federal Communications Commission to discuss the E-rate program, for instance.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND GOALS

To create ongoing capacity for the library community to develop and sustain strategic advocacy efforts, build relationships, and positively impact public policy decisions that align with ALA’s national policy agenda. Goals for the program include:

  • Cultivate policy experts available to ALA and the ALA Washington Office who are able to intervene and participate in targeted advocacy work such as testifying before legislative committees, meeting with governmental or industry leaders and their staffs, participating in national forums, working with policy partners, and interacting with local, regional, and national media
  • Create longevity in expertise and engagement in early to mid-career library and information professionals
  • Positively impact national public policy in areas key to ALA’s strategic goals and library values

ALA POLICY CORPS ADVISORY GROUP

The American Library Association Policy Corps Advisory Group is jointly appointed by the chairs of the Committee on Legislation and the Information Technology Policy Advisory Committee. It will provide ongoing oversight of the Policy Corps program in three areas:

  1. Strategic: Assess the initiative in the context of other related ALA activities, the public policy environment, and trends in the training of advocates. Provide guidance to enable the initiative to develop and improve to address new opportunities and challenges.
  2. Operational: Have primary responsibility in selecting each year’s incoming cohort. Assess and improve the selection criteria and process as needed.
  3. Assessment: Have responsibility for ongoing assessment and evaluation of the program as a whole to help guide ongoing improvements.

Roster

RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER ALA INITIATIVES

This program represents a progression of the Policy Revolution! Initiative led by the Washington Office. Policy Revolution! was a three-year initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which established a National Policy Agenda for Libraries and developed resources targeted to policymakers that emphasize how libraries are addressing national priorities. The Corps program also is an extension of the Libraries Transform campaign. It complements and provides a pathway for additional professional development related to the ALA Emerging Leader program, ACRL's College Library Directors Mentorship program, and the PLA Leadership Academy.

The program was launched and piloted 2017-2019 through a collaboration of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), Public Library Association (PLA), United for Libraries, the ALA Public Policy & Advocacy Office and ALA Past President Jim Neal.

THE PROGRAM

Given that sustained engagement in policy advocacy is a hallmark of this initiative, participants in the Corps are expected to be involved for multiple years. The first year focuses on training. Subsequent years will deepen engagement with policy advocacy with ongoing activities and opportunities for networking across the cohort and among other policy advocates inside and outside the library community.

Two events in Washington, D.C. anchor the first-year experience. The first workshop will provide a survey of key issues, major players in the legislative and policy processes, and the processes of engaging national decision makers and influencers. A second workshop will take place in fall. Participants' travel to both events will be funded as part of the Corps initiative. Participants will be provided with learning materials via monthly conference calls or webinars, and a listserv and asked to participate in sessions and meetings at ALA conferences as they can.

NEWS