American Library Association (ALA) President Jim Neal this week announced the launch of the ALA Policy Corps, an initiative that seeks to draw on the expertise within the library community to work on the many policy initiatives that affect libraries.

The Corps will launch with an initial cohort of 10-12 participants. In a statement, Neal said the goal of the ALA Policy Corps is “to cultivate a group of practitioners and trustees who have deep and sustained knowledge of key policy issues” who can "intervene and participate in targeted advocacy work.”

In an interview with PW ahead of the ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago, Neal spoke of the program as one of his priorities for his year as ALA president.

“ALA already has strong advocacy training programs. Where I think we can improve is in preparing individuals who have a deep knowledge of particular legislative and policy issues to better understand and navigate the political process,” he said. “We need go-to people who can go into a legislator’s office, or testify before a congressional committee, be interviewed by the press, or write a good op-ed piece, for example.”

The application process for the 2018 ALA Policy Corps is now open. Applications, available on the ALA Policy Corps web page, will be accepted through Friday, November 3, 2017.

Successful Applicants should be ALA members with at least five years of library experience, with strong speaking and writing skills, and among other things, a commitment to “keeping current on policy-related library issues and to building and supporting a strong, national network of advocates over time.”