The American Library Association today announced the 12 library and information professionals who will make up the inaugural ALA Policy Corps, an ALA initiative to develop expertise within the library community on key national public policies that are important to libraries.

The inaugural members include:

  • Hannah Buckland, Director of Library Services, Leech Lake Tribal College, Minn.
  • Todd Carpenter, Executive Director, National Information Standards Organization, Md.
  • Nicolle Davies, Executive Director, Charleston County Public Library, S.C.
  • Ann Ewbank, Associate Professor of School Library Media, Montana State University Department of Education, Mont.
  • Samantha Hines, Associate Dean of Instructional Resources, Peninsula College, Wash.
  • Qiana Johnson, Collection & Organizational Data Analysis Librarian, Northwestern University Libraries, Ill.
  • Candice Mack, Senior Librarian/Manager, Systemwide Teen Services, Los Angeles Public Library, Calif.
  • Jenna Nemec-Loise, Head Librarian, North Shore Country Day School, Ill.
  • Hallie Rich, Communications & External Relations Director, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Ohio
  • Deborah Rinio, Secretary, Alaska Association of School Librarians, Ala.
  • Lisa Varga, Executive Director, Virginia Library Association, Va.
  • Lance Werner, Director, Kent District Library, Mich.

The Corps is a signature initiative of ALA president Jim Neal, who launched the program in October 2017 as an extension of the Libraries Transform; Libraries Lead campaign. In an interview with PW ahead of the ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago, Neal explained why the program is 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.”

More than 60 applications were reviewed by a subgroup of the ALA Policy Corps Working Group, which is providing direction for the new program. In addition to cultivating issue expertise, the cohort will receive training in other skills such as public speaking and media engagement to be effective advocates.

“The past year has brought sweeping changes and challenges to policies that ALA has advocated for, from net neutrality to federal library funding to privacy protections,” Neal said, in a statement. “It is imperative that information professionals have a voice, not only in defending, but in shaping national policies that impact our patrons, our profession and our nation. This first cohort exemplifies diversity from across library types and geography, as well as a breadth of policy expertise and passion that represents our profession.”