Lance Werner, executive director of Kent District Library, is one of 12 library and information professionals from across the country that will participate in the inaugural ALA Policy Corps, which aims to develop a cadre of experts with deep and sustained knowledge of national public policies in areas key to American Library Association's (ALA) strategic goals. The ALA Policy Corps aims to expand ALA's ability to advocate on key policy issues on behalf of the library community.
“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,” said ALA President Jim Neal. “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.”
The Corps is a signature initiative of Neal, who launched the program in October 2017 as an extension of the Libraries Transform; Libraries Lead campaign. The Corps is grounded in the National Policy Agenda for Libraries that emerged out of the Policy Revolution! initiative and is designed to build on other ALA professional development programs.
More than 60 written applications were reviewed by a subgroup of the ALA Policy Corps Working Group, which is providing direction for the new program. Finalists were asked to complete a two-minute, prerecorded video presentation about a sample policy issue. 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. Training will take place in webinars throughout the coming months as well as in a March workshop in Washington, D.C. and during ALA’s 2018 National Library Legislative Day on May 7-8.