The following message is sent on behalf of American Library Association President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.
In response to your question about ALA regularly working with other organizations and on other topics the following may be helpful to you and other Councilors and members.
Building coalitions with other Washington-based groups aligned with ALA's positions is one among many things that the Public Policy and Advocacy (PPA) office is charged with. Our longtime presence in Washington facilitates relationships with reputable partners in education, copyright, broadband, and other issues ALA members care about.
Another task of PPA is to steward the Association's resources – staff time, advocate energy, credibility capital – and judge where libraries and the profession will get the greatest ROI. The issue you raise (PSLF) is a perfect case in point. As the program has numerous organizations throughout the education community and beyond advocating for it, the weight of ALA's good name is a sufficient contribution to the cause.
On the other hand, ALA is bringing the full weight of our robust advocacy network to bear in support of IMLS, which is critical to libraries but does not have as broad support as PSLF. Similarly, ALA is investing substantial time and effort into the Build America's Libraries Act, which would be the first federal funding for library construction in over 20 years! The bill provides $5 billion to repair, modernize, and construct library facilities in underserved and marginalized communities.
I appreciate the way the PPA team is deploying ALA's limited resources to keep up with the policy agenda that COL has approved. It's hard to keep track of all the work coming out of our DC office on so many issues – I know because they frequently approach me with "opportunities" to advocate for libraries and library workers and then share our efforts broadly. The best way to keep up with all ALA's coalition and public policy work is through the reports that PPA provides to Council. For real-time updates, you can follow @LibraryPolicy on Twitter. In fact, amplifying ALA advocacy work on social media (such as the Build Act alert) is a valuable way for member leaders to support the Association and our impact on public policy.
I hope this response is helpful.
Julius C. Jefferson Jr.
2020-2021 ALA President
This is a great discussion. I wanted to share another example of PPA's coalition work.
ALA recently joined with PK-12 partner organizations to file a petition with the FCC, organized by the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Consortium to extend E-rate for off-campus learning. Coalition advocacy amplifies our voice and sometimes it is appropriate for ALA to take the lead, and other times, partner organizations do so. Who takes the lead is a strategic decision based upon the best chances for success.
From the SHLB newsletter:
On January 26, SHLB led a coalition of education advocates in petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to enable E-rate funding for off-campus learning. If granted, the petition will empower schools and libraries to connect the 15 to 16 million K-12 students lacking home internet access by extending their networks without jeopardizing E-rate dollars. The coalition of education advocates includes the American Library Association (ALA), the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the State E-rate Coordinators' Alliance (SECA), the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), the Wireless Future Project at New America, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Here's a timeline of updates on the off-campus connectivity issue:
Next steps: You can file reply comments in support of SHLB's E-rate petition by February 23 here.
Many Indigenous peoples, including the Apsáalooke (Crow), Niimiipuu (Nez Perce), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (Lakota), Piikani (Blackfeet), Seliš (Salish), Shoshone, and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Northern Cheyenne), have traditional claims to the lands upon which Montana State University (MSU) physically sits. Indigenous histories and perspectives inform my work.
Ann Dutton Ewbank, PhD Associate Professor and Department Head Director, School Library Media Certificate Program Department of Education College of Education, Health and Human Development Montana State University (406) 994-5788
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