Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will open the Washington Office Update with a new announcement Saturday, June 29, at 8:30 a.m. as part of the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference. Susan Crawford, former Special Assistant to President Obama for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, will follow with a provocative take on why Americans are paying more, but getting less for high-speed Internet access. The session will take place in McCormick Convention Center Room S502.
One of the most-discussed topics in the news is immigration reform. While the outcome of this political debate is still unclear, Hildreth and Mayorkas know libraries play vital roles in supporting access to government information, English language training and other educational opportunities. They will announce a new partnership that acknowledges these roles and lays out tools and activities for libraries to better assist new immigrants.
A frequent media commentator and Internet activist, Crawford will explore themes outlined in her new book “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.” Of particular interest to librarians, Crawford examines how powerful telecommunications monopolies stymie policy efforts to improve Internet access at affordable rates. The New Republic recently likened her to Elizabeth Warren in her efforts to increase public understanding of the issues at stake and seek regulatory action to address market failures.
“‘Captive Audience’…offers a calm but chilling state-of-play on the information age in the United States. If you are looking for the answer to why much of the developed world has cheap, reliable connections to the Internet while America seems just one step ahead of the dial-up era, her book would be a good place to find out,” said David Carr in the New York Times.
More recently, Crawford has written about the National Security Agency’s over-dependence on technology for surveillance and challenged “free speech” claims from Comcast and Verizon in the context of network neutrality.
“She gets the facts straight—I know because I was there. But she also does something just as important: she puts the facts in perspective, providing readers with an analysis that is essential if we are ever going to forge communications policies that serve all Americans,” said former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael J. Copps of Crawford.
Crawford is a professor at Cardozo Law School and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She also is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Advisory Council on Technology and Innovation. Crawford has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Michigan, and serves as a faculty co-director of the Berkman Center at Harvard.
“From immigration to high-speed broadband and from surveillance to digital learning, the ALA Washington Office is engaged with federal agencies, Congress, and the courts on the issues that most impact librarians and the people we serve,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office. “I’m pleased we will be able to share a slice of this work at the update, and in other programs throughout the conference.”
The Washington Office Update will be followed by break-out sessions on gigabit library networks, e-government, and copyright from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.