The American Library Association (ALA) recently recognized a Washington Office staffer for her successful leadership advocating on behalf of libraries across the country in connection with the FCC’s E-rate proceeding. ALA last week awarded Marijke Visser, associate director of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), the 2015 Staff Achievement Award for her work to push for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make substantial improvements to the E-rate program. Marijke has worked for the ALA for the past six years.
Visser led efforts to advocate on behalf of the public and school libraries that depend on high-capacity broadband to serve their patrons. And her hard work has paid off: In December 2014, the FCC announced that it will add an additional $1.5 billion to the yearly program for libraries and schools. Throughout the multi-year advocacy process, Marijke helped to strengthen ALA relationships with FCC leaders, as evident by the video message FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, as well as FCC Special Counsel Gigi Sohn’s speaking engagement at the same conference. In May 2014, Chairman Wheeler hosted a meeting at the FCC of ALA member-leaders that included ALA President-elect Courtney Young, Public Library Association (PLA) Immediate Past President Carolyn Anthony, Public Library Association Board Member Felton Thomas, and Public Library Association staff member Mary Hirsh.
ALA staff members lauded Marijke’s contributions to the library community during ALA’s recent annual Staff Achievement Day:
“2014 was an extraordinary year for Marijke Visser and her contributions to the library community,” said Alan Inouye, OITP Director. “Indeed, it isn’t often that any one person has a material influence on a billion-dollar program increase. In this rare case, the results matched the dramatic and exceptional effort invested by Marijke far beyond the usual work week, and her engagement built stronger relationships inside and outside the ALA to position us for future success. Despite this emphasis on policy advocacy on the E-rate program, she also made advances in her youth and technology work and built some bridges to other ALA units.”
“As the program director for the ALA telecommunications policy portfolio, I work the most closely and the most often with Marijke,” said Larra Clark, deputy director of OITP. “Not only has she delivered remarkable results to the benefit of the ALA’s visibility and standing on the national policy stage, but she has done it with remarkable grace, humor, inclusiveness, and perseverance including over late nights, weekends and family vacation.”
“PLA was one of several partner organizations working with Marijke and OITP staff on E-rate,” said Carolyn Anthony, PLA Immediate Past President and director of the Skokie Public Library in Illinois. “The communication between our organizations, librarians, and the FCC, through its formal ‘comment period process’ is complex and vitally important. Marijke, with her deep knowledge of the process and the FCC, was there every step of the way. Through her excellent relationships with FCC staff, she navigated us through very challenging waters, always with confidence, competence and grace.”
Finally, here’s praise from Kathleen Moeller-Peiffer, who is the deputy New Jersey State Librarian for Lifelong Learning, president of the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies and chair of the ALA E-rate Task Force:
“Marijke began her work by contacting various library constituencies and requesting their input on the changes. She continued her work by bringing those constituencies to consensus so as to present a united library position to the Commission. Finally, she kept the e-rate task force, state e-rate coordinators and the library field in general informed of ALA’s positions and the reasons behind them every step of the way by email, conference calls and articles. The resulting actions taken by the FCC were favorable to libraries in no small way due to her advocacy.”
Hearty congratulations to Marijke on her achievements and recognition.