I had a great experience at the recent Conference in Chicago hope you did, too. There is such positive energy being amongst thousands of library folks dedicated to advancing services in their respective communities, the library profession and ALA. A particular highlight for me was announcing Marijke Visser’s promotion to Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate at the Friday meeting of the OITP Advisory Committee.
Under Marijke’s leadership, ALA’s engagement and profile in libraries and coding have blossomed. The most recent development is Google’s sponsorship of $500,000 of funding to ALA to provide grants to libraries for coding initiatives, with a focus on promoting youth engagement by girls and other underrepresented groups in computer science-related educational and career paths. But this development is only the latest installment in a multi-year initiative with Google that includes an in-process project on MLS education and coding and an initial project to characterize the lay of the land.
Marijke’s work also serves to strengthen our collaboration with ALA divisions. In the latest effort, YALSA will administer the grant program (the request for proposals will be released in the next few weeks: please apply!). AASL, ALSC, YALSA and OITP will comprise the selection committee.
Through Marijke’s initiative, we also are collaborating with Rosen Publishing. Already one advocacy video for Libraries Ready to Code has been produced through the generosity of Rosen Publishing and more is in the works. In addition, we have a new collaboration with the National Center for Women & Information Technology and a budding one with another key organization in coding (stay tuned!).
Last, but certainly not least, is Marijke’s leadership in advocating for libraries within the E-rate program. Her work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) helped lead to an increase in annual E-rate funding from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion. We expect E-rate to rise on the FCC policy agenda once net neutrality is addressed, so work has begun on our strategy for advocacy this fall and into 2018. Marijke’s reputation also has developed within the world of telecommunications policy more broadly, as illustrated by her invitation to serve on an advisory committee of NTCA—the Rural Broadband Association.
I hope that you will join me in congratulating Marijke on this well-deserved recognition.