This year marks the 10th anniversary of the American Library Association’s Washington Office participation in the Google Public Policy Fellow program. We were lucky to host Alisa Holahan, JD, a graduate student at the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, over the summer. Read on to learn more about her experience working with the Office for Information Technology Policy.
I was honored to have the opportunity to serve as a Google Public Policy Fellow this summer at the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) in Washington, D.C. The Google Public Policy Fellowship provides undergraduate, graduate and law students with the opportunity to work in the summer with organizations that are actively engaged with technology policy issues. OITP supports ALA’s public policy work by advocating for information technology policies that promote open, full, and fair access to electronic information.
The placement with OITP was an ideal match because it perfectly combined my interests in librarianship and information policy. In my work at the ALA, I focused on both copyright and issues related to the FCC’s Schools and Libraries Program (“E-rate”). My work on copyright focused on the recent debate over whether the Copyright Office should remain in the Library of Congress. I wrote a report for OITP arguing that based on both legislative history and the Office’s current needs, the Copyright Office should stay in the Library of Congress. I also researched a number of different aspects of the E-rate program, which provides essential funding for broadband in schools and libraries. I provided information about how various public policy organizations view the program, researched the administration of the program, and identified possible E-rate supporters.
A key component of my experience as a Google Public Policy Fellow was expanding my knowledge of technology policy issues. Google hosted bi-weekly panels for the fellows, which focused on important tech policy issues, such as free speech, the future of work and privacy. It was a privilege to listen to and learn from so many experts in the tech policy field. It was also exciting to speak with the other fellows about their work and policy interests.
Additionally, during my time as a fellow, OITP Director Alan Inouye encouraged me to take advantage of as many relevant events in D.C. as possible. I attended a number of panel presentations on topics related to tech policy, including big data, free speech and anti-SLAPP legislation. A highlight was having the opportunity to attend a congressional oversight hearing on the Library of Congress’s information technology management.
The Google Public Policy Fellowship with the ALA gave me a much deeper understanding of the many ways in which libraries and technology policy intersect. It was a wonderful experience and I am so grateful to have had the chance to spend my summer with OITP.