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Policy discussions continue at ALA midwinter meeting

Guardian Editor Spencer Ackerman.

More than 12,000 librarians, vendors and library supporters attended this year’s 2014 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, which took place in Philadelphia from January 24-28, 2014. Large audiences participated in ALA Washington Office policy sessions, including conference programs that explored E-rate funding, copyright lawsuits, ebook access and internet filtering.

On Saturday, more than one hundred attendees gathered to hear insider information on last June’s National Security Agency (NSA) leak from Guardian Editor Spencer Ackerman during the session “NSA Under a Microscope: The Story Behind the Revelations About the NSA Surveillance Programs.” In his lecture, Ackerman explained that NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s actions largely confirmed the suspicions held by national security reporters and civil liberties watchdog groups.

“All of the sudden, I had my hands on an extensive trove of NSA documents that gave credence to a lot of what I had previously considered kind of conspiratorial talk about the scope of government surveillance and that upset everyone,” said Ackerman.

Immediately after Ackerman spoke, Patrice McDermott, director of, moderated questions from the audience. As part of the conference session, ALA Washington staff previewed videos that advocates can use for library funding during National Library Legislative Day.

Google Policy Manager Wilson White with conference reporter Brad Martin.

Over the next two days, crowds of conference attendees lined up to try on Google Glass, the new wearable computers from Google that’s worn like a pair of glasses. Wilson L. White, public policy manager of Glass at Google, and technical members of the Google Glass Team, demonstrated the new devices to eager attendees. ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and Google, Inc. jointly sponsored the demonstration.

During other ALA Washington Office sessions, publishing and library experts discussed the best ways that libraries can bring together authors and readers in the digital age. In another session, Google Legal Counsel Fred von Lohmann discussed the Google Book Search lawsuit court ruling. Finally, library and policy detailed ALA’s vision for an E-rate 2.0 that better serves America’s libraries and communities.

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Jazzy Wright

Jazzy Wright is a former press officer of the Washington Office.

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