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Last call: Comment on draft national policy agenda for libraries by 2-27!

Among the hundreds of powerful connections and conversations that took place at the 2015 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, librarians of all backgrounds began commenting on a draft national policy agenda for libraries. They asked how libraries can secure additional funding at a time of government budget cuts. Several noted and appreciated the inclusion of federal libraries, and most people specifically welcomed the premise of all libraries as linked together into a national infrastructure. And many saw potential for the national agenda to serve as a template for state- and local-level policy advocacy.

Image of the word "policy" in the dictionary.The draft agenda is the first step towards answering the questions “What are the U.S. library interests and priorities for the next five years that should be emphasized to national decision makers?” and “Where might there be windows of opportunity to advance a particular priority at this particular time?”

Outlining key issues and proposals is being pursued through the Policy Revolution! Initiative, led by the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA). A Library Advisory Committee—which includes broad representation from across the library community—provides overall guidance to the national effort. The three-year initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has three major elements: to develop a national public policy agenda, to initiate and deepen national stakeholder interactions based on policy priorities, and build library advocacy capacity for the long-term.

“We are asking big questions, and I’m really encouraged by the insightful feedback we’ve received in face-to-face meetings, emails and letters,” said OITP Director Alan Inouye. “I hope more people will share their perspectives and aspirations for building the capacity libraries of all kinds need to achieve shared national policy goals.”

The current round of public input closes Friday, February 27, 2015. Send your comments, questions and recommendations now to the project team at oitp[at]alawash[dot]org.

The draft agenda provides an umbrella of timely policy priorities and is understood to be too extensive to serve as the single policy agenda for any given entity in the community. Rather, the goal is that various library entities and their members can fashion their national policy priorities under the rubric of this national public policy agenda.

From this foundation, the ALA Washington Office will match priorities to windows of opportunity and confluence to begin advancing policy priorities—in partnership with other library organizations and allies with whom there is alignment—in mid-2015.

“In a time of increasing competition for resources and challenges to fulfilling our core missions, libraries and library organizations must come together to advocate proactively and strategically,” said COSLA President Kendall Wiggin. “Sustainable libraries are essential to sustainable communities.”

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Larra Clark

Larra Clark is the deputy director of both the Public Library Association and Washington Office’s public policy team. Larra received her bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Arizona and has a M.S. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


  1. Lorene Flanders Lorene Flanders

    There are words omitted on page 9 concerning the percentage of immigrants who use libraries.

  2. Yoojeong Eddy Yoojeong Eddy

    One of the things that is constantly causing me to question about the American library hours is the rationale of the short hours that is afforded to the public. I believe that the people in needs or people who wants the environment of the library visit the library. However, the hours are not meeting the population in need of library. Average people work 9 to five or the monday through Friday. This leaves almost impossible for the average population to utilize the libraries that only stays open during these hours plus 5 to six hours on Saturdays. That also means that it is just waste of time and resource for the libraries that are built for the public.

    The education should be the priority of the great America. We are being defeated by the people in Asia who practically live in their libraries. Our kids are not having the same opportunities as those kids in developing countries that soon will pass us along with economy incentives due to education of their children. It should be up to our children to spend adequate time at libraries by having the hours available for them( our children).

    Please consider extending the library hours. Why bother to provide the libraries if only restricting the hours to while everyone is either at school or at work?

  3. Larra Clark Larra Clark

    Thanks Lorene. We’ll take a closer look at this as we revise the draft.

  4. Larra Clark Larra Clark

    Thank you for your note, Yoojeong. Library hours can vary quite a lot based mostly on funding available to hire and support the staff needed to keep the building open and provide needed services. You’re right that the hours available to serve the community is a key concern, and we will work to see how we might work at the national level to create resources and opportunities for local libraries to be available to the public as often as possible.

  5. […] to engage with other community and national stakeholders also resonate with the emerging national policy agenda for libraries and the Aspen Institute report (pdf) on re-envisioning public […]

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