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ALA Washington Office hosts Google Policy Fellow lunch

Guest Post by Johnna Percell, Google Policy Fellow

Painting for Fortune Magazine, 1947.
Painting for Fortune Magazine, 1947, by Hanaiah Harari. Photo by James Vaughn.

On Thursday, July 16, ALA Washington Office welcomed a few of my colleagues in the Google Policy Fellowship to a lunch discussion of the office’s portfolio. The Google Policy Fellowship provides an opportunity for undergraduates, graduates, and law students who are interested in Internet and technology policy to spend the summer working at public interest groups here in DC as well as in Ottawa, San Francisco, and other cities around the world.

Fellows in attendance Thursday included Sasha Moss, who is working with R Street Institute; Miranda Bogen, a fellow with the Internet Education Foundation; Ian Dunham from the Future of Music Coalition; Maria Paz Canales, who is at the Center for Democracy and Technology; and of course me. The discussion brought together a wealth of experience and insight into many interesting facets of technology policy.

ALA staffers Alan Inouye, Carrie Russell, and Stephen Mayeaux were kind enough to take time out of their day to share with us why libraries are invested in policy and how ALA’s Washington Office is working to further those interests of concern to libraries everywhere. The discussion covered ALA’s work on open access, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), copyright, orphan works, mass digitization and the changing roles of cultural institutions.

This prompted a rousing discussion of how emerging technologies are re-writing (have re-written?) the rules of creation, ownership, and access to information. The Internet is breaking down barriers between the role of a consumer and that of a creator. To fully participate in society, you must have access to technology necessary to engage in this exchange. Libraries have an important position at the intersection of disruptive technology, innovation, and access that allows them to facilitate greater participation by everyone.

At the end of our discussion, we all affirmed the urgency of updating laws and policies to address the changing nature of information. It’s invigorating to have the opportunity to spend my summer engaging these ideas with my fellow Google Policy Fellows – a crop of future information professionals who, thanks to ALA, are now more aware of the essential role of libraries in information technology policy.

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Charlie Wapner

Charlie Wapner is an information policy analyst for the Washington Office.

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