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Federal libraries and the national policy agenda

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting at the Library of Congress with the FEDLINK Advisory Board. My brief was a presentation and discussion of the National Policy Agenda for Libraries in the context of federal libraries and related institutions.

Federal libraries represent both a particular segment of the library community and an extensive and far-reaching one as well—including service to the general public. Those with the highest visibility and general name recognition include the Library of Congress and National Library of Medicine but in fact there are numerous libraries in the federal sector, including several hundred libraries in the armed forces. The latter includes the Navy General Library Program, 96 years old, with over a million sailor visits in the last fiscal year.

Following is the FEDLINK mission statement:

The Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK) is an organization of federal agencies working together to achieve optimum use of the resources and facilities of federal libraries and information centers by promoting common services, coordinating and sharing available resources, and providing continuing professional education for federal library and information staff. FEDLINK serves as a forum for discussion of the policies, programs, procedures and technologies that affect federal libraries and the information services they provide to their agencies, to the Congress, the federal courts and the American people.

FEDLINK celebrates 50 years of service this year. I’m pleased to have ALA’s Jessica McGilvray serving as our liaison to FEDLINK.

The policy and advocacy challenges for federal libraries have substantial commonalities with other library segments. The problem of higher-ups not understanding the true contributions of libraries resonated—and accordingly, suggested the need for all library managers to be marketing and sales people (and the consequent need for such education in master’s programs).

Many thanks to Blane Dessy of the Library of Congress for the invitation. ALA looks forward to continued and closer collaboration on these issues, and I am particularly committed to working cooperatively on the many federal library issues that intersect with ALA’s national policy work.

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Alan Inouye

Alan S. Inouye is the director of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy. Previously, he was the coordinator of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee in the Executive Office of the President and a study director at the National Academy of Sciences. Alan completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

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