in their communities, on their campuses, and in the profession.
We need to make sure that the leadership development programs within ALA and outside of ALA work together to build
a broader and more robust leadership capacity among librarians.
And that ties in to advocacy. ALA already has strong advocacy
training programs. Where I think we can improve is in preparing individuals who have a deep knowledge of particular
legislative and policy issues to better understand and navigate
the political process. We need go-to people who can go into a
legislator’s office, or testify before a congressional committee,
be interviewed by the press, or write a good op-ed piece, for
example. So we are going to focus next year on a pilot program
to train 12–15 librarians in various policy areas. If that proves
effective, we’ll try to sustain it as an ongoing program.
In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that there
were just a handful of school librarians left to serve the
entire city of Philadelphia. Can you talk about the challenges facing school libraries? Especially given that
Trump seems determined to gut the Department of
Education and reverse the benefits of the Every Student
Succeeds Act, which ALA fought hard for and hailed as
a big victory at the end of 2015.
This is an extraordinary challenge for us. I’ve argued, as have
many others, that school libraries are foundational to the
health of all libraries in this country. Public libraries and
academic libraries are able to do their work effectively
because school libraries instill a love of reading and prepare
students to understand how to discover, evaluate, and use
information. If we’re losing school libraries, if funding is
being cut, if staffing is being deprofessionalized, we have a
serious problem. What I hope to do is to continue to engage
the larger library community in looking at how the chal-
lenges school libraries face articulates over all of our work.
It’s important to recognize that we are a community, and
there is an ecology of libraries that we need to support and
advance. School libraries will be a major conversation over
my next year as president.
What’s your take on the health of library relations
with the publishing industry? Relations seemed to be
improving in recent years after tensions had flared
over issues around e-book access in 2012. But with
disagreements over the future of the Copyright Office
and a few thorny fair use cases coming up in the
courts on appeal, how would you characterize the
state of the library-publisher union?
We do have disagreements around some key policy issues,
chief among which are copyright and
fair use, and of course we’re dealing
with the issue of who should appoint
the register of copyrights and ultimately whether the Copyright Office
should remain part of the Library of
Congress. But to me, those differences of
opinion should not be definitional.
There’s so much more that we come
together on, and there’s such a fundamental interdependence. We need to
build on that. You mentioned e-books,
and we’ve made progress on public
library access to e-books, but there is
still much more to do. I was part of
meetings this spring between ALA and
several publishers, and I was quite
taken aback by e-book prices and contract terms for public libraries, for
example. We also have issues related to
accessibility, privacy, and preservation.
It’s alarming that there is no strategy for
preserving and permanently archiving
e-books and the vast quantities of born
digital materials. Libraries and publishers may have differences, but we also
have a working relationship. And that’s
good, because there is a lot for us to work
on together. ■
A migration story
that touches us all.
Acclaimed poet Bao Phi
will be signing advanced
reader copies at ALA.