This year 12 library and information professionals were selected to participate in the inaugural ALA Policy Corps, which aims to develop a cohort of advocates for libraries and librarians. Of those 12, three are ALCTS members. During the week of National Library Legislative Day, we are featuring ALCTS members of the Policy Corps. Today we’re speaking with Hannah Buckland, Director of Library Services, Leech Lake Tribal College, Minnesota.
What motivated you to apply to be a member of the Corps?
Libraries are social institutions; when we advocate for library services, we advocate for people. I look forward to being an active part of the network Policy Corps creates while providing advocacy tools for other library workers. Living in northern Minnesota and working in a tiny library can be isolating, so I really value these connections. The Policy Corps also affords the opportunity to bring the tribal college library perspective to the national platform. I am humbled to have landed in this role.
What is your past advocacy experience?
My library’s staff consists of me plus one other person, so local advocacy—in particular, assessing and articulating our local impact as full-time library workers—is a constant process. Very slowly, I’ve been coordinating a series of blog posts via Minitex to share information about Minnesota’s often overlooked, always underfunded tribal libraries. I also serve on a few local and regional library boards, the Minnesota Library Association’s Legislative Work Committee, and the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.
What policy issue did you focus on as part of your application?
I connected Net Neutrality to intellectual freedom, referring to the rights of all people to pursue and gather information without restriction. As society’s primary platform for research, education, communication, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and innovation, the open internet is a critical component of intellectual freedom. Net neutrality preserves intellectual freedom by legally prohibiting internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling Internet speeds, blocking access to certain websites, attaching premiums to certain websites, or otherwise discriminating against selected internet services for commercial reasons.
What policy issues do you think will be most important for ALCTS members to advocate for over the next 5 years? What strategies can ALCTS members use to advocate for these issues?
IMLS funding immediately comes to mind. Buried in LSTA, the Native American Library Services Basic Grant Program provides annual funding to tribes. The noncompetitive amount is small—$10,000 per tribe in the 2018 fiscal year—but it can make a big difference for a tribal library. The American Indian Library Association has been working to compile stories about the program’s impact. Beyond IMLS, everything coming out of the FCC—the elimination of Net Neutrality, the dismantling of the Lifeline program, the threats posed to E-Rate—warrants serious attention. To advocate for these issues, ALCTS members can stay informed (District Dispatch is a starting point), call their representatives again and again and again (I like 5 Calls), submit public comments on FCC proceedings, and encourage people in their networks to do the same as they are able.