Author Archives: Kara Malenfant

This Week’s Activities to Save Net Neutrality

Because the Internet Shouldn't Have a Slow Lane Libraries TransformFrom the ALA Washington Office District Dispatch blog:

This Thursday, December 14, 2017, the FCC is expected to vote on a proposal from Chairman Ajit Pai that would rollback the strong, enforceable net neutrality protections established in 2015. The meeting will be webcast, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm EST.

As John Lewis said, “Every voice matters, and we cannot let the interests of profit silence the voices of those pursuing human dignity.” The American Library Association (ALA) understands that net neutrality enables opportunities for all by protecting an open and accessible internet – so that every voice, idea, information seeker and person gets a chance to prosper using the dominant communications platform of our day.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the vote this week will likely be a giant step backwards, but we and our allies will continue to vehemently advocate for a neutral net. Here are a few things going on this week:

Putting the pressure on Congress
Advocates have asked members of Congress to step in, as overseers of the FCC, to stop the impending vote on Thursday. Thousands of calls and emails have been sent from across the country, including nearly 37,000 emails using the ALA’s library-specific action alert. The ALA also is one of more than 150 groups (including individual libraries!) that have signed a joint letter to House and Senate committee leaders.

Also yesterday, 21 Internet and tech leaders, headlined by Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf and Steve Wozniak, and including inventors, innovators and creators of many of the fundamental technologies of the Internet, sent a letter to Congress with their own concerns.

Wait for the FTC?
Proponents of the draft order that will be voted on this Thursday have claimed consumers will still be protected from potential internet service provider misbehavior by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But any day now, a federal court is expected to rule on a case that has serious implications for the FTC’s ability to help broadband consumers. At the end of last week, consumer groups and advocates including ALA asked the FCC to wait on any decision on net neutrality until this case is decided.

Making some noise
While we hope the efforts above will have an impact, advocates also are focused on activities to coincide with this week’s FCC meeting, including vigils, rallies and continued online engagement. Here are a few ways that you can add your voice:

  • Join Break the Internet Day by calling or emailing Congress via the ALA action alert on December 12.
  • Join protests online with some suggested social media messages on December 13 and 14:
    • Hey @AjitPaiFCC – America’s 120,000 libraries depend on equitable and robust access to the internet to serve our communities. We need #netneutrality!
    • .@FCC – Our libraries’ digital collections, podcasts, video tutorials, and more rely on an open internet. @AjitPaiFCC, keep #netneutrality!
    • #netneutrality is the First Amendment of the internet. @FCC, please protect the right to read, create and share freely without commercial gatekeepers.
    • OR tell us a story about what net neutrality means for your library and tag @ALALibrary, @FCC, @AjitPaiFCC

Stay tuned for additional actions if the FCC continues to ignore millions of people. Know that we would be far from game over as we seek relief in federal court–along with our many, many allied organizations.

Keep the Pressure on Congress to Protect Net Neutrality

Because ISPs Shouldn't have VIPs Libraries TransformFrom the ALA Washington Office District Dispatch blog:

Nearly 9,000 advocates have raised a library voice in favor of net neutrality over the past week, adding significantly to the outcry over the FCC’s draconian draft order rescinding 2015 protections. According to our action center dashboard, 27,319 emails have been sent and, thanks to you, every member of Congress has received at least one email from us. If you haven’t had a moment to write or call your member of Congress, it’s not too late. Go here.

In fact, some members have already spoken out in favor of preserving net neutrality. Maine Senator Susan Collins was the first Republican to oppose the draft order and has been joined by a few other Republicans and many Democrats. If you’re not sure where your member of Congress stands, you can check out the scorecard from our friends at Fight for the Future.

We also are working with other net neutrality allies to focus attention on Energy and Commerce Committee members, who most directly oversee the FCC. The ALA and ACRL have signed on to this letter. Your institution can join, as well, via this form. The deadline to sign on is Friday, December 8 at 12 p.m. EST.

We’ve seen great activity and received some good questions from you. The most frequent question is why we aren’t targeting grassroots action toward the FCC commissioners who have the most direct power over whether or not these draft rules will be adopted. The FCC was our first stop for activism, with ALA comments joining millions of others from librarians and other advocates. The majority of comments filed before the end of the public comment period that makes up the foundation for rulemaking favored preserving enforceable network neutrality rules. The draft order dismissed these arguments in favor of other legal and economic readings of the issue. The draft order already has been supported by a majority of Commissioners, so it is almost certain to pass unless there is a meaningful intervention.

One possibility is a legal argument to the FCC, which the ALA has supported in a joint letter. Since the FCC order abdicates enforcement to the Federal Trade Commission, this argument is new and highly relevant. Concerns about the integrity of the FCC’s public record for this rulemaking also are significant. But even these concerns may not move a highly partisan FCC. Congressional outcry is the most likely to bring a pause on the intended vote.

Please keep up the pressure and continue to share your questions and ideas for activism. We’ll be back with more news and action items next week.

Tell Congress Now to Save Net Neutrality

Because the Internet Shouldn't Have a Slow Lane Libraries TransformJust before Thanksgiving, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Pai announced his plan to roll back the 2015 Open Internet Order. This would do away with rules that limit the power of Internet Service Providers – like Verizon and Comcast – to slow websites, block mobile apps, or in any way control the information we access.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking specific services or websites. Strong, enforceable net neutrality rules, like the one Chairman Pai plans to dismantle, are critical to the functioning of modern libraries because we rely on the internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on this dangerous proposal at its meeting on December 14, and every indication suggests Chairman Pai has the three votes he needs to pass it.

Hearing enough strong disapproval from Congress could persuade the FCC to stall this disturbing plan. Call and email your members of Congress today (use the easy ALA action alert tool) and tell them you oppose Chairman Pai’s plans to dismantle net neutrality.

Read more about Chairman Pai’s plan in ALA’s District Dispatch blog. ALA and ACRL, together with other library and higher education groups, have long supported regulations classifying ISPs as “common carriers” as a means to compel those companies providing Internet access to keep a level playing field. ACRL has included net neutrality on its legislative agenda as a priority policy issue for several years.

NILOA and ACRL Release “Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration: A National Program Reveals Effective Practices”

Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration:The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) announces the release of “Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration: A National Program Reveals Effective Practices” in partnership with ACRL. The occasional paper was written by Kara J. Malenfant, ACRL Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives, and Karen Brown, professor in the School of Information Studies at Dominican University, Illinois. The full paper is available online.

Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration” synthesizes the results of ACRL’s Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success (AiA) program, which involved over 200 campus teams led by librarians designing, implementing, and evaluating an action-learning project that sought to strengthen the competencies of librarians in campus leadership and data-informed advocacy. The paper looks at the collaborative practices advanced by the AiA program (made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services) and explains how these practices promote assessment aligned with institutional priorities, encourage common understanding among stakeholder groups about attributes of academic success, produce meaningful measures of student learning, create a unified campus message about student learning and success, and focus on transformative and sustainable change.

Five particularly compelling AiA findings are:

  1. Students benefit from library instruction in their initial coursework;
  2. Library use increases student success;
  3. Collaborative academic programs and services involving the library enhance student learning;
  4. Information literacy instruction strengthens general education outcomes; and
  5. Library research consultations boost student learning.

“The Assessment in Action program was a groundbreaking examination of the impact of the library on student success and the furthering of institutional goals. This paper is a compelling look at why these practices worked and how important it is for librarians to collaborate with other stakeholders on campus,” says ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis.

Creating Sustainable Assessment through Collaboration” goes on to show how the AiA experience can serve as a framework for designing assessment approaches that build partnerships and generate results for improving student learning and success through action research, and that the program results demonstrate how libraries contribute to fostering broad student outcomes essential to contemporary postsecondary education. The assessment practices that emerged from the AiA projects can be implemented in a variety of institutional settings and with varying campus priorities.

“We are delighted to showcase the power of collaborative efforts to assess student learning and understand the diverse learning environment that emerged from the AiA projects. It is clear from these efforts that librarians are a valued and integral partner to enhancing student learning,” says NILOA Director Natasha Jankowski.

The report is available as a free PDF for download online.


Apply for ACRL Travel Scholarship to National Library Legislative Day (May 7-8, 2018)

National Library Legislative Day informational graphic, May 7-8, 2017, Washington, DCAre you interested in federal legislation and policy affecting libraries and your campus community? Are you willing to work with your members of Congress for change? ACRL needs you! We recognize that travel funding is tight, but know that academic librarians can make a difference by participating in National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington, D.C., May 7-8, 2018. To make this participation possible, ACRL is pleased to award $7,500 to reimburse travel expenses for individuals at up to $750 each to attend NLLD through a competitive application process, described below. A group of member leaders will review applications, due December 19, 2017.

During NLLD, librarians, library staff, and library supporters from around the country converge on Capitol Hill to meet with their federal representatives to advocate for the support of libraries and library-friendly legislation. The first day is dedicated to an orientation to advocacy, issue briefings, and a reception on Capitol Hill; the second day is reserved for visits to Congressional offices, organized by your state delegation.

At the ACRL 2017 Conference in Baltimore, we heard during a town hall meeting and grassroots writing sessions that ALA has only a few lobbyists for our nearly 60,000 members and one person is only one voice. In other words: we’re only as good as our members are engaged. Whether you travel to D.C. for NLLD or not, we urge you to dedicate yourself to learning to lobby and to commit yourself to regular sustained action. We need ACRL and ALA members, all of us, to join together in, “the fight of our generation” to preserve library funding and to speak up on other issues on the ACRL Legislative Agenda.

What is the award?
Travel scholarships at up to $750 each for individuals to attend NLLD May 7 and 8, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Who should apply?
Individuals applying to receive an ACRL NLLD scholarship must be members of ACRL, first-time attendees at NLLD, and apply by 6 pm (Eastern Daylight Time), Tuesday, December 19, 2017. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. Those selected to receive travel reimbursement must register for NLLD, make their own travel arrangements, and pay all associated costs. Reimbursable expenses may be up to $750 per person and consist of: NLLD registration, up to 3 nights lodging, travel (round trip, coach class airfare, train ticket, or mileage and parking), and $50 per diem for meals.

How do I apply?
To apply, please prepare the following materials. Applications must be submitted electronically as a single PDF document that includes:

  1. A statement addressing the following questions (two pages maximum for all):
    1. Clearly state that you meet the eligibility criteria: 1) that you are a current member of ACRL and 2) that this is your first time attending NLLD.
    2. Why do you want to attend National Library Legislative Day?
    3. What actions can be taken to advocate for library issues at the national level? Describe any advocacy efforts you have been involved in for libraries. (E.g., contacting the local or DC office for your members of Congress, writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper supporting libraries, working with your government relations staff (typically in the office of the president, provost or external affairs) or, inviting your members of Congress to your campus for a library tour, organizing an event and inviting a staff person from the local district office to speak at your library.)
    4. What impact do you hope the experience of attending NLLD will have on your capacity for continued legislative and policy advocacy at the federal level?
    5. How much do you anticipate you would request in reimbursement? (Estimate your travel costs and show your math. Eligible expenses are listed above under the section Who should apply?)
  2. Your resume.
  3. Names of two references who can attest to your interest in advocacy.

When is the deadline to apply?
The single PDF application must submitted via email apply by 6 pm (Eastern Daylight Time), Tuesday, December 19, 2017, to Barbara Petersohn, chair, ACRL Government Relations Committee, at

Members of the ACRL Government Relations Committee will review applications. The group will select travel scholarship recipients and notify all applicants by Tuesday, January 19, 2018.

If you have questions of any kind, please contact Barbara Petersohn at or 706-867-2921.

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