Faculty expert invited to discuss future of Library of Congress

April 04, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State faculty member has been invited to participate in a panel discussion about priorities for the Library of Congress as part of the American Library Association’s inaugural National Policy Convening in Washington, D.C.

The two-day event, set for April 12-13, will feature three panels focused on important, long-range topics — among them “Future Directions for the Library of Congress,” a discussion that will include Sascha Meinrath, the Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State.

In addition to his role at Penn State, Meinrath serves as director of X-Lab, an innovative think tank focusing on the intersection of vanguard technologies and public policy. Meinrath is a renowned technology policy expert and is internationally recognized for his work over the past two decades as a community Internet pioneer, social entrepreneur and angel investor.

He was elected as an Ashoka Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship in 2012, and has been named to the Time magazine “Tech 40” as one of the most influential figures in technology, to the “Top 100” in Newsweek’s Digital Power Index, and is a recipient of the Public Knowledge IP3 Award for excellence in public interest advocacy. 

The Library of Congress has a broad mission. The institution has a primary responsibility to provide research and information services to the Congress itself. But going back to the library’s founding in 1800, based on the personal collection of Thomas Jefferson, the Library of Congress is also the de facto national library of the United States and includes the U.S. Copyright Office.

What are the proper and needed roles for the Library of Congress in an increasingly digital society? What is the appropriate balance and emphasis among its varied public service missions and many stakeholders needs and interests?

Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the strategic plan for the Library of Congress provide a foundation for discussion. It is an opportune time to focus on priorities for the Library of Congress because of the recent retirement of James Billington, the Librarian of Congress from 1987 to 2015, and the nomination of Carla Hayden as his successor.

Along with Meinrath, the panel includes Robert Darnton, a Harvard professor and university librarian emeritus, and Katie Oyama, senior policy counsel for Google. Alan Inouye, director of the association’s Office for Information Technology Policy, will moderate the discussion.

Registration for the National Policy Convening is free, and may be completed online. The event is being chaired by Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded on October 6, 1876, during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, its mission is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

  • Sascha Meinrath

    Sascha Meinrath

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated April 05, 2016