Ed. Note: Congrats Emily! We wish you the very best.
After more than 17 years leading ALA’s Washington Office, Emily Sheketoff has announced her retirement effective May 15.
During her tenure, Ms. Sheketoff has been at the forefront of issues involving libraries at the national level, such as advocating for new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act, lobbying for the Library Services and Technology Act, and fighting for privacy of library patrons.
“Emily Sheketoff has been a tireless fighter and ardent voice for libraries, librarians, and library professionals,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Because of her leadership and the hard work of her staff in DC, ALA has been a force for good in Washington and made a difference for libraries.”
Under Ms. Sheketoff’s guidance, immediately following September 11, 2001, ALA’s Washington Office was among the earliest groups fighting against provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act that compromised the privacy of library patrons. At the 2002 Midwinter Meeting, the Washington Office held the first in a series of briefing sessions for librarians to give them advice on protecting their patrons while complying with the PATRIOT Act.
Ms. Sheketoff also worked on increasing participation in National Library Legislative Day, and attendance has now increased to approximately 400 people each year. This has been accomplished by the introduction of “newbie training” to raise the comfort level of new participants and efforts to get the ALA Division leadership involved by creating special schedules for each division based on their issues.
After 11 years of working to get libraries included as beneficiaries of federal workforce funding, the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act passed in 2014 with language specifically including libraries as eligible for the funds, and the Department of Labor sent out a Notice of Employment Training to every state department of labor telling them to reach out to their local public library and include them in the delivery of services.
Passed in 2015, the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes new provisions that authorize school districts to include in their local plans how they will assist schools in developing effective school library programs to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement. Inclusion of this language reflected years of hard work and represented a significant legislative accomplishment.
In addition to lobbying for significant growth in funding for the Library Services and Technology Act, the Washington Office was instrumental in the creation of a new Museum and Library Services Act and increasing funds for the federal E-rate program, which supports internet access for thousands of public and school libraries nationwide.
At the 2007 Annual Conference in DC, Ms. Sheketoff offered a Lobbying Day on the Hill, which was so successful that in 2010, ALA had a rally on the Senate grounds followed by 2,000 library supporters walking the halls promoting library issues.
In 2016, she worked with Presidential personnel on filling the vacancy of the Librarian of Congress with a qualified librarian. Once there was a nominee, ALA worked effectively to help get Dr. Carla Hayden confirmed.
Also in 2016, for the second year in a row, The Hill announced that ALA was one of the Top Ten Most Effective Lobbying Groups because of ALA’s efforts around FOIA.