School of Education and Human Development

PhD Candidate Receives American Library Association Honor

University of Southern Maine Public Policy PhD candidate, Sonya Durney

Public Policy PhD candidate, Sonya Durney, has been named to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Policy Corps. Durney, who is a student in the Public Policy with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy doctoral program, is a Scholarly Communication Research and Teaching Librarian at the University of New England’s Ketchum Library in Biddeford. Her expertise is in information literacy, research, library instruction, community engagement, group facilitation, market research, and public policy analysis.  

“I am honored to be part of the ALA Policy Corps,” says Durney. “Now is such an important time for libraries, policy-wise, as we navigate the unchartered territory of COVID-19. While libraries are able to provide many services virtually, we pride ourselves on being the heart of our communities. Libraries are where folks of all ages come to learn, from infant storytime; to after school homework assistance; to create resumes and apply for jobs; and so much more. Our communities need strong libraries, and libraries need strong library advocates. I am so thankful that the American Library Association provides this opportunity for librarians, from all library types, to learn from thoughtful leaders in our field, sharpen their advocacy skills, and bring these skills back to their communities. This work will dovetail nicely with my coursework in public policy at the Muskie School, where I plan to study library advocacy for my dissertation. I look forward to working with USM faculty throughout this process.”

Durney serves as the Maine Library Association’s (MLA) Legislative Chair and is one of only eight librarians selected for the ALA Policy Corp nationally. Durney was an exceptional candidate because her areas of expertise pertaining to national public policy align with the strategic goals of the ALA. “ALA is proud to welcome our third cohort of Policy Corps members,” said ALA President Wanda Brown. “As the number of Policy Corps members grows, so does the power and strength of our overall network for library advocacy across all library types. As our libraries--and the nation--struggle to respond to the current COVID-19 crisis, we know our advocacy for libraries and our values will be even more critical in the months of economic shock and recovery that will certainly follow.” 

The goal of the ALA Policy Corps is to create a cohesive body of policy experts at the beginning to middle of their careers in order to create long-standing membership and promote a positive impact on public policy issues at the federal level.