Marijke Visser | Movers & Shakers 2024—Advocates

Visser's work on E-Rate policy and technology equity has been a game-changer for communities across the country, including in tribal libraries, where she helped improve access to broadband.


Director, Library Development, Maine State Library


MLS, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, 2010


ALA Policy Perspectives: Built by E-Rate

Photo by Spencer Roberts 





Change Through Broadband

Not long after Marijke Visser arrived at library school with plans to become a children’s librarian, two policy classes shifted her career trajectory. “These courses put the ‘why’ and ‘how’ [of library services] into perspective for me,” she says. “The content and discussions reignited my commitment to working to change systemic and/or institutional inequities.”

Visser eventually spent 10 years at the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy, doing significant work to advance technology equity through the FCC’s E-Rate program. It has been a game-changer for communities across the country, such as the long-lasting outcome of developing tribally owned fiber networks that connect six Pueblo libraries in New Mexico.

“Now one of the Pueblos has used the fiber network to offer internet access to homes where no one had ever had home internet,” says Visser. This has rippled into other policy shifts at the federal level to improve broadband access for tribal libraries, and “is the thing I am most proud of,” she adds.

Currently Director of Library Development at the Maine State Library, Visser has implemented collaborations with the Maine Connectivity Authority and Governor’s Climate Council Equity Subcommittee, among other partnerships. She “truly illustrates [the] ability to leverage state and national resources to increase local capacity,” says State Librarian Lori Fisher. Bringing her skills to the national level, in 2023 Visser was named an ALA policy fellow, focusing on broadband and digital equity.

“There is an amazing library ecosystem in Maine,” says Visser, “and I know there are opportunities to leverage it to advocate for libraries at the state and federal level.”

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