Category Archives: ALA

On the Ribbon Thing

Speaking of Ribbons, let me clue you in…

Many moons ago I met Michael Golrick, when I was being oriented to ALA as an ALA Committee Intern. He had a long string of ribbons (and I’d seen others in the hallways with a few ribbons) and was able to talk extensively about the¬†participation¬†they represented. I then set out to “out do” Michael by going and collecting the ribbons for which I qualified.

The rules I follow, which I think are adapted from what Michael said while explaining his ribbons, are: an ALA badge ribbon “counts” when it is at least one of the following

  • an ALA unit of which you are a member
  • an ALA- or library-related ribbon which describes something you support or agree with
  • from a vendor which is used by your library
  • from a vendor which you’d like to use at your library
  • from friends which has some meaning for you
  • and, *no duplicates*

I think those are the main criteria…

Anyway, join the fun, get engaged, grab some ribbons and join Kate in her quest to build a longer ribbon chain than mine ūüėČ

(and if you acquire an extra Aaron Dobbs ribbon from #ala12… I’m¬†interested¬†in having one)

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The Place Where the Wild Things Are

The Wild Things arrived en masse, today – Friday is officially the day for ALA Annual Preconferences, but more and more meetings are seeping in to the schedule.

Currently I’m maintaining my 4sq Mayorality (of #ala12 as well as my hotel) — now you know what’s *really* important, right?

This morning was LITA Board I (which we streamed) where we handled some administrivia and held a strategy session which resulted in a new, improved Vision statement and an early draft of a new Mission statement.

Halfway through LITA Board, I noticed Jason Griffey was wearing a red ribbon with my name in gold on it. When I asked, he claimed that it was in his registration packet when he picked up his badge. While I disbelieved, I was also more than half-convinced…

Lunch was split with the OCLC Americas Regional Council and Member Meeting update and an invited strategy session with Maureen Sullivan’s incoming ALA Committee Chairs. The¬†strategy¬†session was energizing and motivating (for all of the attendees, imho) and I got good notes for that one! (which I’ll post at some point)

While wandering the halls, seeking conversation, I ran into several more folks with me on their ribbon trail — I got several different stories about how they got theirs… ranging from “I found it on the ground (or “on a table”), figured I know you, and stuck it on my ribbon trail” (which is totally¬†believable… no really… #snark), to “in my registration packet,” to “the person I got it from swore me to secrecy and made me promise to tell you that you can’t have one.” I appreciate this last one (as it *is* totally¬†believable).

Then I hit the Emerging Leaders Poster Session and was again struck by the total awesomesauce on display. If these folks are the future leaders of ALA, we are in a really good place as an association. While here, I met even more people wearing “Aaron Dobbs” ribbons (all of whom would NOT tell me the real story) and began to get freaked out about this ribbon thing…

Next up, I hit the Exhibits Opening Reception and made it about halfway through my “list of vendors to harass” before they shut the lights off and sent us packing.

Then #ALAPlay where a bunchof fun people play a crapton of games – board games (such as Hamster Roll), card games (FLUXX!), and a “just built last night” game (tentatively¬†called “Joust”) with hacked Wii controllers where the players try to keep their light lit while causing others to shake their controller and kill their lights… it was pretty neat.

Then more talking, solving the problems of libraryland over beverages, now this post, and soon to bed… “for a functional #ala12 Saturday”

Wild Rumpus Day One

Wild Rumpus Day One, for me (day minus one for many others), has been my least-booked… a nice warm-up.

The morning started with sitting in on the Freedom to Read Foundation Board Orientation (I thought it was a general orientation to FTRF) and then sitting in the first half of the FTRF Business meeting.

*pst* in case you didn’t know, the Freedom to Read Foundation ROCKS.

There are something like 6 major 1st amendment cases FTRF is following which in litigation and one recently decided “unpublished” but favorable decision.¬†I’d love to give you the citations and statuses, but I’ve lost the handout listing them. ūüė¶

Spent the early afternoon talking and laughing with friends in the mini-park just outside the convention center – the best part of conference… plus the ‘hallway’ was outside and it was very comfy (esp. compared to the weather at home)

Then back to the FTRF Reception to celebrate their (our, since I joined last year) activities and the people involved in FTRF efforts.

I need to take better notes during the day, this is really breezy and way less detailed than I’d hoped to report out…

ALA Membership Dues, imho

In my view, raising dues is not a sustainable answer.

  • We cannot become/remain solvent by continually raising the member-dues rate(s).
  • Membership demographics suggest that ALA will see a rapid decline over the next several years (as the late 1960s and 1970s membership boom retires out)
  • More revenue-producing educational programs and more high-quality publications (plus promotional outreach) are where our efforts must go.
  • In addition to increasing possible program and publications revenue, ALA leadership and membership really need to revisit the definition of the Association and each Division and Round Table.

ALA (and each Division/Round Table individually) leadership and membership need to revisit and answer the questions below:

  • What is ALA? (and each Division/Round Table individually?)
  • Or what does ALA (and each Division/Round Table individually) Do?
  • Does the differentiation created by [each Division/Round Table individually] still make sense?

Some other questions along the same lines:

  • Is there anything we (ALA or¬†Divisions/Round Tables) can stop doing?
  • What is/are our core focus/foci and what efforts that must continue?
  • what must we discontinue in order to be able to keep covering our core efforts?

If we cannot define each Division/Round Table individually enough to answer the above questions, should we explore merger options? There is a really neat list of ALA units and what they focus upon on ALA Connect, check out ALA Connect by Category.

I’ve tossed a lot of questions out there for consideration — I wish I had answers to go with them… Ideas welcome!

ALA Membership Dues and You

For those not in the know (like me until a week or so ago)…¬†ALA has begun (again) discussion on strategies for adjusting dues.

The last time ALA has discussed this was back around 2006 when people started complaining about the dues structure and how “one-size for all” was unfair to certain groups of the membership. The entity which discussed this back then was the “Presidential Task Force on the Graduated Dues Study” (I was a member of the Reactor Panel to this TF).

The contemporary discussion¬†will be framed with this document [link corrected]¬†(or a newer version) as a starting point. This topic will be on the agendas of the ALA Membership Committee, the ALA Membership Promotion Task Force, BARC, and Finance and Audit. The four ALA Annual meetings¬†I’ve linked¬†here are Open Meetings (ALA Policy 7.4.x). Feedback¬†from these discussions will be incorporated into a revised proposal that will be presented to BARC and the Executive Board, probably at their Fall meeting.

If you are interested in the background data & discussions, I encourage you to attend these meetings and report out what you hear (alas, I’m already triple-plus-overbooked, but I hope to make at least part(s) of these meetings).

Dues, I’ve learned over the years, is a sticky wicket – there are more opinions about dues than there are paying or lapsed members.

ALA Council Patterns and Churn

Based on an email exchange over on the ALA Council list, I did some noodling around (my wife would call it procrastinating on my tenure documentation) with Diedre Conkling’s ALA Council service records spreadsheet over on the Feminist Task Force Wiki and responded to the discussion [text of my response below].

I wonder what sort of discussion non-ALA-Councilors would have about the discussion (hence the plethora of links above for background discovery)

Generally, or, what the numbers below say to *me*, it takes ~10 years to change the general mind-set of ALA Council on a given topic. It takes ~7 years to change the general mind set of the Exec Bd.

This roughly aligns with my observations over the last seven or so years. For example, in 2009 Council passed the TFoEMP recommendations — many of which were originally proposed to Council, piecemeal, at least a decade earlier (these proposals were already at least five years old when I started observing Council around 2003/4 – I defer to longer-serving / institutional-memory types for the accurate dates)

Through discussions and observation with EB members and former members, I think the Exec Board was ready to move many of the “piecemeal precursors to the TFoEMP recommendations” forward around 2006, but were aware of Council’s still-simmering resistance to these recommendations, which resulted in the TFoEMP creation and their ultimate passage.

Then I went a little preachy, what can I say? *shrug*

I’m not convinced today’s libraries and their information environment can withstand ten years of resistance to new ideas and technologies from the leading voice for libraries and library users when the life span of some technologies is less than 3 years from cutting-edge to obsolescence.

Am I saying three year terms are too long? Hahaha, no
Am I saying there should be term limits? Again, no.
Am I saying there needs to be better representation from people who leverage today’s technologies and/or think about tomorrow’s upcoming technologies? Yes. Unequivocally, yes.

A person’s age does not matter.
A person’s amount of experience with ALA / Governance does not matter
(though time-in-grade may help at the Exec Board level).

Awareness of the:
* possible futures ahead for library and information organizations,
* fights necessary to ensure encoding, retention, dispersion/aggregation, archiving, findability, use, and creation of information and their supporting data structures,
* potentials for leading or guiding discussion in the near term and the long term for the benefit of libraries and users, and
* awareness of how the results of short- and near-term decisions and policies enacted today can affect the usability of data and information far into the future;
These are key concerns which every member of Council and the Exec board should be able to address in some facet or another.

Right now, ALA is still a strong consolidation of voices – we have 60,000+ members.

How effective we are in today’s situation(s) will affect how many voices we can claim to speak for in the future.
We have a growing number of people who are well-embedded in today’s information culture. We may not like where today’s information culture is going, but it *is* going to continue to go somewhere.

We can attempt to fight it and be rolled under the wave, or we can leap on a surfboard and ride the wave, bobbing and weaving around obstacles, but still serving as a consolidated voice for libraries and library users.
That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?

The ALA mission comes to mind again:
“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.”

I’m interested to hear what you think about the requirements for the leadership of ALA (whether you’re a member or not) – what is more important in councilors or Executive Board members:

  • experience with governance?
  • awareness of current and/or future challenges/opportunities?
  • popularity?
  • ability to verbalize well?
  • ability to inform or prioritize efforts?
  • what else?

Thanks for reading…