Category Archives: council

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!

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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…

Smart Investing @ Your Library

In the course of perusing my social feeds on a day off (today), I ran across a link to an NPR story titled: “What’s New At The Library? Financial Advice“.  Having somehow missed any info on this program, most likely due to my use of the “Mark all read” feature in Bloglines after Midwinter, I asked the Council list and got loads of information.

In case you, like me, managed to miss mention of this program; here are some details and some links to more information.

ALA has partnered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority‘s (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation to produce “Smart Investing @ your library®“.  The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (IEF) provides grants to “public libraries and library networks across the country, giving millions of library patrons and their families greater access to unbiased investing information and resources”.

Smart Investing @ your library®” is jointly administered by FINRA IEF and Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).

In 2008, 13 grants, totaling more than $853,000 were awarded to some great sounding programs in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Minnesota, Washington, Kansas, and Ohio.  

In 2009, 12 grants totaling almost $882,000 were awarded to more great sounding programs in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, and California.

Grant recipients will use the funds to implement a variety of programs and create resources designed to increase patrons’ access to and understanding of financial information. The programs target a diverse group of patrons—among them youth, adults, seniors, families, immigrants and low-income individuals.  The libraries will use a variety of technologies and outreach strategies, including traditional classroom formats and one-on-one education. The grantees will partner with community organizations including schools, universities, community centers and local governments to expand the impact of the services and resources enabled by the grants. Library patrons will be empowered to make smart financial decisions for both long-term investing and day-to-day money matters.

Program details for Smart Investing @ your library®

This sounds like a timely initiative, I’m glad someone in my Association made this happen & wish I’d heard of it sooner (so I could brag on their efforts sooner).  Yet another reason I didn’t know to explain why I am a proud ALA member.

ALA Council Interrogatives – featuring? Me :)

Yep, I’m running for a seat on the ALA Council again this Spring.

Why would I do such a thing? I answered a few similar questions in the video above; to sum up: I’m active, I enjoy the process (which is a little scary), I am given great ideas by you, my fellow ALA members, to bring up and discuss, and I really enjoy working to improve the Association for the membership and to recognize and support the work done by various member- and staff- groups within ALA furthering the mission of our Association which really is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

ALA TFoEMP Question 1 – Open Meetings

After much [seemingly “behind the veil” to non-task-force-members] researching and discussions, the ALA Task Force on Electronic Member Participation has developed some questions needing answers.  Question One concerns “Open Meetings.”  See the ALA Council List archive for the full message sent out to Council. (excerpted below)

If you have comments you would like me (as your Councilor at Large / vocal proxy) to make officially (whether on your behalf or in the aggregate) regarding this request for comments, I’ll be watching and participating in the comments below as well as in my various aggregated social media feeds.

So, some history and then the request (note the N.B. below the request) ::

The Open Meetings Policy originated around 1970 because the “library press” (I wonder which ones?) wanted to attend ALA Executive Board meetings.  “Open” and “Closed” are not defined in the policy and are not addressed in any “interpretations.”  No goals and/or reasoning for or against is provided by available historical documentation.  “However, there have always been limitations to the “reach” of the Open Meetings Policy, deriving from physical, logistical, and financial factors.” The Open Meetings policy has never been applied to between-meeting correspondence of any kind which is/was part of “regular work of the association“.

…the Task Force has concluded that expansion of electronic participation in association governance requires not a new policy, but a new Interpretation of the existing policy.

(which, to me, seems appropriate)

…the Task Force is asking for input from Councilors about what they believe the benefits of open meetings to be, what we should hope to achieve by having open meetings, and, if it is impossible at this time to implement “the purest form” of open meetings, what the nature of “open” means in an online environment, and what kinds of access to what kinds of information would be sufficient to satisfy our desire for openness in Association governance.

N.B. these caveats:

Specifically, this request for input is addressing “providing a mechanism for people who are not members of particular governance entities (committees, task forces, boards, etc.) to know what those entities are doing.”

Specifically *not* about electronic participation by members of these entities and *not* about electronic access to “non-meeting activities” of those governance entities.

ALA-APA at Annual 2008

Hm… two posts in a row with embedded gCals; maybe I’ll share the link this time for variety?

Lots of people wonder what ALA-APA (the ALA Allied Professional Association) is. Long story short, this is the group charged by ALA Council to “manage certification of individuals in specializations beyond the initial professional degree” and advocate for the “mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers.”

Anyway, ALA-APA is sponsoring a bunch of events at Annual; hopefully some of which will interest many of you. Catch you in Anaheim, if you’re going…