Tag Archives: ALA

Membership: how to pitch it?

Thinking back to Emily’s 3 tiered pyramid

Tier 3:  the dues-paying, insanely active committee serving members
Tier 2:  the dues-paying, conference attending and sort of active members
Tier 1:  the dues-paying yet not really active members

I’d like to bring attention to two other “groups”

The “former members who decided to not renew” and the “potential members who have never joined”

Not to start a gripe-fest, but:
Why did the former members lapse?
Why have the potential members not joined?

Without knowing why people have left or not joined in the first place, how does a very large and very diversely interested association (re-)appeal to people who are not members?
What are the strengths of size/diversity?
What are the weaknesses?

Without completely ignoring the folks outside the pyramid, how can the Association appeal to the Tier 1 members to become more involved?

ALA is working to provide an online meeting space for members to organize their activities; ALA Connect – it’s in beta right now.  I suspect this may be the best start in this direction ALA has yet taken.

imho, one of the keys to the success of this endeavor will be the ease in which members can share out their activities in their myriad social feeds and draw in more interest and participation. I hope to see this work well for the association

Membership: what’s in it for me?

Membership was one of the themes Emily mentioned over in her post on In the Library with a Lead Pipe

Q: What do you (the reader) get out of your membership in ALA?
A: Sorry, you’ll have to answer that one for yourself. *grin*

Q: What do I get out of my membership in ALA?
A: I personally feel one gets out what one puts in.  I put in ~$350 in membership dues (ALA, ACRL (CLS+ULS), LITA, RUSA (BRASS+MARS), GODORT, LHRT, NMRT) plus my personal time for serving on several committees (OITP Advisory and ALA Council, currently) and other initiatives (I volunteer as an ACRL Legislative Advocate and am doing some ALA Web Advisory Committee activities, on the side, too).  I’ve been an ALA Committee Intern (OITP Advisory Committee) and an ALA Committee Virtual Member (ALA Membership Committee) in addition to “regular” committee memberships.  I get loads of positive feedback as well as self-approval for my activities in ALA.  Sure, I would rather not have to pay the dues to do this; but our dues support so much more than what we individually do.

Q: What do libraries (and librarians, all library employees, and library patrons/users) get out of our membership in ALA?
A: My perception is “LibraryLand” (encompassing everyone listed in this Question plus everyone these folks interact with in the course of the day) gets huge benefits.  and now I’ll switch to bulleted list format for brevity:

  • ALA Washington Office

The ALA Washington Office is a tremendous asset to LibraryLand as a whole. With a relatively small staff, the WO really provides more bang for the buck than most of the Divisions.  The WO provides a needed focus for LibraryLand voices as well as spearheads our efforts to affect and effect public policy on behalf of all of us.

  • ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom / Freedom to Read Foundation / etc.

How to sum up what OIF, FTRF, and all these other programs which tirelessly advocate for our rights to free inquiriy, to privacy of circulation and purchasing records, to teaching people to read, and everythings else they do?  They do the stuff I feel is important but for which I have not the time or energy to spare. My dues (plus other donations) go toward their efforts for which I wish I had time.

  • Consolidated administrative / overhead costs for areas each of us find [most interesting/most important]

Contrary to some folks, I figure the Divisions actually get a good value for the dues they don’t have to charge their members.  “BigALA” takes the flack for high dues and the Divisions can focus their dues income into projects deemed worthy without really having to worry about full-time funding for all the positions “BigALA” provides.

  • Feel connected

Connection to a very large group of people who put their money where their mouths are, supporting member and Association activities which further the advancement of “library” and thereby “public good” issues and which aim to thwart agendas which do not serve the public at large

That last bullet is really loosey-goosey and wide open to interpretation, of course.

In my view Information Policy is a vital battleground these days and libraries/librarians/library employees/library users all need to be engaged with protecting users’ rights to use what we have legally acquired in digital format.  We also need to be in the forefront of protecting the rights of future users of today’s created-digital content.

In other members’ views our attention should be on best practices for reference, or the future of cataloging, or data modeling, or a host of other valid concerns.

The beauty of being an ALA member is: at the macro level your dues go toward supporting all the above and more; plus everyone’s dues go toward supporting people acting upon your personal concerns.  On a micro level, hopefully you are one of the people taking action on your concerns, if not your concerns might not be fully addressed.  I’m in there advocating for changes I see are needed, many others are in there advocating for the changes they feel are important.  More people advocating for and supporting results which benefit all of us means a stronger voice for our collective concerns.

More members = louder voice (we just have to be sure our collective voice is focused on promoting the services we can, do, and could provide for the public good)

Brainstorming about ALA & Lead Pipes

Over at In the Library with the Lead Pipe Emily Ford posted a nice long detailed post on ALA & Membership. She described a 3 tier model to describe members’ participation in pyramid form which is a good conceptual framework on which to hang ideas and discussion points.

The largest group, the bottom of the pyramid, are Tier 1; people “who pay dues and who have minimal investment in ALA as a professional organization.”  A smaller group, the middle of the pyramid , are Tier 2; people “who pay dues, attend conferences and are nominally to marginally involved in the organization.” The smallest group, the top of the pyramid, are Tier 3; people “who pay dues, belong to divisions and serve on committees.”

I have a lot of not easy to summarize thoughts on many of the points there & plan to post my responses in several posts which will hopefully make sense in the end.  Wish me luck and feel free to suggest things for me to take back to ALA in the form of discussion points and/or recommendations.

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.

CopyNight DC

1. The ALA Washington Office will host the DC CopyNight meetup on Tuesday, August 5, 2008. The event will run from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.  There will be food, refreshments, and free copyright sliders.

Discussion topics: Georgia State copyright lawsuit and other current copyright news and issues.

If you’re interested, please take a minute to RSVP so we know roughly how many people are coming. The ALA Washington Office is located at 1615 New Hampshire Ave NW, 2 blocks from Dupont Circle. Hope to see you there!

Cribbed from the District Dispatch Blog

OCLC Symposium: The Mashed Up Library #ala2008

Finally deciphered my notes from the *one* “continuing education” session I was able to attend in my otherwise jam-packed ALA Committee(s) (over)work schedule at #ala2008.

The OCLC Symposium: “The Mashed Up Library” (teaser and write up at It’s All Good)

Great introduction with a mental-state-setting creative exercise:
1. What is your Greatest Resource?
2. What is your Greatest Challenge?
3. What if… (dangerous ideas)
*We stopped cataloging?
*We participated fully with the FBI? (Sienfeld’s Library Cop)
*We mashed up Connexion with WoW = WorldCat of Warcraft

Innovation =
conversion of novelty to value
(novelty to whom? & value for whom?)
means to an end
is not what innovators offer -> it’s what clients/customers/patrons adopt
(from creation of choice -becoming-> value from use)

Mashup =
Interoperability between datasets, between institutions, between library services

Ask users “What is the most innovative thing you think we do for you?”
(put on thick skin for the usual answer: “Library” does not equal innovative in users’ views)

What is (and/or what should be) the most important product of the library?
What institutional innovations and adaptations best get the library to the goal of the most important product of the library?

Competition, like innovation, is a means to an end
it’s about perceived value from choice

How do [users/user communities] brand the library as a competitor?
Who are the library’s competitors?

Learn from the “lead users”
Who are our lead users?

With whom do we want to collaborate to create value? & Why?
With whom *should* we collaborate? & Why?

We should market our “best” internal disagreements
Make the users part of the discussion, market and make all points of view available for further discussion

Establish a “librar-atory” that attracts talent and inspire hypotheses
Publicize our R&D efforts

Success will come from taking the path of maximum advantage.

That’s the extent of my notes, I haven’t taken time to reflect on the main message, but I did find a streaming video of the session via David Lee King’s writeup (*sigh* have to use IE from this page to get the video) — which I’ll review when I can get out of my hamster wheel — to help me draw some conclusions.

Mostly it’s a set of questions we, library staff, faculty, and users, should answer or at least discuss. I think the discussion is the more important activity; answers would be nice, but “answers” implies a static state which I don’t expect to see in libraries for a long time 🙂

PS I wrote this up for a quick presentation at the staff meeting this morning & asked folks to do the creative exercise questions on paper — I’ll combine everyone’s responses (and share the aggregate after I ask the library faculty to do the same in our 1st faculty meeting of Fall Semester)

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…

wikified ALA Council Resolution proposals

In case you didn’t know, I’m an ALA Council junkie. Back when I wasn’t a Councilor (all of 6 months ago as well as years prior) I would still attend the Council sessions and listen in, occasionally comment from the peanut gallery, and sometimes stroll through the Councilors’ seats talking to people I know or would like to know based on their comments on issues in which I was/am interested.

One of the things I noticed (aside from the coffee, which I don’t drink – blech) was there’s no way for a member (who wasn’t at the Council session) to know what kinds of discussion and other considerations
took place before any votes. Parliamentary procedure requires an opportunity for discussion before a formal vote is taken. The Council minutes and Councilor voting histories (not on the web) are all well and good, but which Councilors made cogent points or shared a good story supporting one action or another? What story might have been shared? All that community interaction is currently lost.

While wearing my (soon to be doffed) LITA Web Coordinator for Committees hat, I got involved in a process to draft up a resolution from the ALA Website Advisory Committee (WAC) requesting the already retained “rough draft” transcripts of ALA Council sessions be posted to a members-only web page. A no-brainer, for me.

Knowing the hive-mind will come up with more ideas and catch errors, etc., I wikified the the text of a resolution Billie Peterson-Lugo, George Porter, and I worked up at the end of the WAC meeting at midwinter. And, lo, there was much activity after it was announced on the WAC and Council email lists.

Finally getting to my point… Please take a look at the proposed resolutions (1 for Council Transcripts & 1 for Council Session Recordings/Streaming) and share any insights you have on them.

Heck, while you’re at it, leave a comment here telling me this is something you want or what you’d rather have instead.

Virtual Library Day on the Hill

The ALA Washington Office will host Virtual Library Day on the Hill at the ALA Annual Conference.

Virtual Library Day on the Hill will take place on Tuesday, July 1 from 8 a.m. to noon. Conference attendees will have the chance to both email and fax their Members of Congress on important library issues and learn how they can register to vote, using computer terminals located on the exhibit floor.

If you’re familiar with CapWiz, ALA WO’s Legislative web tracking service, please consider volunteering to help new CapWiz users — details about this on the District Dispatch post above.