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Nina Lindsay's picture

Online Board Meeting: Equity ALSC Membership Pilot

As a result of ALSC Board action on the Diversity in ALSC Task Force’s final recommendations at Annual Conference 2017,  I appointed the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion within ALSC Implementation Task Force this fall, and they convened in mid-October. Co-chairs Kirby McCurtis and Hanna Lee worked quickly with the group (including Board liaison Vicky Smith) to prioritize their work, as outlined in their Dec 15th report (attached).

After initial meetings, including with ODLOS director Jody Gray, they have proposed for immediate action--among the recommendations they are charged to implement--recommendation 5.4, “Create a scholarship fund to support visible minorities’ ALSC membership for up to 2 years if they serve on an ALSC Committee.”  The budget we approved at Annual allocates funds for this project, as directed during our Strategic Plan Implementation discussion.

After reviewing the proposal with staff, I am bringing this to the Board’s attention for immediate discussion and potential action.   The committee appointment process timeline puts urgency on launching the pilot, to ensure that Jamie has scholarship recipient volunteer forms in time to consider for his spring appointments.

I applaud and thank the task force for their fast work, and thank our Board members in advance for giving some quick but thoughtful attention to this proposal.

I call to order this online meeting of the ALSC Board of Directors.  Please indicate your presence by beginning discussion or otherwise adding a comment below, so that we can establish quorum.

Timeline for this meeting:

  • Tuesday, Jan 2 -  Friday, Jan 12, Preliminary discussion of the draft proposal (below).  I invite EDI task force co-chairs Kirby McCurtis and Hanna Lee (or their designees from the task force) to participate in our preliminary discussion as needed.

  • By Tuesday, Jan 16, I will present a formal Board Action Request from the task force.

  • Tuesday Jan 16 -  Monday Jan 22, last preliminary discussion, invitation of a motion, final discussion and voting.

Preliminary Discussion Open:

Below, I am copying the entire draft proposal, followed by some questions I’ve submitted to Kirby and Hanna just today, based on initial review of the proposal by Aimee, Jamie and myself.  Please add your thoughts and questions.  

Proposed Equity ALSC Membership Pilot program details (from the task force report)

Through the Equity ALSC Membership program, ALSC affirms its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion by seeking to engage new generations of racially and ethnically diverse librarians.

Thirty-five one-year ALSC membership scholarships will be awarded to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander library professionals who commit to service within ALSC and demonstrate a capacity for future leadership. Scholarship recipients who accept an appointment or election to committee service will receive a free second year of ALSC membership. Applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis in order to reduce barrier for qualified applicants.


Applicants must:

Identify as American Indian/First Nations, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander

Plan to volunteer for ALSC service if selected. Learn more about volunteering here: http://www.ala.org/alsc/volunteer

Not have previously served on an ALSC committee

Additional program information:

This program will increase visible minority membership by recruiting and paying for those memberships, and simultaneously encourage committee participation by incentivizing volunteer service with a second year of paid membership.

This fund will award 35 scholarships starting in early 2018 for a total of $3,500 if every recipient is successfully appointed to a committee. Applications will be made available in the early spring of 2018, as soon as possible following approval by the Board. The Vice President/President Elect will be given a list of recipient names and qualifications to aid in the appointment process. Applicants need not have been members of ALSC before as the goal is to increase visible minority membership, but current members that are not active on committees are eligible as well. Additionally, the scholarship applicants do not need to be librarians or hold an MLIS. The Task Force wants to cast as wide a net as possible, and there may be people in other positions—library staff, book retail, students, teachers, retirees, etc.—who could be great ALSC members but who aren't currently professional librarians. Scholarships will awarded on a rolling basis, closing whenever all scholarships have been awarded.

The application will request applicants’ contact information, a resume, as well as answers to the following prompts:

Discuss your commitment to children’s library service

Describe your service and/or leadership any other professional, educational, or social association of which you are or were a member

The scholarships will be promoted on ALA, ALSC and other divisional social media platforms as well as through regional and state library association announcements. There will be a heavy focus on targeting organizations with diverse memberships such as EMIERT, APALA, AILA, BCALA, CALA and REFORMA. Graduate school programs will also be included in marketing efforts.



I’ve submitted the following questions to Kirby and Hanna just today, based on initial review of the proposal by Aimee, Jamie and myself:

  • Please outline a schedule for the roll out, and include an analysis of staff impact, in regards to promotion, application review, processing memberships, and prompting recipients to submit volunteer forms.

  • What happens if scholarship applicants have already paid for their 2018 dues?

  • Will the task force be reviewing/making decisions on the applications? Prompting recipients to submit volunteer forms?

  • What happens if a recipient does not receive an appointment?  Will the task force be tracking recipients during their gift membership?

  • Committee appointments are 2 yrs long, but would start some months into the 2 yr membership; would recipients understand that by committing to a committee appointment they are committing to renew their membership themselves for the 3rd year?

  • Please include metrics for evaluation

  • The term "visible minorities" feels broader than what is indicated in the pilot; should we state specifically this is for racial and ethnic diversity?

Mary Voors's picture


Amy Sears's picture

Good questions raised. Also wondering about the metrics for determining  how a candidates will "demonstrate a capacity for future leadership" and  also not quite sure that "Applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis in order to reduce barrier for qualified applicants" seems more that it rewards those who jump on the opportunity for good or ill, just recalling that the when ALSC offered the student gift memberships-granted not with as limited a pool-it seemed that ALSC  got over 100 applications in less than 24 hours.

Nina Lindsay's picture

Amy, I agree this is an important question to resolve.  I recall that the Student Gift Membership Task Force had specific reasons for the "first-come first-served" process, based on effectiveness of other similar programs: http://connect.ala.org/files/DOC%2019%20ALSC%20Student%20Gift%20Membership%20Task%20Force%20Final%20Report.pdf

I do think the SGMTF was surprised at how quickly those memberships went, and will be evaluating the effectiveness of the method, though that will take a little while.

I think it would be helpful here to clarify whether the task force intends to truly take all-comers first-come, first-served, or what metrics will be used to screen applicants to ensure they "demonstrate a capacity for future leadership."


Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President



Sue McCleaf Nespeca's picture

Present --- no additional questions than those posted. 

Sue McCleaf Nespeca Email: sue@kidlitplus.com

Karen MacPherson's picture



Paula Holmes's picture


Christine Caputo's picture


Amy Koester's picture


Jamie Naidoo's picture

Present and ready to discuss. :)

Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Ph.D.
Foster-EBSCO Endowed Professor
Univ of AL - SLIS
513 Gorgas Library – Box 870252
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0252

Jenna Nemec-Loise's picture


Jenna Nemec-Loise
Division Councilor
Association for Library Service to Children


Amy Koester's picture

I'm really excited about this proposed program.

I echo the questions about the first-come, first-served style of awarding applicants--if I'm remembering our past board discussions accurately, we've spoken a bit about how that style was perhaps not the best for the Student Gift Membership initiative, in part because we hadn't necessarily anticipated such high demand. 35 memberships as part of this program could also go quickly. Is there any consideration from the project team if and how they might use the application system to ensure all who are interested have a chance at receiving the award, even if they cannot apply at the moment they see the advertisement? I'd hate for us to favor those who have more immediate access to the internet and time for filling out an application. Was the idea of a set period for applications (say, 2-4 weeks, as with some micro-grant applications) considered by the project team? More broadly, what different application strategies were considered, and how was first-come, first-served arrived at as the preferred?

I'm also curious to see responses to the questions posted by Aimee, Nina, and Jamie regarding how the data from the project will be collected and its efficacy evaluated. Are there any plans to track participation in ALSC beyond the award period?

Thanks to the task force for doing such quick work on a big program!

Paula Holmes's picture

A big thanks to the Task Force, I look forward to their responses.  I like, Amy K., am curious about "any plans to track participation in ALSC beyond the award period?"  

Karen MacPherson's picture

Yes, a big thanks to the Task Force! I agree with Amy's concern that "first come, first served" might unfairly favor those with limited Internet access. But I also wonder how workable it is, esp. on a fast turnaround basis, to figure out criteria for screening applicants to ensure they "demonstrate a capacity for future leadership." Perhaps a middle path might be doing a *lot* of publicity about the program BEFORE the start of the application period, highlighting the date when applications will begin to be accepted. That might at least give more people an equal chance at applying, even if we stick with "first-come, first served." Perhaps the Task Force force could consider this possibility? 

And Nina, thanks for the list of your thoughtful, practical questions -- I think they are all good questions for the Task Force.

Vicky Smith's picture

As board liaison to the task force, I have to echo, in spades, all the accolades for their hard work. We all knew this was not an easy task, and as the task force has dug into it, complexities have seemed to proliferate. 

One question that has come up over and over is that of funding. I think it's important that the board understands the difficulty of designing a program that's meant to have long-term impacts when there is only one year of funding for it. I have had many conversations with Paula, who has gamely tried to make my very resistant brain understand fiscal rules. ("Tell me again if we can reserve some money for next year?") If she hasn't succeeded, it is absolutely not her fault.

Generalizing from a particular of one (me), I think that it would help everybody in the discussion to hear those fiscal rules from Paula and/or Aimee so we have a real handle on the limitations the committee is working within. To use a literary metaphor, we are asking them to write a haiku that will have the same narrative effect as a Homerian epic. 

We, as a board, need to understand that however mightily the task force works (and they are working mightily indeed), this is an effort that will require ongoing support in order to bear the fruit we hope to see. Exactly how this ongoing support is to be achieved is a question I have no good answers for. There are so many contingencies at play that the task force has no control over--notably but not exclusively, whether a member receives an appointment and what kind of appointment it is--that a one-year pilot program that yields meaningful results is extremely difficult to design. 

I say this not to be an Eeyore but because I know that until I got into the weeds with the task force, it all seemed quite clear-cut to me. 


Nina Lindsay's picture

Vicky, I will let Paula or Aimee jump in to add on here, but here is my understanding:

The Board approves ALSC's budget annually.  Within this current FY that we authorized at Annual, we set aside funds for as-yet-undeveloped projects in service of the EDI recommendations, so that we could move if necessary on proposals within this fiscal year.

A Board action request for a long-term funded project should include all costs, and their duration.  The Board must take long-term fiscal impacts into consideration in approving recommendations.  An example is the student gift membership task force that I referenced above, which recommended two years of funding.   The Board in approving that recommendation, in consultation with the fiscal officer and budget committee, was basically saying: yes, we commit to this project and understand that means we need to commit these funds in a future budget.   The budget committee works under that direction to plan future budgets for the Board's approval.

So I think there's some semantics involved in the word "commit."  We as a Board can make commitments to longer term projects where we see that it is both fundamental to our strategic goals and fiscally sound...  we'll still have to approve the overall budget annually.  

Does this address your question?

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President



Nina Lindsay's picture

Vicky, re-reading your comment, here's another and possibly shorter way to frame this for the Task Force's purposes:

  • This year's funding allows us to initiate projects in this fiscal year without re-doing our current budget, if we're all in agreement that a project is ready to go. 
  • A proposal can and should recommend the length of pilot that the task force feels would be most effective, as well as the best time to get it started, and the Board's discussion and decision will take long-term funding into account. 

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President



Nina Lindsay's picture

Vicky, re-reading your comment, here's another and possibly shorter way to frame this for the Task Force's purposes:

  • This year's funding allows us to initiate projects in this fiscal year without re-doing our current budget, if we're all in agreement that a project is ready to go. 
  • A proposal can and should recommend the length of pilot that the task force feels would be most effective, as well as the best time to get it started, and the Board's discussion and decision will take long-term funding into account. 

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President



Paula Holmes's picture

I am sorry for the delay in my response.  Please feel free to ask more questions.  I do want to clarify how the operating budget works.  We approve an operating budget at Annual for the fiscal year starting in September.  This MW you will see a preliminary proposed budget for FY19. The budget starts from scratch each fiscal year.  That means that we do not carry over funding.  For example if we budget $10,000 for a project and only $5,000 is spent in FY18.  That unspent $5,000 is not there in FY19 for the project. That is not saying that we would not budget for the project in FY19, but the operating budget is rebuilt following our budget process.

At Annual the Board approved funding dollars for EDI TF based on the EDI TF recommendations for FY18.  The Board acknowledged during Annual that there would be multiple fiscal years, there was concern that there wasn’t data from student gift membership and that perhaps future year funding for such a large expense could come from corporate sponsorship as a way to address the sustainability issues of the model laid out in the proposal.   Since Annual, a new implementation task force has dug in and have a real sense of project plans and the expenses for them.  The Task Force can put in their future funding request and explicitly state they would like funding in x amount for FY 19 and also FY 20. There isn’t a rule that says we can’t put in a placeholder for FY20 at this time. Note that FY19 & FY20 amounts will need Board approval.  Here it is great that we have a new deputy director, Alena, who can help them with this process, along with an excellent budget chair, Deanna.

We have used the Student Gift Membership project in this discussion and I feel it is important to clarify that this project was funded through Friends of ALSC.  I hope that you will recall that I talk about "different pots of money" : Operating, Endowments, Friends of ALSC and Grants.  The rules for these funds are different.  Friends of ALSC is for a lack of a better terms the most flexible of the funds.  We have used Friends of ALSC for several small projects where it was necessary to have a multi-year financial commitment, as we have the ability to carry over funds from year to year.  We knew from the onset that the Student Gift Membership project was going to be two years, plus, there was interest in being able to donate to the project, here Friends of ALSC seemed the best funding fit to pilot the project.

I am happy to answer any questions.  

Nina Lindsay's picture

Board Colleagues,
The EDI Task Force has been discussing our questions, with Board Liaison Vicky Smith and Alena , and have decided to hold off on submitting a formal Board Action Request until they have a better sense of how this piece will work with the other initiatives listed in their charge.  Co-chair Hanna Lee says
"Advertising and recruitment beyond ALSC will be essential in targeting underrepresented populations, and the current timeline simply doesn't allow for a coherent vision and a thoughtful, strategic roll-out. I understand that this means we'll miss an opportunity to impact this round of spring appointments, which is unfortunate but preferable to making promises we can't keep. The questions you've posed and the discussion from the Board have been very helpful in clarifying our thinking, and I'm confident that we're moving in the right direction."
I've thanked Hanna and the Task Force for giving this some swift consideration in case we had a window of opportunity, and for making a sound decision.  I've welcomed them to bring forward questions or requests as needed.
I thank each of you as well for coming online for this discussion; I will be in touch very soon about our Midwinter Board agenda.
This online meeting of the ALSC Board is now adjourned. 

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President