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Jason Griffey's picture

MOTION: Reopening the LITA Board Listserv Archive

Whereas: The LITA Board of Directors is dedicated to transparency of our communications to our members and the public;

Whereas: The LITA Board Listserv archives have been publicly available for the extent of their history;

Whereas: The LITA Board Listserv archives are a valuable resource for our members and the public, containing over 14 years of institutional knowledge;

Whereas: The removal of the history of the LITA Board from public view prevents our members from understanding our decisions and our history;

I move that the LITA Board listserv archives located at http://lists.ala.org/sympa/info/litaboar be made public.

Jason Griffey's picture

I am following Bylaws recommended procedures for Motions on ALA Connect, which can be found here: http://connect.ala.org/node/174084

As per their recommendation, this motion is now available for discussion and comment though 9am Eastern time on July 9th, 2012. At that time, I will be posting a poll for votes on the final motion.

The floor is now open for discussion of the Motion above.

 

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Cindi Blyberg's picture

It's not stated in Bylaws' recommendations, but procedure dictates that we have a second before debate can begin.  "Debate" is Sturgis' word for "discussion." :)  So, I second.

Lauren Pressley's picture

Glad to have discussion, so thank you for setting it up. I believe that the concern is that some of the previous board members might not have realized, known, and/or been informed so when they posted they did so thinking only of their current fellow board members as the audience--not necessarily future boards or members without the full context of what they were talking about, not potential employers, or other various audiences that might come to it.

My preference is to have a new list: one where when you join you are notified that it is public, interested parties could join in a read-only capacity as is done with the ALA council list, and have the archives for that list be public from the beginning.

Of course, I'm interested in the following discussion and with compelling reasons for making the back log public I could be swayed. Just given the context of what I know now that seems a bit unfair and could create an environment which might feel hostile to people who have served the organization in the past.

laurenpressley.com

Jason Griffey's picture

I totally understand that line of thought. But my take on it is that they have been public for 14 years....and somehow LITA survived. Honestly, I had assumed that it was common knowledge that the archives were public. Certainly lots of people seemed to know it in my circle of friends.

I also believe that it is beholden to us to be transparent about the history of LITA, even if it's uncomfortable and even if it hurts. Because that's the only time that transparency really matters. I think about it in terms of analogy: If this were a vendor, and we'd had access to content for 14 years, and the vendor decided to remove it because they had concerns that some of the authors might not be comfortable having their works up online...well, we'd be upset about that, I think.

I think listservs should probably go away as a communication method for us, as Connect gives much more robust controls over conversations. 

Jason

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Lauren Pressley's picture

I totally agree that listservs should give way to Connect, which is much more functional for the varying types of conversations that take place.

However, I'm not sure that the analogy you present holds up. We pay vendors for content. The content itself is what we get from the vendor. Of course we'd be upset about it if they took away the thing we thought had value and paid for. The board discussions are about the policy and practices of the organization, and the outcomes of those discussion are what (most) members are dues paying members for--and if those just vanished I think members would be understandably upset. So I wouldn't go so far as to make that direct comparison between previous board discussions and vendor content.

laurenpressley.com

Jason Griffey's picture

Agreed, it's not a perfect analogy. None are, or it would just be equivalence. (*Philosophy nerd fistbump*)

The outcomes are arguably what members pay for, but how said outcomes were arrived at is interesting to a segment of the membership. I know this because it was interesting to me when I was trying to initially set up an IG and I went back and read a bunch of discussions about how IGs got approved. 

I just reflexively dislike the idea that we are choosing to remove information that has been publicly available for, as I think i've mentioned, 14 years. :-) We need to be brave about our transparency, and this is an example where we can.

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Lauren Pressley's picture

*Philosophy nerd fistbump* back. :)

Agreed on most counts. I just think it's an easy out for us to be brave about other's transparency. I'd rather see our energy and efforts go into making the current board's work transparent and do the hard work of putting into place a framework where future boards will know that is an expectation--both culturally and in terms of policy.

laurenpressley.com

Jason Griffey's picture

Totally agree. I just want to do both...setting the expectations for the future is something that I'm all about. But I also want the Board to make decisions, even unpopular ones, that are on the side of more information and not less. 

I also fail to see how, after 14 years, we now need to remove access to something that I, prior to my time on the board, found useful. I don't want to squash the future-me that might be using the archive now. 

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Lauren Pressley's picture

I see that. I guess my perspective is just that in this case it seems like it's not entirely our decision to make. That, and, in general I work to avoid the "we're doing this because it's always how it's been done" arguments for things at work and in the field, and instead try to focus on what is the right decision to make in a given context.

laurenpressley.com

Jason Griffey's picture

Did I actually just argue for "the way things have always been done"? They'll take away my radical card! *fans self*

What I meant, I suppose, is that no harm was being done having it open (and we have 14 years of data to show that), and that I do see harm in closing it off. That's what tips the scales for me. That's why I think the right thing is to maintain the availability of the archive to the public.

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David King's picture

For discussion purposes (because I completely support this idea): is there any good reason to NOT have them public? Any LITA secrets that shouldn't be aired in a public forum? 

 

Slightly connected to this topic - why do we even have this listserv, when we have Connect? Don't they both serve the same purpose? And are both needed? I'm not sure...

Dale Poulter's picture

In the past, and this can always change, issues have been freely discussed including new award winners, nominations, etc. If we reopen the archive, how would this information be discussed. This is the same issue we have during face to face meetings and an executive/closed session is used.

Jason Griffey's picture

I did think about the awards, etc, that have been discussed on the listserv previously. While the belief may have been that the listserv was private, it was not...so for approximately 14 years or so all of those discussions have, indeed, been public. Nothing burned down during those 14 years, nor were any irrevocable harms done.

Moving forward, I would think that Connect, with the ability to have private conversations, would be the place for those to happen, if it is necessary to have a non-public conversation.

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David King's picture

If it's been public for 14 years without repercussions, then it has clearly won the "would it work" battle. I'm all for it.

Adriene Lim's picture

In my view, just because the archives have been open "by accident" in the past and have not caused problems, this does not translate into obtaining informed consent by those who were participating in conversations on the list without a full understanding that their discussions would be wide open and accessible to others.  In the future, "informed consent" will be achieved when new members join the LITA Board and are told up front that we value and will be maintaining open communication with streamed business meetings and open list archives for the board's list.  If they choose to accept these parameters, they will then be informed enough to know that they should send private email messages, off list, if they don't want to disclose some point or issue publicly. If the persons do not accept these parameters, then will not want to join or stay on the Board.  If former Board members did not have the ability to choose these parameters in the past, then I would argue that these former Board members did indeed have some expectation of privacy at that point in time, or else, why was the list a closed one with subscriptions restricted? 

When I have managed or created lists, I have tried to announce the parameters to all those who are invited to participate, e.g., "This is a public list with an archives that will be accessible to others," and I've also tried, as a courtesy to participants, to announce who is leaving or joining a group, e.g., "Hi everyone. Please note that our new members, XXX and YYYY, are joining the list today.  Welcome to our discussion list, XXX and YYYY!"  Most people do not even do that, but I have found it to be part of my definition of "transparency," because in my view, transparency also means a clarity and agreement in regard to the boundaries in which we are operating together as a group.  As a LITA Board, we have made a move toward open communications, but for me, opening up other people's conversations when this was not part of their informed consent for participation in the past, would not be right.  An accident is one thing, but a deliberate action when one discovers the "accident" is another. Let's open up our archives from this point forward with a new list. 

Cody Hanson's picture

+1

The fact that awards and nominations were discussed openly on the list in the past seems ample evidence to me that my predecessors on the board were operating under the assumption that the list was private.

Given that we're not exactly suffering under a crushing load of people wanting to sign up to volunteer for LITA offices, I would hate for anyone to decide not to run for board because they felt a danger of being sold out by future board members making private conversations public.

Like Adriene and Lauren, I believe the most noble course for us here is to be a model of deliberate transparency going forward.

Colleen Cuddy's picture

I am on board with Cody, Adrienne, and Lauren and think we should have a new list moving forward.
CC

Colleen Cuddy

LITA, President (2011-2012)

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Does this need a new email list? Perhaps not.

I suggest the offending email threads (which shouldn't have been posted to an email list in the first place) be removed from the list archives -- and the litaboar list archives be re-opened.

  • Also, I would be happy to offer a list thereof, assuming I could have access to the archive for long enough to run a few queries to narrow the targets :)

-Aaron
:-)'

***** "Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Going from my observation that all ALA Governance lists on Sympa have open archives, I suggest that the ALA email lists were originally created (designed) to be open lists.

While recent practice (at least since 2009) evolved into votes held by email and discussion of private matters... this is not a problem with the technology - it's lack of user awareness. ALA Council orientations used to (not sure if they still do, I've been at the LITA chairs meetings instead of the council orientations for the last 3 years) give an admonition *against* posting award discussions to "alacoun" -- and iirc there was maybe only one or two attempts at "vote by email" before that was discarded as too unweildly (for ~190 votes to be tallied accurately).

"Ancient" ALA history (1960s/70s) shows that a revolution happened against perceived closed-door/back-room dealings and one of the results of this (decade-long) event was the Open Meetings policy which says that *everything* which does not impact personal or institutional privacy shall be conducted openly.

This is a fairly binary equation: If a discussion does not require a closed session in a meeting, it does not need a closed thread in Connect. To me, this is not radical. What *is* radical is the desire to not open everything which can legitimately be opened.

-Aaron
:-)'

***** "Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Dale Poulter's picture

Just curious, do we have any data from all of our membership about their perceptions of our current open policies and/or what they desire?

 

Aaron Dobbs's picture

I direct your attention to the brouhaha from the streaming debacle a year or so ago... though I suppose that is more "anec-data" than true "quant-" or "qual-data." :)

Data (and/or lack thereof) is not really germane, to me...
LITA Board 
should keep open everything that would potentially be presented/discussed in a business meeting -- because it's the right thing to do, not just because the members demand it. (though member-demand has also been clearly expressed over the lkast 3 years, adding weight to the LITA Board should keep everything open push)

-Aaron
:-)'

***** "Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Lauren Pressley's picture

I don't think we can compare the current LITA Board list to the current Council list. Council, for one, has a list that is advertised as publicly read-only and has a separate email list for honors/awards, which re-emphasizes the fact that the primary list can be read by anyone. LITA does not have a parallel set up (at least in use since I've been part of this) and so does not send the signal that there is another space for those types of conversations.

Further, I think the lack of user awareness is exactly the point of the conversations we've been having. When people have voted or discussed private matters, it makes it pretty clear that at least some of them had the assumption of privacy.

laurenpressley.com

Aaron Dobbs's picture

The Council model still holds up, though...

Tthe new list would become an private (awards/honors, privacy-needed) list and the current litaboar list would have the offending awards/honors content expurged (and moved to the private list if possible)?

Also, regarding the separate email list, I do not recall it being used (it may have been and I just didn't realize it, of course *grin*)

I'd be arguably in favor of this method (new list as private board honors/awards list... though Connect makes much more sense for private content going forward) over wholsale deletion of all LITA Board (litaboar) contnet

-Aaron
:-)'

***** "Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

David King's picture

A question connected to the listserv - do we actually NEED it? We have Connect, and we have some guidelines in place for private and public discussions.

So - what role or function is the Listerv meeting that Connect is NOT meeting?

Personally, I would be in favor of narrowing down our two communication platforms to just one.

thoughts? 

Cindi Blyberg's picture

This is a technical issue (and a personal one, I guess), but I find myself better able to keep up with email threads than with Connect threads.  Connect notifications come sporadically and sometimes not at all, and are sometimes blank.  If we went with ONLY Connect, I would have to designate a day and time when I would systematically review updated threads, rather than the just-in-time nature of email threads.  That's my only hesitation, though.

Jason Griffey's picture

I have never had sporadic or blank Connect notifications...my experience has been that it's stable and fast. YMMV.

Perhaps playing with email settings and/or other technical solution might help. But I think (opinion here) that Connect is a far better place for both discussions and interactions, PLUS it has the benefit of being someplace that maintains institutional memory in a more robust way than a listserv.

We should probably move this to a separate thread, though.

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Aaron Dobbs's picture

This looks like a mostly intra-choir discussion for the first ~2/3rd or so of replies.

I'd love to have some institutional memory applied to the original setup of the litaboar (and all ala email lists, for that matter) archives availability.

For some perspective:

  • *every* ALA Governance email list on Sympa has openly available archives
  • almost every list I sampled on Sympa is an open list 
    • LITA Forum 2011 is closed
    • LITA Board isn't even listed (though by the time I got to the "L"s my eyes were tired) in the Sympa lists?!

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, I am highlighting that there has been a troubling practice of closing off of what should be open and available.

At some point, LITA Board practice will return to its proper open-nature and I (for one) will celebrate it when it (finally) re-emerges.

-Aaron
:-)'

***** "Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

Jason Griffey's picture

Per the original post in this thread, there is now a Poll available for voting on this Motion. The Poll will be available for 4 days, closing on 7/13.

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