Council Membership and Overcoming Institutional Inertia
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The ALA Council list has been burning up with commentary and suggestions and ideas about Council effectiveness and structure for the last few weeks.
See: http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/alacoun/2013-02/thrd1.html to browse the discussions
Here is a summation - in bullet points - of the main discussion points:
- Council is too big to be effective
- Gradually shrink Council to ~33 At Large seats (or at least not more than any other group such as chapters or divisions).
- Do away with at-large seats
- Do away with chapter councilors
- Do away with division councilors
- ALA Council has 50% more at-large councilors than chapter/division councilors combined. This essentially creates an unbreakable voting bloc in the Council. That is neither fair nor democratic, is poor practice and lacks accountability. No other association of ALA's size comes even close to having 100 at-large reps. And none has 50% more at-large reps than all other chapter/region/division reps combined. In this regard, ALA Council is far out of alignment with best practices of other associations.
- Council is just right
- Was expanded to "current" number in 1995 to increase diversity of voices/opinions
- We are as big as Congress, no problem
- "I like my seat, it was easy to get, and I don't want to lose it or have to work too hard to keep it. It looks good on my resume. I like having power, and I don't even want to think about sharing it more equitably. When someone questions this arrangement that empowers me so, I counterattack and take offense because that is easier than accepting that the situation is unfair in my favor."
- The previous comment is incredibly insulting, It was not easy to get elected to council, in fact I didn't think I would be. But I worked really hard on my bio, and spent a lot of time encouraging people to vote. I have also worked very hard in other areas of the profession, to the point where I probably spend another whole work week above and beyond my "day job" working to support libraries. I think other people have had the same experience. People are allowed to have different points of view without being aggressively insulted, and this type of language is exactly the problem that has been mentioned to me most by non councilors. -LC <edited for grammar and spelling>
- ^ Nothing personal, LC. Apologies for any offense taken. Comment two bullets up was compiled and paraphrased from several actual responses from among 200+ received during the discussion. It doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. But it does apply to the people who offered those comments, which are relevant to this category.
- I don't recall anyone using those exact words, or that tone. I've been disapointed in the tone this discussion has taken from the beginning. It's not what I was expecting from my first year on Council, and it's been fairly deflating. -LC [LC, believe me, no one was more deflated than I to find that these kinds of opinions are actually held by sitting Councilors. All the more reason for having a frank and courageous conversation about this issue. I encourage you to really talk to councilors and listen to some of the things being said for confirmation. Thanks.--SR]
- Council is missing representation from distinct, identifiable groups
- Chapters vs. Affiliates
- Round Tables vs. Divisions
- At-large vs. Smaller, better defined subsets of ALA
- Counicl needs to be "right-sized"
- Several suggestions for alternate configurations
- Phase in simple, modest reforms that can take effect over time without anyone losing their duly elected seat. Every councilor who has a seat now, will keep it through the rest of their term. That's only fair. Then at a future election, the number of open seats would simply be adjusted. Nothing drastic. Councilors who want to run again, would have a fair shot at those seats. Over the course of two, maybe three election cycles, we complete the phasing in, so that the total number of at-large Councilors is balanced and consistent with the number of chapter and division reps. It's simple, and it's the right thing to do.
- Future Perferct Task Force Report
- ALA CD#44, Future Perfect Presidential Task Force Report[DOC file] from 2012 Annual (also, attached to this Online Document)
- Not focused enough to make real change. Better to address one clear and obvious flaw in ALA Council structure: restore the balance of power.
- Other points
- Contrary to what some councilors are suggesting, this isn’t about a power grab. It's about resolving one very specific, clearly observable, long-standing issue with Council, which is unequal representation. No other association of ALA's size even comes close to having this many at-large councilors -- and none but ALA has 50% more at-large councilors than all the chapter/division reps combined. No one group should outnumber all others combined. That is neither fair nor democratic. That is a big problem, because it reflects poorly on all of us.
If we can summarize the high points, first, we might be able to pull something informative together for discussion and then build on it through collaboration with COO and other relevant ALA units for use in a future resolution...
Feel free to add other ideas to this online document (please do not just delete previous content, use the strikethrough formatting to indicate what to remove)