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Maureen Sullivan message: Council discussion on aspirations for ALA

Attached for your consideration and discussion is the summary of small group discussions held by the ALA Council on January 27, 2013, in Seattle (Council II).  These discussions will continue. They are a critical part of an association-wide conversation that began in October, 2012, at the joint meeting of the ALA Executive Board and the boards or executive committees of the eleven ALA Divisions. The focus of that conversation was our collective aspirations for ALA in the future.  That conversation has continued, formally and informally, in a variety of settings across the association, including among several division boards.

The outcomes of the fall discussion were posted previously for ALA members to read and to discuss however and wherever they might choose to do so.  Those earlier documents and posts are available to you at http://connect.ala.org/node/195192 and http://connect.ala.org/node/194969  If you have not looked at the earlier materials; I encourage you to do so.

In my introduction to the Council discussion in Seattle, I expressed my belief that this complex undertaking could best be accomplished by working within the Association to identify the most effective ways to strengthen ALA.  I also noted that I wanted to bring what is known as an appreciative inquiry approach to this process, that is, understanding and building upon our strengths, being very clear about where there are opportunities, and also capturing the aspirations of as many individuals as possible.

In our one-hour session on January 27, we focused on aspirations and results. Council formed small groups to focus on two questions:

(1)    What are your aspirations for the future of ALA?

(2)    What are the most important results you want to see?

After the small group discussions concluded, there was an opportunity for individuals to step to a microphone to provide brief reports of the small group discussions.   Given the wealth of ideas and the short time frame available, we did not try to reach agreement in this session. The purpose of this session was instead an opportunity for the expression of diverse perspectives and to begin to share our aspirations.

Three documents are attached to this public post:

(1)    The raw transcript of that portion of the Council II.  The various small group conversations are not captured in the transcript. As individuals stepped to a microphone to report, the captionist did capture those statements.

(2)    Those statements were then captured in a bulleted list. This bulleted list is also attached.  There was no copy editing done to this list.

(3)    Finally, those bulleted statements were roughly sorted into clusters, based on what appeared to be the primary focus of the statement. 

Both this post and attached documents are public, so Councilors and other interested individuals may comment. 

There were other conversations going on at Midwinter.  Participants in a Monday morning conversation facilitated by Peggy Holman using the “Open Space” methodology have posted their aspirational statements.  You may find the results of those small group conversations at http://connect.ala.org/node/198282

Thank you for your participation.  I look forward to the continuing discussion.