ALA Kitchen Table Conversations Community
ALA Kitchen Table Conversations: Narrative Summary
Be part of this conversation:
Sign up as a "participant" – or “facilitator” or “note-taker” in one of ten 90-minute time slots, offered Saturday, Sunday and Monday: https://www.volunteerspot.com/login/entry/245966422062
Beginning at the Annual Conference 2013, ALA has held a series of kitchen-table style conversations, to increase our understanding of member and attendee aspirations for the “ALA community.” Feedback from those conversations has been summarized in narrative form and shared back with members of the community. Each successive cycle of conversations has contributed to this shared or public knowledge.
People want a welcoming, inclusive, engaged, relevant and supportive organization. But they’re concerned that ALA’s complexity makes it difficult to navigate and that ALA needs to be more welcoming to new members and new ideas. As people talk more about these concerns, they talk about silos, having too many choices and too much “noise,” and about bureaucracy. They say we need to concentrate on building relationships and on developing a sense of community; we need more focus; and we need to continue the conversations.
They say members need flexible ways to participate meaningfully and that ALA should be a “safe place” to learn and grow. If we worked on this together – ALA leadership, Division leadership, Round Table leadership, and staff – they would be more likely to trust the effort and step forward to help. People are more likely to trust leaders who can work together collaboratively in stressful times. Overall, people believe we are stronger together and have more in common than we realize; but, at the same time, they want their differences heard and acknowledged. (Fall 2014)
By June 2015, these themes were still important. Conversation participants noted that the kitchen table conversations are helping. Conversations notes indicate they know that ALA is listening and taking action, and change is beginning to happen. There was also acknowledgement that given the size and complexity of the ALA community, change will happen in different places and at different rates as community members work together. Sharing stories of progress and lessons learned will be essential to moving the whole community forward. People indicated that they have a sense of hope and recognize that their aspirations require big change – and big changes take some time.
In the June 2015 conversations in San Francisco, participants were asked to be very specific about ways that would help members connect and engage more simply. Several major themes or “findings” emerged. The following “Finding Statements” summarize each of those themes.
Finding Statement: People who have found their place in the ALA community frequently reference the importance of a mentor or experienced peer in their engagement process:
- Participants recognized that mentoring every member is not a feasible goal, but substantive connections with peers, welcoming them to the ALA community, are desired.
- People talk about the moment they found their community within the ALA membership and how energizing that is. Once they find their first community, they see opportunities to connect with other ALA groups. This metaphor suggests the importance of the pathways priority described above.
- The more membership opportunities are tailored to the member, the more welcoming the association feels. For targeted communications to happen, members are willing to provide additional personal communication.
- Greater transparency in the committee appointment process and access to committee work opportunities are desired.
Finding Statement: Members are also looking for more direct relationships with staff across the organization.
- There is a lack of understanding about what specific ALA staff do (aside from conference planning).
- Recognizable staff help give members a greater sense of access.
Finding Statement: Some members don’t feel they are on the membership map in a meaningful way (e.g., paraprofessionals and library support staff, the unemployed and job seekers, consultants) and are searching for their pathways to participation.
- “We could use more round table dedication to support staff and more mentoring among non-librarians around ALA, career development within specific contexts, being respectful of career choices and why some people don’t want to get an MLIS.”
- Participants urged more attention to those in “less traditional job paths,” including more inclusive language, inclusion on “drop-down” menus and wider participation pathways. These were also mentioned in relation to job seekers, free-lancers and support staff.
Finding Statement: People want to be more personally engaged but are unsure about how to make the connections between themselves, the organization, and the field.
- We need more stories about libraries having [community] conversations that made a difference; doing things differently – and the results (what changed).
- Reporting out on the Kitchen Table Conversations will help advance the change conversation.
- Specific outreach to library school faculty may help with perceptions of ALA and pathways to engagement for members.
- “Help us navigate.” What are the priorities? What should we pay attention to across our various interest groups?
- Participants recognized there is a “lot of CE out there,” but also believe that ALA “hasn’t done a great job integrating it.” It does not seem to them to be well coordinated. There doesn’t appear to be a “CE plan.” Participants wanted more structure, more depth and less “scattershot.”
In the 2016 ALA Midwinter cycle of Kitchen Table Conversations, we will continue the discussion begun at the San Francisco meeting. We will again ask participants to be very specific about ways they believe ALA can be more “welcoming, inclusive, engaged, relevant and supportive.” Members, exhibitors, staff and others in the ALA community are welcome to participate as facilitator, note-taker or conversation participant.
Just a reminder that we are again holding Kitchen Table Conversations at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, starting Saturday, January 31, 8:30a.m. The Kitchen Table Conversations continue through Monday. Conversations start at 8:30, 10:30, 1:00 and 3:00 -- and run 1.5 hours. All Kitchen Table Conversations are scheduled in the Hyatt Regency McCormick (HRM), Boardroom 1.
I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to talk with professional colleagues in a small, roundtable environment. This time, we will be focusing primarily on directions for professional and leadership development
To sign up, please click on this link: http://vols.pt/Eab9qU
Safe travels is you're headed to Chicago and I'll hope to see you here.
Call for Facilitators and Moderators for Conversation on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, ALA MW Sunday, Feb 1, 1:00 pmby Nancy Kranich on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 01:28 pm
The ALA Office for Diversity is pleased to note high interest in the upcoming Conversation on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at ALA Midwinter, we have increased our room size and seek additional volunteers for facilitating and note-taking.
We are calling for Harwood trained facilitators to assist with capturing the Midwinter conversation on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion on Sunday, February 1 from 1-2:30pm in McCormick Place West (more info at http://alamw15.ala.org/node/26634).
If you would like a refresher on facilitating and note-taking:
· Facilitator training with the Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at http://ala.adobeconnect.com/p4pudivpstz/
· Step-by-Step Guide (attached to this message)
· Copies of the handouts that will be used at the Event (Ground Rules, ASK Exercise) will be posted to the event in the scheduler
Depending on the number of facilitators, we may ask you to also note-take. Alternately you may identify a volunteer recorder at your table, and collect and categorize their notes after the session. If you are able to assist, please RSVP to email@example.com by Wednesday, January 28.
Many thanks for considering this request!
Michelle Harrell Washington, MLIS
Director - Office for Diversity, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services
American Library Association
50 East Huron Street | Chicago, IL 60611
P: 312.280.5295 or 800.545.2433, x5295| F: 312.280.3256 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
TO: ALA members and 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting attendees
FROM: Courtney L. Young, ALA President
RE: ALA Midwinter Meeting: Conversations with members of the ALA Community
DATE: 23 December 2014
At this year’s ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, we are continuing the kitchen-table type conversations with ALA members and attendees about their aspirations for ALA as their professional community – a community of members, staff and external allies. As we consider future directions for ALA in a time of significant change, your voice is very important. I urge you to participate so you are heard as we consider the best ways for ALA to work with and on behalf of members now and in the future.
The focus of these 1 ½ hour conversations will be Professional and Leadership Development. They will take place at the Hyatt Regency McCormick, Boardroom 1. We are planning four conversations per day, each with up to 16 participants. They will begin on Saturday, January 31, and run through Monday, February 2: 8:30-10:00am, 10:30-noon, 1:00-2:30pm, and 3:00-4:30pm. To ensure your seat, please register in advance by visiting http://vols.pt/Eab9qU. We will fill spaces on a first-come basis, and you are welcome to join without signing up provided there’s space. This year, the Kitchen Table Conversations have been included in the Scheduler http://alamw15.ala.org/sessions/kitchentableconversations, so you can add them easily to your schedule.
ALA members experienced in facilitating conversations will facilitate and record the conversations. Following the Midwinter Meeting, we will post notes to the community in ALA Connect (http://connect.ala.org/node/210217 ) – and as we hold future conversations, we will continue to build a rich base of public knowledge about the aspirations and concerns of our community. Feedback from the Kitchen Table Conversations held at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, 2014 Midwinter Meeting and 2014 Annual Conference has been shared with the ALA Executive Board and with Division leaders. We will be continuing these conversations at the 2015 Annual Conference in San Francisco.
I thank you for your membership, your attendance and your interest in building our professional community together.
Attached is the record of the Kitchen Table Conversations held at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Notes from 11 different Kitchen Table Conversations were pulled together in a continuous stream, then organized under consistent headings. That consolidated and categorized record is attached.
At the beginning of each conversation, participants were asked to react to a "community narrative" that has been built up over preceding conversations -- Annual Conference 2013 (Chicago), Midwinter 2014 (Philadelphia). That "community narrative" is a live narrative that continues to gain nuance and richness through successive conversations. The overall community narrative coming out of the 2014 ALA Annual Conference conversations is attached.
After that initial conversation, participants were asked to focus on their aspirations for, concerns about and recommendations for advocacy by ALA and its member community. An advocacy-specific "community narrative" was also developed. Both the consolidated and categorized notes and the community narrative are being pushed to ALA groups focused on advocacy, as well as to the ALA Executive Board.
We will again be holding Kitchen Table Conversations at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. A specific announcement will be posted here. In the meantime, please continue the conversation by commenting and sharing on this list.