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Daniel Cornwall's picture

Any previous efforts at measuring/defining effectiveness of ALA resolutions?

Fellow Councilors and ALA Staff,

 I’d like to take advantage of your collective memory to ask whether ALA has done:

1) A study of the effectiveness of our passed resolutions AND/OR

2) Established criteria for what constitutes effectiveness (i.e. What are we trying to accomplish with our resolutions? )

If either of these things have been done, where would I find reports of them?

If we haven't done either 1 or 2, I think it might be helpful to think about what we want our resolutions to do once we've passed them. 

Is success?

  • Only defined by a policy change by whomever we sent the resolution to? 
  • Receiving a non form letter written acknowledgment that our resolution has been received?
  • Knowing that our message has been read by people outside the library field?
  • Knowing that people have taken some sort of action in support of our resolution?
  • Knowing out most librarians in this country know what stand we have taken? 
  • The simple fact that we have placed ALA into the public record? 

Once we decide what success is, how should we measure it? 

Apologies if this issue has been studied to death already. If so, anyone else interested in reviewing the studies with me? 

 

Alfred Kagan's picture

Daniel, Thanks very much for this initiative. I am very interested in the topic, and I doubt that any research has ever been done on it. I think it is particularly important to hold the ALA Washington Office accountable, since it is their job to lobby for the Council's policy decisions. I have tried the past couple of years to get SPECIFIC information about what the Washington Office is doing, but I have been stonewalled. Some councilors even replied that my requests were out-of-line. For example, I have asked to find out how many times the WO staff went to visit Congressional offices, phoned those offices, wrote letters to them, etc. over a specific time period. I did not even ask for the specifics of which offices they contacted and if they got replies. But I don't think it is out of line to ask these questions. 

Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor

 

Christopher Corrigan's picture

In the Council Documents section of the ALA Website (http://www.ala.org/aboutala/governance/council/council-documents) you are able to read the Washington Office's Report within the COL report. Here is what they submitted for Midwinter this year.

Washington Office Report (in the same document as the COL report)

 E-Rate

    • In November of 2013, ALA lobbied the federal communications commission for quick deployment of high-speed internet access.
    • Google Books Decision
      • In the landmark decision, dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Author’s Guild against Google Books, Judge Denny Chin cited an amicus brief submitted to the Court by the Library Copyright Alliance, of which ALA has membership.
      • Authors of Library E-Books Campaign
        • This is a new campaign, launched last year during the Annual Conference, which calls on authors to sign on to a statement of support for libraries to equitable access to e-books.
        • ALA Launches Policy Revolution! Initiative for Libraries
          • With the assistance of a $1 million grant (spread out over three years) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the office of Information Technology Policy is developing an agenda and action plan to reinforce advocacy for U.S. Libraries.
          • Pew Report: Libraries Key to the American Dream
            • According to a Pew study, 95 percent of Americans believe that libraries play an important role in “giving everyone a chance to succeed.” 72 percent of Americans have either used a library or live with an active library user. ALA’s statement regarding the Pew Report may be read from the following link:

 http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2013/12/pew-study-libraries-and-society-illustrates-expanding-roles-us-libraries

  • ALA Leadership Talks Ebooks with Publishers in New York
    • ALA President led a delegation from ALA to meet with members of the publishing industry. Details of the meeting can be accessed from the American Libraries’ E-content blog.
    • Google, ALA Host Webinar: Revisiting CIPA 10 Years Later
      • Google and ALA hosted a symposium in July to mark the 10 year anniversary of the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
      • ALA Submits Comments, Testifies on Department of Commerce Green Paper on Copyright
        • The Internet Policy Task Force of the Commerce Department issued a report in July 2013 and proposed three recommendations that, according to the Washington Office, will affect libraries.
  1. “updating the balance of rights and exceptions”
  2. “assessing and improving enforcement tools to combat online infringement”
  3. “realizing the value of the Internet in commence via online licensing.”
  • According to the Washington Office, considerations in these three recommendations could adversely affect libraries by
  1. holding public libraries liable for infringement of patron on a public access computer.
  2. Weakening Fair Use through mandatory licensing regimes
  • Digital Content Working Group Hosts Ebook Town Hall
    • There were almost 700 participants in ALA’s first “Virtual Town Hall”
    • The archived town hall can be view here: Town Hall

 

Christopher Corrigan's picture

I forgot to mention that the above text is not the exact language of their report, but it is my text from my report to DCLA based on the Washington Office's Report  you can find in ALA Council Documents.

Christopher Corrigan's picture

...I think your idea of measuring the overall effectiveness of the policy resolutions is a good one. Do you think there should be a resolution calling for a committee/task force to audit the outcomes of the resolutions?

It would be a lot of work and research. But it would be beneficial to know where our energy and attention has an outcome.

Alfred Kagan's picture

As I said before, I am in favor of mandating the Washington Office to give us a detailed report of their activities in Congress, and the responses to these activities. I would be in favor of a resolution for that purpose.

Al Kagan
SRRT Councilor

African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Emeritus
University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign






Daniel Cornwall's picture

Hi Al - I can understand your frustration, but my concern is broader than the operations of the Washington office. Particularly since legislative success is only one of several possible measures of effectiveness AND because not all of our resolutions deal with federal legislative issues. I'd rather deal with the broader issue I see. If we were to evaluate the effectiveness of resolutions and found that we only have a minor effect at the federal level, then a closer look at the Washington Office might be appropriate.

Hi Christopher - Thanks for your comments and engaging this discussion. I did see the Washington Office report and I started following the Committee on Legislation at http://connect.ala.org/node/64213, which has been enlightening. Again, though our resolutions are broader than Washington issues.

You asked "Do you think there should be a resolution calling for a committee/task force to audit the outcomes of the resolutions?"

I think the first thing would be see if there has already been such a committee/task force in the past and find their report if there was one. I wasn't sure who to ask, so I made a general appeal. Maybe this would have been better aimed at eBoard or the Executive Director.

If there haven't been any efforts at measuring resolution effectiveness before, I think the first step -- much as it pains me to say so -- would be to call for a task force/committee to come up with a definition of what constitutes a successful/effective resolution. It should be a mix of Council and ALA staff because ideally measures of success could be pulled from whatever ALA is currently keeping stats on -- whether or not its currently reported to Council. New metrics should only be created as a last resort.

The recommended criteria for what is a successful/effective would then be brought back to Council for buy-in. Then and only then would we ask for a task force committee to actually audit the last five or ten years worth of Council Resolutions and see how many have done more than gather dust on a shelf.

Does that sound reasonable? If so, I'll try doing more research about past measurement efforts. If none exists would you be interested in collaborating on a resolution for Annual?

 

 

Daniel Cornwall

Alaska Chapter Councilor

Member, Depository Library Council

http://librarianfromalaska.wordpress.com

Alfred Kagan's picture

Dan,
I agree with you. My suggestion relates to something we could do immediately, and where there is already staff who could easily do a detailed report as part of their position responsibilities. Doing a broader evaluation will obviously be much more of a
challenge.

Al Kagan
SRRT Councilor

African Studies Bibliographer and Professor of Library Administration Emeritus
University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign






Daniel Cornwall's picture

Sorry that I've been so quiet for so long. Aside from being busy at work, I've been looking at the Strategic Initiatives and Enabling Strategies document. I think that our discussion here may be better served by commenting on the Enabling Strategies thread. I have done so at http://connect.ala.org/node/218691#comment-58278.

Daniel Cornwall

Alaska Chapter Councilor

Member, Depository Library Council

http://librarianfromalaska.wordpress.com