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Peter Hepburn's picture

GLBTRT Councilor's report, MidWinter 2014


The 2014 MidWinter Meeting took place a couple of weeks ago now, and with the spring semester just underway here, I’ll get this report out to the round table before more time passes.

Only a year since I left the Midwest for SoCal, and yet I was not so well-prepared for real winter when I encountered it last month at ALA MidWinter.  I was heartily glad that my hotel in Philadelphia was so close to the convention center that I could dash over (or to Starbucks) without layering up too too much.  I thought it was a good set of meetings in Philadelphia, though the weather might have sapped a bit of the energy out of the convention center.  Still, it’s a terrific city for a conference, in my experience, and the dining there is excellent.  The social was a great success, and the planners deserve our thanks for that.

Roland Hansen, David Vess, and Ann Symons shepherded the RT through its board meeting and social.  Along with the rest of the executive board, they are all working hard to move the Round Table forward.  The board, by the way, holds monthly meetings in Adobe Connect that are open to the membership (as was the meeting in Philadelphia – and thank you to RT members who came to listen and to contribute).

So then…

Council had a moderately busy set of agendas before it this time around with a resolution on Edward Snowden once again and a few other resolutions dealing with things more internal to ALA (electronic communications, availability of governing information, allowing programs at MidWinter).  In brief:

  • Council approved the establishment of a task force to work with ALA staff on electronic communication for Council.  There had been a flurry of e-mails and such before MidWinter on how and where documents were posted and how and where they should be.  I have not yet heard about the composition of the task force.
  • Council approved a resolution requiring the governing bodies of round tables and divisions to make reports of their meetings and similar documentation available within 30 days of the meeting.  This took a little discussion, and it should be made clear that it does not affect committees or other sub-bodies of the divisions or round tables.  The GLBTRT already does this consistently, so far as I can tell, and there should be no further impact on the RT.
  • Council did not approve a resolution to recognize Edward Snowden as a whistleblower.  There was much debate, but my sense was that there was less support and a lower vote for this than for previous resolutions regarding Snowden.
  • Council referred a resolution on allowing programs at MidWinter to BARC, the Budget Analysis and Review Committee.  Because of the potential for financial impact to the association, this is a necessary step.
  • Council debated and approved a resolution on maintaining government web sites in times of government closure.  There was considerable discussion surrounding pay and obligation to the public, and Councilors had to balance the two issues as they saw fit.
  • In terms of actions arising from committee reports, Council approved resolutions coming from the Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Committee on Legislation related to whistleblowing and government surveillance.  Council also approved a new award, Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity.  It sounds like a cute and funny thing, but it’s a genuinely intended award.

Council remains a place with some lively debate and some discussions that, well, aren’t quite so exciting to most of us (there are always policy wonks or governance wonks or budget wonks or…).  Still, it’s a place I invite all of you to share in.  No, it’s rare that you might be permitted to address Council.  But the room is open, there is seating for many, and Councilors can usually lend an ear at various times.  It’s YOUR Council, so come see what it is doing for you.

At Council, I often find myself talking over issues with a core group, most sitting near me, among them Gina Persichini, Karen Schneider, Matt Ciszek, John DeSantis, and John Sandstrom.  RT members all, and all of them offering good thinking and clear voices at Council.  There are other RT members on Council, too, and while we don’t all share the same view on each vote, it’s good that we can talk about the matters coming before us.  I should also add that as much as possible, I bring the resolutions to the RT board for discussion.  That was the case in Philadelphia this year, and the board, in turn, provided some guidance for my decision-making.

The big news for me, personally, was my election to ALA’s Executive Board.  My second year of standing for election, and it was an honour to share the stage with the rest of the candidates.  I am thrilled to be elected, and as a voice from the round tables and a gay man to add those aspects of diversity.  I am also delighted that Gina joins me in election for a three-year term, and that Mike Marlin, another RT member, was elected to fill a vacated term for the next handful of months.  With ALA President-Elect Courtney Young a longtime member of the RT, we will have a healthy contingent from the GLBTRT on Executive Board.  I hope we serve ALA well.  I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Ann Symons and Robert Newlen who offered excellent advice and support on the speech (and came to watch the forum).  And especial thanks to Todd Krueger and Martin Garnar, my conference roommates of some years now.  It is immensely helpful to have two great friends (and fellow RT members) as my sounding boards and voices of reason when we’re back in the room.  Believe me, they heard that speech many times, stopping me and helping me tweak things into a much better state.  The support of RT colleagues and friends is a wonderful thing.

Annual in Las Vegas is up next.  I was glad to meet a number of you for the first time in Philadelphia, and I hope to meet more of you this June.  Come to the RT programs and social and meetings, come to Council.  Find me on Twitter (@phepbu).  Send me an e-mail.  Be active in the Round Table!

In the meantime, though, get through the rest of this winter, and may things in your libraries be going well.




Peter Hepburn

GLBTRT Councilor