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GLBTRT Councilor Midwinter 2015 report

The 2015 MidWinter Meeting ended less than a week ago (well, for me – I went until almost dinner time on Tuesday, later if you count the bite and drinks with John Chrastka), and with the spring semester just underway here yesterday, I’ll get this report out to the round table before more time passes.

Yes, winter hit Chicago on the Sunday of MidWinter, but it wasn’t so bad (says the guy who didn’t have a Sunday or Monday flight to worry about)(says the guy who grew up in northern Canada).  I was delighted to see snow – we’re so desperate for it on the mountains out here.  The shuttles seemed to run smoothly, and when the taxi queue at the Hyatt looked dauntingly long, I cheerily set out for the social on foot down Michigan.  It’s always good to be back in Chicago, I say.

Ann Symons, Peter Coyl, and Roland Hansen deserve much credit for a well-run board meeting and a fine RT social.  They and the other board and committee members do a lot to keep our round table functioning and active.  It was good to see non-board members watching and listening at the board meeting as well.  Oh, and four presidential candidates!  I missed the visit by one of them to the board, but I did get to hear the other three as well as see them at the candidates’ forum.  Regardless of where you place your vote, I hope this race will encourage you all to cast your ballot!

So then…

Council didn’t feel overwhelmed with resolutions this time.  In the lead up to MidWinter, it seemed there might be more on our docket, but no, it was all quite manageable.  A couple of proposed resolutions didn’t come to the floor in the end.  One involved divestment of endowment investments in three companies with interests in Israel.  The other came from our own RT.

Carolyn Caywood had drafted a well-written resolution in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and Matt Ciszek and I had solicited support and endorsements from a range of bodies including divisions, other round tables, committees, and state chapters.  Prior to MidWinter, the reception for the resolution had been uniformly positive (Councilor-at-large Ed Garcia had asked to sign on as a co-seconder – always glad to bring allies on board!).  A few days before MidWinter started, however, the Washington Office approached us.  The ACLU had decided not to support ENDA and was intending to pursue a strategy that would not allow for the exemptions ENDA permitted.  They asked if ALA would partner with them in some fashion.  There was quick e-mail discussion among board members, and we acquiesced to a request to withdraw the resolution.  We have hopes that we’ll hear more from the Washington Office and perhaps have something concrete in time for Annual.

Council did discuss a few resolutions.  Deploring the destruction of cultural and educational institutions, including libraries, in the Gaza Strip proved contentious and went down.  Surprisingly contentious as well was a resolution that would put on the spring ballot a change to ALA bylaws such that Robert’s Rules of Order would be used in place of Sturgis.  Much like they do with style guides, people have strong preferences on parliamentary rules!  I did see some commentary on Twitter that Council was spending disproportionate time on something like Robert’s Rules when there are library crises going on, such as in Kentucky where funding is in grave danger.  When I had a chance to talk with new Councilors, I would point out that Council does have responsibility for governance, and much as the Robert’s Rules debate seemed trifling, it was within our purview.

Council devoted time to a breakout session for work on the strategic plan.  Councilors discussed three areas:  advocacy, information policy, and leadership and professional development.  I thought that the conversations went well.  My own group, like a number of others, struggled with information policy (we know what it is when we see it, but we can’t define it).  The various groups reported back, and we all heard ideas shared by many as well as some unique ones.  The strategic planning process took place in many quarters at MidWinter, and will continue on to include the membership at large through the Virtual and In-Person Membership meetings in June.

Council, I remind you, is YOUR Council.  You elect us.  You may not be able to speak at Council, but you can come watch and listen.  I never mind members taking me aside when the moment permits and asking questions or offering feedback.  Also, I often bring homebaked cookies to my corner of the Council chambers, just sayin’.  The room is open, the seating is abundant.  Come check it out.

My MidWinter was quite busy this year thanks to my work as a rookie on the Executive Board.  Aside from the RT Board meeting, Council meetings (3, plus the joint information session with Executive Board), and Executive Board meetings (3), there were liaison visits to a division, three round tables, an affiliate, and three committees.  A lot to cram in, but it does give a marvelous insight into so many other areas of the association.  Rewarding work.  By the way, Executive Board meetings are open, and there is seating.  Again, you will not be permitted to speak unless invited to do so, but you are welcome to observe at any time.  Or grab me in a hallway afterward and ask questions!  I do have talking points from the Board that I can share broadly should anyone want them.  Just ask!

A side note with some relation to my liaison duties:  I work with the newest round table in ALA, the Sustainability Round Table, liaising between them and the Board.  Their chair-elect, Madeleine, came to our RT social, and I hope she was able to meet a number of people.  I do encourage you to check out the work that SustainRT is doing and consider membership.  Green initiatives can come out of any place in ALA, but with so many of us interested in them, it’s good that they have an RT to call home.

Annual in San Francisco is up next.  I was glad to meet a number of you for the first time in Chicago and get re-acquainted with others, and I hope to so all the more this June.  San Francisco will be challenging, what with the parade affecting Sunday logistics and the hotels not being as cheap as in other locations (and yes, ALA did get a big bulk discount off of the rack rate).  Early numbers, though, indicate that attendance will be good.  Please, join us all there.  Come to the RT programs and social and meetings, come to Council and Executive Board.  Find me on Twitter (@phepbu).  Send me an e-mail.  Be active in the Round Table!

(And for a glimpse of my MidWinter in photos, check out my Flickr set – there are RT social photos in there!  https://www.flickr.com/photos/liberrianph/sets/72157650210414408/)

In the meantime, get through the rest of this winter (especially all of you in New England!), and may things in your libraries be going well.



Peter Hepburn

GLBTRT Councilor