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Nina Lindsay's picture

Online Board Meeting: ALSC Statement on ALA Executive Director MLIS Requirement

Greetings, Board colleagues.

I am calling an online meeting of the ALSC Board of Directors.

The agenda item is to discuss a potential ALSC Statement on the ALA Executive Director MLIS Requirement

In order to establish quorum for this online meeting, I would like to ask everyone to please indicate at this time that you are “present,” and once quorum is established within the next couple of days I will indicate that discussion may begin.  I will post an introduction and supporting document here in advance of the discussion commencing. 

Thank you.

 

Karen MacPherson's picture

Present

Vicky Smith's picture

Present.

Paula Holmes's picture

Present

Kay Weisman's picture

Present

Kay Weisman

Jeanne McDermott's picture

Present

Amy Koester's picture

Present

Christine Caputo's picture

Present

Mary Voors's picture

Present.

Jenna Nemec-Loise's picture

Present.


Jenna Nemec-Loise
Division Councilor
Association for Library Service to Children

 

Julie Roach's picture

Present

Doris Gebel's picture

present

Doris Gebel

 

Andrew Medlar's picture

Present

 
Nina Lindsay's picture

Thank you, we have a quorum and discussion is now open regarding the attached proposed ALSC Statement regarding the ALA Executive Director MLIS requirement. 

Introduction

As you are likely aware, ALA Executive Director (ED) Keith Michael Fields announced his plans to retire July 2017. In early October, the YALSA Councilor notified the ALA Council electronic discussion list of its Board's vote "to recommend to Julie Todaro, ALA President, and the ALA Executive Director search committee makes a policy change so that it is recommended but not required that the ALA Executive Director holds an MLIS degree." Jenna, our division councilor, referred this item to the ALSC Executive Committee for consideration and potential discussion at our Fall meeting, which followed our recent Strategic Planning day in Chicago.

ALA Council passed a resolution in 2000 requiring the ALA Executive Director to hold an MLIS.  While the intention seems sound, the ALSC Executive Committee shares the YALSA Board's concern that requiring an MLIS might unnecessarily limit a search for qualified candidates.  As the ALA ED runs an association, not a library, there are other relevant credentials that might best qualify a candidate. The attached background sheet from the YALSA Board contains additional supporting information.

The resolution can only be changed by Council vote, and the soonest it might undertake this vote is at Midwinter.  However, the ED search will commence before then.  The ALSC Executive Committee therefore refers to you all for discussion this proposed letter to the ALA Executive Board, recommending they exercise flexibility now in their search process to ensure a diverse pool of candidates, pending any possible change in the Council resolution at Midwinter.  

Discussion

Discussion on this topic is now open. In the interest of acting “nimbly,” I hope to move us to a vote by mid-next-week.

Please remember to apply here the same guidelines we use in our face-to-face Board discussions, always keeping in mind our Core Purpose of "Creating a better future for children through libraries;" our core values of Collaboration, Excellence, Inclusiveness, Innovation, Integrity and Respect, Leadership, and Responsiveness; and our Envisioned Future as one in which "Libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them."

The ALSC Board must embrace knowledge-based decision-making to be most effective, and for each issue we ask ourselves:

  • What do we know about the needs, wants, and preferences of ALSC members/prospective members/stakeholders that are relevant to the issue?

  • What do we know about the current realities and evolving dynamics of children's librarianship that are relevant to this issue?

  • What do we know about the capacity and strategic position of ALSC that is relevant to this issue?

  • What are the ethical implications of our choices?

(From "Knowledge-Based Decision Making: The 4 Knowledges," C2011 Tecker Consultants, LLC)

 
 
 

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President

 

 

Amy Koester's picture

Thank you, Nina and the ALSC Executive Committee, for bringing this issue to the board for our consideration, and for providing strong documentation and a framework to support us in our discussion.

I am struck by the ties between the ALA ED search and many of the comments regarding diversity and equity from ALSC members during our strategic planning information gathering process. A consistent theme in comments from members has been the need to ensure representative diversity in our association, with the implication that this should also apply to the larger ALA. Discussions among members have consistently touched on the need to be aware that we can mistake lack of diversity for a problem of the qualifications of potential members, rather than a problem of the pipeline through which we recruit potential members in our current system. The reasoning goes that, in adjusting the pipeline—our threshold for membership, etc.—we have the ability to bring greater diversity to the association by making grounds for participating more diverse and thereby more accessible to more people. Without adjusting the pipeline, we’ll continue as we are without substantial change in our membership. ALSC members have voiced a desire for more representative diversity and have indicated that changing how we do things, what we look for, is necessary to achieving that goal.

This scenario is played out as well in the current qualifications for the potential candidate pool for the ALA ED, as suggested in the supporting document from YALSA provided by Nina. Statistically, the current demographics of credentialed librarians—88% white, 83% female—indicate that people of color would be less represented in the candidate pool if a MLS is required because they are underrepresented among MLS-holders. Underrepresentation should not be mistaken for under-qualification; if a candidate pool is limited by a specific credential, and that credential disproportionately favors one group (or disproportionately undervalues others), the process is flawed and inequitable and denies the association the opportunity to consider all truly qualified candidates.

ALSC members’ desire for more equitable opportunity for participation and leadership in ALSC is analogous to more equitable consideration for leadership in ALA. I think ALSC members would thus be in favor of an ALSC Board letter suggesting to the ALA Executive Board that the search for an ED recommend, but not require, candidates hold an MLS. This language would better recognize candidates with commensurate qualifications who may bring significant perspective and value to our organization without unnecessarily limiting the number of candidates of color due to a rigid and specific degree requirement.

I look forward to considering my fellow board members’ thoughts and comments on this issue as we engage in a robust discussion. I am grateful to participate in this conversation that has such longterm implications for our members, our association, and our profession.

 

Karen MacPherson's picture

Hi all -- Wow, thank you Amy for your eloquent and well-informed words. I wish I could add something more, but you have perfectly reflected my own thinking. I will highlight, however, what I found to be the most important point in what you wrote: "Underrepresentation should not be mistaken for under-qualification; if a candidate pool is limited by a specific credential, and that credential disproportionately favors one group (or disproportionately undervalues others), the process is flawed and inequitable and denies the association the opportunity to consider all truly qualified candidates."

So, to sum up, I'm in full support of the sentiments expressed in the draft ALSC letter, which states that "it is recommended but not required that the ALA Executive Director holds an MLIS degree." 

Christine Caputo's picture

Thanks to the ALSC Executive Committee for bringing forward the draft recommendation on this important topic and for sharing the YALSA position document.  And wow, Amy, very well stated points in favor of the recommendation to ALA.  I agree with Amy's and Karen's position to support the ALSC recommendation in the draft ALSC letter to recommend but not require that the ALA ED have an MLIS degree.

I would add that I do think it is important to cast as wide a net as possible for a highly qualified person to lead such a large and diverse organization as ALA, and I think it is valuable for the candidates to have as much familiarity with libraries as possible, without creating too many 'requirements' that limit the pool of candidates.

Kay Weisman's picture

I concur with what has already been said.  It's fine not to require an MLIS as long as we strive for library familiarity and support.O

Kay Weisman

Nina Lindsay's picture

I'm posting this on behalf of Paula, who emailed me just now:

"I am currently traveling and having trouble logging on to ALA connect. Please note that I concur with the qualifications for ALA executive director document"

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President

 

 

Jenna Nemec-Loise's picture

Good afternoon, colleagues:

As Division Councilor, I'm proud we can put forth this document advocating excellence and flexibility in the ALA ED search. I'm especially pleased to see the statement honor both the 2000 ALA Council resolution as well as ALSC's core values. I concur with everyone's thoughtful feedback thus far and fully support this important document.

Warmest regards,

Jenna


Jenna Nemec-Loise
Division Councilor
Association for Library Service to Children

 

Vicky Smith's picture

Ditto.

Mary Voors's picture

Let me also offer my full support to the recommendation in the ALSC letter and thank Amy for her clearly articulated thoughts.

Jenna Nemec-Loise's picture

I move that the ALSC Board of Directors approve the November 2016 statement asking the ALA Executive Committee to recommend, but not require, candidates for the ALA Executive Director position to hold the MLIS degree.


Jenna Nemec-Loise
Division Councilor
Association for Library Service to Children

 

Vicky Smith's picture

Second.
Vicky SmithChildren's & Teen EditorKirkus Reviews108 Stillman St.South Portland, ME 04106Phone: (207) 671-6846

Nina Lindsay's picture

Thank you Jenna for the motion and Vicky for the second.  We will allow today for any further discussion on the motion, and then I will call for a vote. 

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President

 

 

Nina Lindsay's picture

Board members, please cast your vote at: http://connect.ala.org/node/260193

The poll will close Sunday at 8:51pm CST.

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President

 

 

Nina Lindsay's picture

This motion has passed.  Thank you all; this online board meeting is adjourned.

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President