ALA Council

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last person joined: 20 days ago 

  • 1.  Council Forum

    Posted 22 days ago

    April 29, 2022


    Dear Fellow Councilors, 

    Council Forum was established many years ago to address issues of transparency in ALA governance, but I, and other Council colleagues, are concerned that over the years Forum has become the problem it was established to address.  

    As we prepare to make changes to ALA's structure, we should also look at Forum. I'd like to share my concerns with you to see if my concerns resonate with others on this list.  

    ALA Councilors are elected to conduct Council's business at regularly scheduled open meetings. Forum is an informal, non-required meeting that convenes generally three times at conference. In addition, there are also historically caucuses some established before I came on Council  in 1985. They were for orientation and to help new councilors navigate their way through the complexity of  ALA Council.  Resolutions were not discussed. Today's caucuses discuss resolutions much in the same way that Forum does.  https://www.practicallyparadise.org/alas-youth-council-caucus/ 

    I'm deeply concerned that in recent years, discussion on the floor of Council has significantly decreased, and I believe that is because Councilors are using Forum to debate items on the Council agenda. Email traffic on our Council list, once an important tool for preparing for Council that also is viewable to all members, has also almost disappeared. 


    I'm also concerned that ALA Committee Chairs are asked to come to Council Forum to answer questions. This work should  be done openly on the floor of Council.   

    Finally, I'm concerned that we are using ALA funds and human resources to provide meeting room space and equipment for these informal gatherings, both Council Forum and Council Caucus'.  Improving the accessibility of Forum and Council Caucus'  would require even more investment of ALA resources. 


    ALA has had a longtime commitment to open and inclusive meetings. Here is ALA policy on this topic: 

    ALA Policy A.1.4 states that ALA is committed to "[an] open, inclusive, and collaborative environment"

    ALA Policy 4.3.16 states that "All activities of the committees, boards, etc. of the American Library Association and its units should be conducted as openly as is feasible,"

    ALA Policy 7.4.4, "Open Meetings," reiterates this principle of openness,


    I believe that Council needs to abide by its own standards. To this end I ask my Council colleagues if they believe that Council Forum and Council Caucus' should continue, be modified, or be eliminated. And I would like this conversation to begin now, in the open, where we can hold ourselves accountable for this discussion



  • 2.  RE: Council Forum

    Posted 22 days ago
    Thanks, Ann, for raising these questions and your observations about the Council conversations on our list. With our hybrid strategy, we should consider cancelling Council forums. Jim. 

    Jim Neal
    University Librarian Emeritus 
    Columbia University
    ALA President 2017-18
    ALA Honorary Member
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jneal








  • 3.  RE: Council Forum

    Posted 22 days ago
    Dear Ann, I think you raise some important questions and appreciate the opportunity to discuss them prior to Annual.   I do think  Council Forums have taken on a different tenor then my previous experience with them when I served in the early 2000's.   From my perspective though part of the reason Council Forums have taken on more import is that Council meeting time has decreased.  We are scheduled to meet at least 2 hours less in total than we did during my previous Council term.  So it is not completely surprising to me that Councilors would seek out other places to discuss the business of association policy-making.  I don't have the vast years of experience on Council as others so I am surely missing other factors -- but these are my observations when I think about why Council is such a different experience for me during this term.

    If Council Forums go away it will make the Council Meeting rules even more important as we must assure that they are constructed in a way that encourage all perspectives are heard.  We must also assure that Council Agendas are structured in such a way as to support the diversity of views on Council and within our membership.   Debate should, in my view, be the most important thing Council does when we convene, not something we are always rushing through due to time constraints.

    That said, I also see value in those proposing resolutions receiving feedback and refining their proposals prior to presenting them to Council.  I have seen resolutions vastly improved through the Forum process.  Are there ways to provide those opportunities without Council Forum?  And within a hybrid Council environment?  I look forward to hearing others views on how we can improve Council's ability to focus on its most important work and hear from all.

    Thank you for raising these issues.

    Eileen

    ------------------------------
    Eileen M. Palmer
    Executive Director
    LMxAC Libraries of Middlesex
    NJLA Chapter Councilor
    empalmer@lmxac.org
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Council Forum

    Posted 21 days ago
    Eileen raises two points I would like to respond to...

    I'm not sure - or I don't remember - why we reduced the number of hours of Council,  but note that we have also voted to extend the time when we aren't finished or rush  through after a committee chair has read his or her report verbatim from the podium when we already have the document.   I don't believe that having less time means we should move the discussion to forum. While forum has been well attended though many councilors  choose not to attend. Those who don't attend are perhaps reluctant to ask a question on the Council floor that has already been answered at forum.

    Eileen:   That said, I also see value in those proposing resolutions receiving feedback and refining their proposals prior to presenting them to Council.  I have seen resolutions vastly improved through the Forum process.  Are there ways to provide those opportunities without Council Forum?  And within a hybrid Council environment?  I look forward to hearing others views on how we can improve Council's ability to focus on its most important work and hear from all.


    I think we can do what Eileen is asking for. Regarding how do a resolution and get feedback and discussion- we need only look back to 2018 when now Executive Board Member Sarah Dallas brought a substantive IF resolution.  She planned ahead - solicited feedback, answered questions, added seconders and supporters - all virtually. No one was left out.  Following Sarah's path, in 2019, Council passed a resolution brought on behalf of GLBTRT [now  Rainbow RT].  

    Below we the instructions on how to respond and all of the work of revising, word-smithing, discussing was done on the Council list.

    Let's keep the discussion going.