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.
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?
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
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.
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.
...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.
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?
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/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?MessageKey=c82b2bcd-aae6-4737-8f07-e05de324a87d#comment-58278.
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