ALA Council

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Executive Director Search

  • 1.  Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 07:59 AM

    Message to ALA 2017-18 Council Members from ALA President Jim Neal:


    Council Colleagues:


    The ALA Executive Board met on October 26-27 to discuss next steps in the executive director search. We met with Courtney Young, chair of the search committee, Dan Hoppe, director of human resources at ALA, and a representative of the search firm to review the process and outcome of the search.


    The Board took the following actions, all unanimously supported:


    -  endorsed asking the current members of the search committee and the chair to continue into the next round of the search


    -  endorsed continuing to work with the search firm Isaacson Miller


    -  agreed to review the position posting


    -  endorsed changing the educational requirements to a preferred ALA accredited Master’s Degree or CAEP accredited Master’s Degree with a specialty in School Media, as per the search committee recommendation


    -  endorsed moving the question of the change in educational requirements to Council for online debate and electronic vote


    On the matter of Council debate and vote, I move on behalf of the ALA Executive Board, that the educational requirements for the ALA executive director position be changed to a preferred ALA accredited Master’s Degree or CAEP accredited Master’s Degree with a speciality in School Media.


    Discussion of this resolution by members of ALA Council will proceed on ALA Connect during November 2-12. ALA Governance Office staff will post documents to ALA Connect for Council members to review as part of the discussion, including materials and the transcript from the 2017 Midwinter debate. Please conduct all discussion on ALA Connect and not on the Council list.


    ALA Council will then proceed to an electronic ballot and vote on the resolution via Connect poll during November 13-20. This is not an anonymous poll as people’s names with be associated with their votes as they are in open Council meetings. The results of the vote will be announced on November 21.


    Thanks, Jim Neal.



  • 2.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 08:55 AM

    It would be helpful to know whether there were candidates in the first round who would have been strongly considered for the Executive Director position if they had had the MLS or equivalent, but who were not considered because they lacked only that credential.



  • 3.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:03 AM

    While I understand that a reversal of the two resolutions passed by Council requiring the MLS for this position would allow the Search Committee to move forward in the way that they (and the Executive Board) would like, I have strong reservations about the advisability of taking an online vote for a decision of this magnitude.  I would prefer that this motion be introduced at Midwinter so that a discussion can take place on the Council floor instead.



  • 4.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:15 AM
    Sandra, there were no applications from individuals 
    who did not have the required Master’s Degree. Several
    individuals who have other educational credentials 
    did speak with the search firm. Jim. 
    Sent from my iPhone



    On Nov 2, 2017, at 7:56 AM, ALA Connect <connect@ala.org> wrote:



  • 5.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:24 AM

    I have no problem with the discussion and voting on this issue taking place online in Connect.  We never have 100% attendance at Council meetings and at least with an online discussion and vote everyone can participate. The issue was fully debated on Council floor and the vote was close (won by 3 votes??).

    I don't think we should wait to discuss again in person. Let's move on.  Candidates with an MLS or CAEP certainly are welcome to apply and I'm sure will be considered.



  • 6.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:24 AM

    I have no problem with the discussion and voting on this issue taking place online in Connect.  We never have 100% attendance at Council meetings and at least with an online discussion and vote everyone can participate. The issue was fully debated on Council floor and the vote was close (won by 3 votes??).

    I don't think we should wait to discuss again in person. Let's move on.  Candidates with an MLS or CAEP certainly are welcome to apply and I'm sure will be considered.



  • 7.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:26 AM

    Thank you, Jim and everyone else involved, for getting us to this point! It's clear how complex and nuanced your consideration throughout the process has been.

    I voted for the corresponding resolution at Annual, and I plan to vote for this one. My reasons are the same: ALA serves libraries and librarians, but it is not a library itself. The Executive Director needs to be an exemplary association executive, which is its own profession with its own practices, competencies, and capabilities.

    At the same time, of course, the successful candidate should share our values and library ethos. The MLS is one possible proxy for assessing that qualification. However, our values as a profession are not some secret knowledge revealed through a credential: they comprise broad views about the world and how people and information should move through it. If we've done our job as a profession in advocating for our values, people without the degree or a librarian background will join us in enacting those values. That's advocacy. And we need a library advocate in the ED role who can manage an extremely complicated organization with our professional ethos at the center of complex decisions.

    By requiring the degree for the Executive Director, we imply a specific educational background is necessary to really understand our profession's values. Are our values really that opaque?



  • 8.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:30 AM
    John, that was actively debated by members of 
    the Executive Board. As online discussion and 
    vote are covered in the by-laws, and as we want 
    to proceed with the search process with expedition, 
    whichever direction the Council endorses, the
    decision was made to proceed in this way. If
    we delay the vote until February Midwinter, we 
    would not be able to relaunch the recruitment 
    until March. The Executive Board also received 
    recommendation from all except one division
    board to proceed in this way. Jim. 
    Sent from my iPhone



    On Nov 2, 2017, at 8:10 AM, ALA Connect <connect@ala.org> wrote:



  • 9.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 09:50 AM

    I fully support the recommendation of the Executive Director, the ALA Executive Board and the Director Search Committee to broaden the job description to MLS preferred.  As I stated during the previous discussions, adding candidates with a MLS or CAEP broadens the pool. Per Jim's comment above, "online discussion and vote are covered in the by-laws".  In NY, the professional organization, the New York Library Association's executive director does not have a MLS degree.  He thoroughly understands the important role of libraries in the community - school libraries, academic libraries, special libraries, public libraries .... He works with the NYLA Council, sections, roundtables and membership.  He is able to see library issues with an objective eye and listens to the field.  

    One does not need a MLS degree to understand our core values.  Let's broaden the language and move on - there are important issues taking place nationally and internationally that need our attention.



  • 10.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 10:24 AM

    I support discussing and voting on this recommendation online,

    Previously I opposed dropping the MLS requirement.  In light of the experience of the Search Committee, I now plan to vote for the recommended change trusting that the Search Committee will find someone fully committed to our core values and who understands the complexities of our organization and its members.  Thanks very much to the committees for your efforts.

    Doug



  • 11.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 10:32 AM

    I too support dropping the MLS requirement. ALA faces many of the same challenges other associations face.

    Our core values are pretty straight forward and I wouldn't hire someone who had problems with them, but they are completely unique to our industry.

    I would prefer to have a professional association manager manager our association. We deserve to have a professional leading the staff side of our association. Let's get a leader in that profession on board to help us.



  • 12.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 11:19 AM

    Dear Colleagues,

    I have been following this conversation for some time now. Since it seems that there is much determination to seek an executive director who is not a librarian to lead us, I hope that we in the membership will obtain some more explanatory details from our leaders.

    Until then, I will continue to wonder why it is that the American Bar Association has a longtime lawyer with a law degree leading the helm, the American Medical Association has a longtime physician and MD as their executive director, yet now we have passionate people in the library field asserting that libraries would be better off represented by a professional association that is not led by a professional librarian.

    I assume that these conversations will lead us to consider whether our commitment and significant investment in accrediting library programs is taking the profession in a constructive direction.

    Recently I have read a number of articles asserting that hospitals are best run by doctors rather than by bureaucrats; the assumption is that it takes someone who has practiced in the field to fully understand the industry they represent.  Similarly, it has always seemed to me that only someone who has served as a credentialed librarian can completely understand our context.

    Since so many of my colleagues feel otherwise, I look forward to hearing why and gaining a better understanding of their position.

    Sincerely,

    Melora Ranney Norman



  • 13.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 12:31 PM

    See relevant policy post lower in thread:
    http://connect.ala.org/comment/89314#comment-89314



  • 14.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 12:31 PM

    In an email to the Council list, JoAnn requested that we post our comments to this motion on the Documents and Discussion Connect page. In order for the the input from Councilors to be properly seen and recorded, I ask that we move this there. That's where I'm about to post.



  • 15.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 12:34 PM
    For people (like me) who have questions/concerns about the validity of this undertaking, I will summarize what I find in the documentation and provide links to various related areas of the Policy Manual and the Bylaws.
    If I've missed something, I would be interested to know -- Governance junkies, sharpen your pencils!
     
    Summary: Upon review, contrary to my initial supposition, it looks to me like Executive Board:
    1. can, per policy, call for a Council vote by mail  (Bylaws II.5.b) 
      (vote by mail includes online voting, per Bylaws XI)
    2. is not asserting that this is a meeting (Bylaws II) 
      (if the online discussion counted as a meeting, then the request would have had to be made 90 days in advance & with 30 days notice to membership, per Bylaws II)
    3. is distributing the ballot question at least 2 weeks in advance (Policy A.4.2.5.3) 
      (which would need to be 30 days if this were a meeting agenda, per Bylaws II)
    4. has specified a time limit for voting (Bylaws II.5.e)
     
    For the vote to be valid:
    1. at least 50% of all Council members must cast a vote (Bylaws II.5.b II.5.c)
    (it will be important to ensure that only Councilors can vote)
     
    For the motion to pass:
    2. at least 75% of votes cast must approve (Bylaws II.5.b II.5.c)
     
    Documentation of policy & procedures and how they affect process follow. 
    Process follows policy rather than the other way around - at my day job I've asserted "the policy of the institution should not be: ignore existing policy"
     
    Looking at the Policy Manual:
     
    A.4.2 is Council-related stuff & A.4.2.5 is Policies on Council Procedures.
    A.4.2.5.1 requires attendance tracking at meetings
    A.4.2.5.3 requires agenda distribution at least 2 weeks prior to meetings
    A.4.2.5.6 requires reporting votes of Council in 
     
    Looking at the Bylaws:
     
    Article II is Meetings
    II.2 is Special Meetings 
    "Special meetings of the Association may be called by the Executive Board, and shall be called by the President on request of not less than five percent of the voting members of the Association as of the previous July 1, such request to be filed with the executive director at least ninety days before the proposed meeting. At least one month’s notice shall be given, and only the business specified in the call shall be transacted."
    II.5 is Votes by Mail
    II.5.b "The Executive Board may authorize votes by mail of both the Association and of the Council between meetings."
    II.5.c "For votes by Council, fifty percent of the voting membership shall constitute a quorum and a three-fourths majority of those voting shall be required to carry."
    II.5.e Enumerates time limit options after distribution of question on a ballot and related variables
     
    Article IV is Council
    IV.1.b requires at least two meetings annually (Annual and Midwinter are specified) and that the President may call another meeting and shall at the request of 20 or more members
     
    Article XI is Voting by Mail
    XI.1 specifies Votes of the Association by mail

    Straight link to alacoun email I just sent:
    http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2017-11/msg00003.html



  • 16.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 12:39 PM

    Melora raises some very valid and important issues, and I completely share her point of view.  And thank you, Melora, for contributing your thoughts to this discussion.

    Council has voted twice on this issue; both times the result was the requirement for the MLS degree.  Would we be taking a third vote if the search committee had actually identified viable candidates from the first pool?  I suspect not.  Since it appears that Council will indeed be voting electronically on this motion, I urge councilors to keep in mind that we are not setting policy merely for this particular search, but for all future Executive Director searches.



  • 17.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 01:49 PM
    As a newly elected (returning) councilor, I didn't participate in earlier debates/discussion regarding the MLS/non-MLS decision.  For me, the MLS is preferential, but not a requirement.  Having led many searches, I know that a recruitment effort can fail for a variety of reasons and it is not clear to me why this search failed.  So, I'd like to know:
     
    • What is it we are trying to fix?  The endorsements offer some clues but not necessarily a rationale for re-opening the search process.  For me, the endorsements raise more questions than simply the matter of MLS/non-MLS.  
    • Did Isaacson Miller fail to provide an acceptable pool of candidates? 
    • Was the "net" cast widely enough to capture a diverse pool of candidates?  
    • How many applications were received?
    • What is meant by "review the position posting"?  Does this mean where its posted?
    • Was there sufficient disagreement among members of the search committee about the candidate pool and/or position description that resulted in a "hung-jury" style conclusion?
     
    I understand that there must be a degree of confidentiality in the process - but I'd like to know (as much as possible), that we are debating and solving the right problem.
     
    Martín Gómez
    Councilor at Large


  • 18.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 02:00 PM
    To be clear, we can discuss now.  But when would the voting of Council take place?
    On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 2:41 PM, ALA Connect <connect@ala.org> wrote:


  • 19.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 02:08 PM

    The RUSA Board supports the recommendation of the Executive Director, the ALA Executive Board and the Director Search Committee to broaden the job description to MLS preferred.  

    The RUSA Board also supports for Council to proceed with online discussion and voting of this matter.

    Sarah J. Hammill

    RUSA Councilor



  • 20.  RE: Executive Director Search

    Posted Nov 02, 2017 02:09 PM