Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) Project: Discussion Forum

last person joined: 6 months ago 

This space is for all those interested in Forward Together: Recommendations for a reimagined American Library Association governance model to receive updates on the progress of the recommendations and participate in discussion.
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This space was originally created to share the work of the Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) who was charged in June 2018 to carry out a comprehensive review and study of ALA’s governance, member participation and legal structures and systems, with the goal of proposing changes that will vitalize its success, strength and agility as a 21st century association. The results of this committee are the Forward Together recommendations.

SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

  • 1.  SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 15, 2019 06:10 PM
    Edited by Sarah Pritchard Sep 16, 2019 08:35 AM
    ​Dear Lessa and colleagues,  I waited to add more comments to this very long thread, hoping others might already make similar comments to what I'm now saying. But they have not, so I hope you have a chance to see this as you meet this week.  It is not at all clear to me whether anyone -- either on the SCOE team or other ALA members -- has bothered to review the enormous amount of analysis and proposals that emerged from the ALA Structure Revision Task Force (1995-1997), of which I was the chair.  It had broad member representation, solicited lots of input, and was not without contentiousness.  It was convened in response to the *failed* proposals to restructure ALA into "four societies."  I'm sure some members remember this set of discussions.  I refer to this history in order to say that I am very familiar with all the arguments pro and con the changes SCOE is proposing.  And I am extremely troubled by, and opposed to, most of them, except perhaps the reduced number of divisions.  The elimination of Council and the reduction in the number of ALA-wide committees not only is highly anti-democratic, but it leaves an impossible workload for the small number of remaining groups -- let us not forget we are all volunteers.  The implication is unavoidable -- not only will ALA lack the fulsome and diverse participation that has been a hallmark of the Association over the last 30-some years, but equally worrisome, there will inevitably be a significant reduction in the scope of issues and advocacy we will be able to address.  I'm just talking about reduction in sheer volume, without speculating on what might be the details of those issues.  The small number of committees, and the very siloed approach through the separate Assemblies, will not achieve the synthesis, interaction, cross-fertilization and convergence that is accomplished through Council.  The Council, in all its vocal debate, is the epitome of the richness of the work of libraries and librarians, and it usefully brings together people from parts of the Association that will in fact still be kept separate in the SCOE proposal.  And for what?  Is the goal of SCOE to save money at conferences?  Encourage participation?  Make operations easier for staff (or even reduce staff)?  It's not clear to me that such goals were well-articulated; or if they were, they seem to have been lost.  The current SCOE proposed structure will result in an impoverished ALA with fewer, rather than more, engaged members.

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    Sarah Pritchard
    Dean of Libraries
    Northwestern University
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  • 2.  RE: SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 15, 2019 07:58 PM
    Edited by Sarah Pritchard Sep 16, 2019 08:33 AM
    This is a P.S. to my own comments above.  I don't mean to suggest that members have not already commented on the negative implications of eliminating the Council; and I support the memo submitted by SRRT.  But this whole examination seems to have been somewhat ahistorical.  Maybe I have not read in enough detail all of the SCOE's meeting minutes.  But there are meaningful reasons why the ALA structure has evolved the way it has -- and most restructuring attempts have ignored the successful aspects of ALA's membership culture.  My belief is that the problem is not so much with the structure and the array of units (and not with the Council), but with the Operating Agreement -- and even more specifically, with the little-known internal staff guidelines ("Operational Practices," American Library Association operational practices).  These are internal guidelines about how business gets done, and indirectly they have a large effect on for example incentives to have shared programs/meetings.  The SRTF made quite a few recommendations to BARC that would have required addressing both these documents in the interest of an easier-to-navigate ALA; most were ignored.

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    Sarah Pritchard
    Dean of Libraries
    Northwestern University
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  • 3.  RE: SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 26, 2019 12:17 PM
    Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing some background of reorganization attempts within the association for the broader group. Prior committee work, task force work, kitchen table conversations, membership surveys and studies, and more informed our work and we wanted to be very mindful of what was done before, what were the successes and challenges, and what were the pressure points of previous attempts at changing our various structures within the organization.

    We relied a lot on the lessons learned from these previous groups and are grateful for all of the work that has come before us. This work has allowed today's membership the opportunity to even imagine what ALA members will need from our organization and how ALA can respond to those needs more effectively as our society and our profession rapidly changes. The way we do work, the way we engage not only with each other but our organization, and the way we want to engage with both have some constant threads -- we are looking for connection, advocacy, and meaningful work with like minded people -- but there are also changes in the ways we create these connections and do this work that we hope to address while building on the strengths of our association.

    Our committee is very thankful for engaged members such as yourself to provide us with historical context and input as that input has helped shape and change our work over the last year. We look forward to sharing the next set of recommendations with everyone at the end of October and look forward for more opportunities to engage.

    Best,
    Lessa

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    Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada
    ALA Executive Board Member
    Chair, ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness
    Adult Services Assistant Manager, Palos Verdes Library District
    she/her/hers
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  • 4.  RE: SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 17, 2019 11:08 AM
    Thank you for providing this background, Sarah.  I completely agree with you that the proposal to eliminate Council is a subversion of the democratic process, and I am not only troubled by the SCOE recommendations, but also vehemently opposed to them.  The suggestion that the Executive Board would have the power to appoint individuals to the Board without member involvement of any kind is especially disturbing.
       I fully support the SRRT letter and hope that more Round Tables and divisions will add their signatures.

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    John DeSantis
    Cataloging & Metadata Services Librarian
    Dartmouth College
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  • 5.  RE: SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 26, 2019 12:19 PM
    Thank you for your comments, John. I hope to engage in more conversation around your areas of concern after the next iteration of recommendations debuts over the coming months.

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    Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada
    ALA Executive Board Member
    Chair, ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness
    Adult Services Assistant Manager, Palos Verdes Library District
    she/her/hers
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  • 6.  RE: SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 17, 2019 01:53 PM

    Sarah,

     

    Is there a place to find that information or at least the report of the task force?  Unfortunately I not finding any documents when I search ALA.org

     

    John Sandstrom

     

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

     






  • 7.  RE: SCOE and the history of ALA structure attempts

    Posted Sep 17, 2019 04:50 PM

    It was mostly not digital and is likely in the ALA archives at HQ.  There were a series of reports to Council with updates and recommendations; in some cases action was taken – that was the TF that led to having RT councilors added.

     

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    Sarah M. Pritchard

    Dean of Libraries and

    Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian

    Northwestern University

    1970 Campus Drive

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    www.library.northwestern.edu

    spritchard@northwestern.edu

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