Can you imagine how much time would be wasted for the vast majority of members attending a session WHEN those individuals who must make a comment, or react to every statement made, step up to a virtual microphone? Without a time keeper to limit discussion, I truly feel that most attendees would tune-out of the session quickly.
Also, all technology is not created equally. It is very frustrating when you are unable to communicate with others or hear all conversations during virtual sessions. My experiences have been more negative than positive.
By the way, I do not know how a meeting could be arranged that would accommodate the various time zones of all members. (This was good point made by a member in the email discussions.)
Just my thoughts...
I think this would be a good supplement to our FTF meetings, NOT a replacement for them. ALA would need to invest in high-quality technology AND proper training so we can get the most out of this format. There is nothing worse than poorly done virtual meetings! But, that is not necessarily the norm.
I agree with you that virtual meetings would never completely replace in-person meetings. Thanks for commenting!
Thanks for taking the time to comment. The spread of time zones would be a challenge.
I wanted to point out that timekeeping on speakers would be pretty straightforward, especially if we use audio or video, which I hope our eventual software would do. The control of the microphones and webcams in most web conferencing packages is firmly in the control of the moderator. So if someone started to exceed their three minutes, they would have their virtual mic silenced and we'd move on to the next speaker. It has the potential to be a smoother transition than when someone refuses to give up a microphone in person.
I believe virtual discussions would improve deliberations at Council . However, virtual discussions would require a process of recording or tracking discussions of issues and the result of discussions presented at Council meetings. Some may believe this would shorten Council meetings but I think the opposite would be true.
Virtual discussions (rather than email communications) would have immediate responses and generate more ideas during the forum. Virtual discussions would be helpful to have prior to Council based on the documents received or input from Councils who have items to share for discussion.
Thanks for kickstarting this poll. B and C are double-barreled (in other words, they present two separate questions) but in the spirit of "let's do a quick poll" I'll pick B, which I think means I am in favor of supplementing f2f Council meetings with virtual meetings. I would particularly like to see virtual meetings approx 3 - 4 weeks prior to ALA and then 3 to 4 weeks after ALA. I would also like to see Council call emergency meetings during those rare but important times when Council's voice should not wait six months.
Some of the concerns expressed above and elsewhere are not well-founded. Deliberating in an online environment does not preclude having a managed conversation. Most Councilors have the technical wherewithal to participate electronically, and just as we expect people to take nearly two weeks of their lives, with concomitant expenditures, to meet face-to-face, if we are really serious about Council being a governing body, we can expect Councilors to figure out how to participate online.
Most online products enable recording the sessions, which provides another level of access for members.
The recent Virtual Membership Meeting was a great example of a "win" for virtual participation. Big thanks to Barb Stripling for so ably leading that meeting.
I have concerns about virtual meetings if any decisions are being made. ALA Policy A.7.4.4 plainly mandates that all meetings be open to the membership and the press. The Council elist is open on a read only basis for anyone who wants to subscribe. Making a virtual meeting open is but one logistical hurdle. With the number of other logistical issues and possible costs, while I am interested in virtual meetings and open to them, I want to see a lot more work done before we even start talking implementation.
PS Remember we have at least one Councilor who is in Guam, so we are talking about time zones past Hawaii.
There have been some great comments in the last few days - I agree it is an idea to be further considered, but I don't think these four options give me a choice I can sign on. Much more research needs to be done. I don't think we should ever reach a point (well, ever might be too long) that we never meet F2F - there are too many accidental side meetings that happen standing in the hall chatting which are incredibly less likely to happen online where conversation is generally much more intentional.
Dorcas Hand, Councilor at Large
The open meeting requirement is easily met by publishing the link Council would be meeting at and allowing anyone to join, like our recent virtual ALA Membership meeting. As mentioned in another comment I made here, everyone would initially have their mikes disabled so could only speak after they were recognized. Council members could be identified by "Council" after their names so it would be easier for the chair to recognize them.
I agree with you that there is considerable work involved prior to any implementation. The first step is to see if there is any will to do it at all, which is what I hope will come out of this poll and discussion.
Then there would need to be a review of bylaws and possibly the open meeting law of MA. Then some sort of software review committee would need to be gathered and business requirements, including that of accessibility, would need to be written up. And so on. But as the cliche goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I am unequivocally in favor of holding one extra meeting per year virtually, to keep Council III on schedule and to help Council learn how to do virtual meetings. I disagree with some of the previous comments that virtual should "never" be considered as a replacement for face to face, because (a) we are excluding many potential Councilors by requiring two f2f meetings per year, due to cost. (b) The carbon cost of this practice is also very high. And (c) web conference technologies continue to improve, as does bandwidth.
In the near future, I hope that we allow a virtual participation option for the in-person meetings (stream the closed captioning and the audio; make "virtual" into one of the microphones, with a mechanism for virtually waiting in line; and make online voting for authenticated users a possibility--all doable with current tech). In the slightly more distant future, it very well may be practical to replace Midwinter's meetings with virtual ones, and I do not think we should write off that possibility with words like "never."
I think we might just have to deal with an imperfect time zone issue, for this. Council's meetings are already often being held at 4am (give or take an hour), my time; I don't know about all of you, but I don't immediately snap to synchronicity with the time zone I'm visiting. So it's already hard. It wouldn't be any harder for me to attend a 4am meeting on a weekend if I were at home, in comfortable clothes, with coffee and a snack in front of me--it beats having to shower, eat, and travel down to the conference hotel (since I can't ever afford to stay in the same hotel where we hold Council), all before our 4am meeting. (Then again, I don't have children. If someone else in a far-flung time zone disagrees with me, that's fine, too.)
To address one of the other threads I'm seeing about timing: it isn't as if someone would send out a Doodle poll a month before we held the meeting. We'd set it up well in advance, like we do for conferences, and people would make the time to attend, the same way we make the time for conference attendance--only at way less cost.
I think sometimes people downplay the importance of a meeting, just because it happens at a distance; we wouldn't do that. We would treat it as a real Council meeting (because it would be), and we would attend it and pay attention, like we do with in-person Council meetings.
Thanks for commenting! Your point that you can take a person out of their time zone, but not the time zone out of the person is well taken. Especially when I go to the East Coast, it takes me nearly a week to feel fully in sync with the local time.
I am certainly for using technology to advance communicationwithin our association. This current space on connect is ideal to share ourthoughts and is ideal for pre-conference and post conference discussions. Thefloor of Council is reserved for transacting the business of ALA, including debateand votes on ALA policy. I have read the thoughts of our fellow councilors proand con of a virtual Council meeting.
In addition to other observations made here, I believethat our parliamentary procedures seem to work best with face to face interactions.At this time I can’t conceive of the chair simultaneously presiding over avirtual and live body (unless we are only considering virtual meetings). Beyond that whenthere is debate on the floor of Council I sometimes rely on Councilors sittingnear me for clarification. I would miss that f2f interaction if participated virtually. I support f2f Council sessions that aresupplemented by pre and post virtual Council meetings that discuss and recapthe issues.Julius
One example of a time that could work for everyone might be right now as I write this. As I write this, it is 8am Saturday morning in Guam. It is 2pm Friday here in Alaska and 6pm Eastern. If we were to have a three hour meeting, Guam would finish by 11am, I'd finish by 5pm and my fellow councilors would finish up around 9pm Friday, which is earlier than we wrap up at Council Forums.
I do want everyone following this thread that no one is proposing an either/or. Finding a way to hold online meetings in an open and accessible way does not preclude us from meeting in person at Conference.
I think you would have more people run for a spot on the ALA board. People who can't attend because of money. My position ended after my first year as councillor. I am paying to attend out of my own pocket. I have been on several virtual committees and it has worked very well.
I am appending my comments below about virtual accessibility (or lack thereof) that I wrote on the Council list. Like many others, I would be amenable to supplemental virtual meetings interspersed with Face to Face meetings but I think the governing Council, like most other governing bodies, must primarily meet in person and with ample time to debate and vote on issues. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming a virtual democracy. - Mike M.
Sent to Council List on 7/10/2014:
If Council does decide to try a pilot virtual meeting I would insist that accessible meeting software be utilized. ALA’s current meeting software options are not accessible, though perhaps this would be an incentive to try Accessible Event (a software that pairs with commercial, non-accessible software), or the premium version of WebEx rather than the less expensive, audio only for the print-disabled WebEx platform that was used for the Virtual Membership meeting. Opal-Online is also accessible if it’s still around. By accessible I mean the ability for a person with a print disability to use screen magnification or screen reader software, or hearing impaired person to use captioning, utilize text chat, follow power point slides, web pages, or documents posted by a moderator, and the ability to speak via VO/IP. The other option would be a teleconference, but that could get pretty unwieldy for more than 10-20 participants.
While we’re figuring out ways to gradually transition to some virtual Council meetings, I do want to lament the diminution of Council 3 and hope we can find a way to give it the full breadth and scope it deserves.
Mike L. Marlin, DirectorCalifornia Braille and Talking Book LibraryALA Councilor-at-LargeSacramento, CAEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone: (916) 651-0812Toll Free in CA: (800) 952-5666
From: Jennifer Boettcher [mailto:email@example.com]Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:34 PMTo: Romans, LarryCc: firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: [alacoun] Re: Virtual Council Meetings--other considerations
I think Councils where voting happens is not a good idea now, until the technology and culture catches up. That is why I suggested Forums, where things can be discussed. Then posted conversations on Connnect for others to time shift their opinions.
Jennifer Boettcher, MLS and MBABusiness, Economics, and Policy Information ConsultantGeorgetown UniversityOffice hours: by appointment between April 29-Aug 25, 2014
email@example.com 687-7495Skype: gu.buslibCo-Author of "Industry Research Using the Economic Census," (Greenwood Press, 2004)Honored with the 2010 Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship
On Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:34 PM, Romans, Larry <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I think that there’s more that is involved in virtual Council meetings than simply access to the Internet and a computer.
First is the scale of the virtual meeting—almost 200 people. How do we find a time that everyone—or even most people—can meet? I’ve found that to be almost impossible for a committee of ten; it would be much harder for a group of almost 200. How about trying to decide who speaks next? How about if you pick a time for which I have a conflict and you vote to do something I oppose?
Second is that while most of us can dial in with little trouble to have a virtual meeting by phone, the more advanced the technology, the more troubles that ensue. The GLBTRT tried fairly straightforward options that included chat that we eventually had to abandon because too many people (younger than me!) had problems getting the technology to work for them.
Vanderbilt University Central Library
Nashville, TN 37203-2427
From: K.G. Schneider [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2014 5:43 PMTo: firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: [alacoun] Re: RE: Re: Re: Re: RE: Re: Re: Re: RE: Council III (was Withdrawing request to split OFC Report)
On Wed, Jul 9, 2014, at 03:28 PM, John Sandstrom wrote:
I agree that a virtual meeting would be nice, but some councilors do not have access to the technology needed to take part in one.
So, just to be clear, Councilors are assumed to have access to the resources to travel twice a year around the country for five or six days at a time, but they lack Internet access and a computer... anywhere? With all due respect to John S., no... I'm not buying that.
As for the trade-offs, a nice outcome of having just met face-to-face is that there is a "recency" effect where we will still have lingering memories of our dear colleagues' faces (and perhaps other salutary attributes, q.v. Peter Hepburn's lovely jacket at C-III).
There are trade-offs for all formats. A nice plus of online meetings outside of the regular conference would be how easy it would be for members to drop in to observe the action, something that is difficult to do when we meet at conferences (either members aren't at ALA, and can't drop in, or they are at ALA, and they are busy). the "chat" feature found in most webinar products might dissuade some of us from our cryptic Tweets and redirect us to sidebar discussions everyone could follow if they chose to.
Karen G. Schneider
Councilor at Large
I'm wondering if a virtual Council Forum just prior to the Midwinter & Annual meetings would be useful? Councilors could bring up topics as we do when we meet in person. Perhaps that would give some us a heads up to what issues need more work or research.
Much of what has been written has clearly outlined the challenges that need to be addressed for making virtual meetings successful.
I'd like to suggest that if there is agreement to pilot virtual meetings for Council, that we be sure to check on what, exactly, needs to be accomplished in the meeting (be it full council or forum) and then design a process that works well for our success on the online environment rather than assume what works in a F2F format translates to the exact same style online.
As I've said before, I believe there should always be a mechanism allowing Councilors to participate virtually in any F2F session (and to comment and vote, as appropriate) on matters before Council physically even if they cannot attend in person. Likewise, I believe there are many, relatively routine matters that come before Council that could either be approved through a virtual meeting ahead of a F2F meeting (memorials, tributes, etc.) or presented at a virtual meeting and then quickly approved as part of a "consent agenda" at the start of Council I (though I prefer the former option to the latter). Aside from my parallel concern that Midwinter itself is unsustainable in its current form, I believe Council policies and procedures regarding official participation must adapt to an environment where multiple trips to ALA (much less to divisional programming or specialized programming directly relevant to one's work) are increasingly difficult for an increasing number of our colleagues.
I see several interesting ideas in here. A virtual council forum, in particular, seems useful -- a great chance to lay out some of the ideas that folks are hoping to address during the upcoming council sessions. Coral Sheldon-Hess makes a good point that a relatively small virtual meeting now could help smooth any future transition to a larger virtual component to council.
I like the idea of having more online discussion of topics before and after Council, but in so far as having an actual virtual meeting I'm not sold yet. I think virtual participation is something we should be doing, though, because if you take out a "meeting time" everyone has a chance to read, review and comment at their own pace. We can limit the amount of time given to discuss topics here on Connect or on the list, or we can leave discussion wide open for however long the discussion naturally goes, but I think that falls more into the "forum" category than the "meeting" category. I'm even willing to vote on topics virtually provided that there has been plenty of time for discussion beforehand and a clear timeline set for it. I think that this kind of advance discussion, with more of us involved than can make it to f2f forum sessions, may make our actual meetings run a little better. I don't often comment, but I do read everything that lands in my inbox.
Thought folks might enjoy this take on virtual meetings.
Thanks for sharing the fun video. If we were debating meeting by teleconference, I'd definitely be against the idea tho. For many of the same problems as shown by the video.
Once again, thanks for the mental health break.
As a new member I am hesitant to comment, but I believe it's worth considering, especially since a Tuesday morning meeting, when Elvis and everyone else has left the building, seems like a bit of a waste of resources.
It's good to hear from all Council members regardless of how new or long-established they may be. Welcome aboard Council, and may you always feel comfortable contributing!
Rivkah, what a nice welcoming message. I think all of us continuing members agree with you welcome.
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From: ALA Connect [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2014 11:10 AMTo: Lizbeth BishoffSubject: [ALA Connect] ALA Council - How do you feel about having virtual Councilsessions? This is a non-binding question from Daniel Cornwall and JenniferBoettcher. (New comment)
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