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
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