Dear Council Members,
As we head into our March 10, 2022 Council meeting, TAG is providing information to you in advance to help you think about where we stand regarding transforming ALA's governance, what we hope to achieve in the upcoming meeting, and discussions we plan to convene in the months leading up to Annual in June. No one wants this work to extend indefinitely. We are hopeful that we can make decisions soon that will propel us forward.
At our January Council Meetings, consensus was found in the following areas:
In January, it was determined that the Council prefers a one body model. This has been approved in concept. The composition of this body will be determined in upcoming meetings prior to the Annual meeting in June.
We voted to accept, in concept, six guiding principles regarding function:
We also voted to accept, in concept, seven guiding principles related to culture:
There appears to be consensus that regardless of its function, Council will benefit from reducing the number of Councilors. Discussion of the composition of the Council including the final size will happen in a series of meetings to be convened by TAG in the months leading up to the Annual Conference in June.
At the March 10, 2022 Council meeting, we hope to determine whether it is the will of Council to become an advisory body or remain a policy making body. The TAG task force recommends that Council become an advisory body.
It's important that our governance structure is set up to best work for our Association. The current structure has Council as the policy making body, but the Executive Board has the fiduciary responsibilities and frequently acts on behalf of Council. In most organizations, the fiduciary and policy responsibilities reside in the same body. This model would bring clarity regarding governance to members.
As an advisory body, Council could take on a greater role in discussing and debating relevant and timely issues without getting bogged down in procedure. Focus on process rather than substance sometimes takes on a conversation of its own and valuable meeting time is lost. As an advisory body, matters would come to Council where they could make recommendations and craft policy for Board consideration. Councilors bring rich expertise and a range of experiences to the work of Council and it is imperative that they serve as a Body of Knowledge to the Association. Every Council meeting should be an opportunity to strategize, create solutions, and bring awareness to current and relevant issues of libraries.
If Council is an Advisory Body, how would policy get made?
Policy could come from a variety of places.
With the approval of Action Items 1 and 2, Council identified six guiding principles regarding function and seven principles regarding culture as outlined above. Governance will benefit from the oversight that Taking ALA's Pulse would bring. This is envisioned as a way to continually look at effectiveness and responsiveness of all areas of governance. There would also be value in introducing an agenda committee to work in tandem with the Resolutions Committee with the charge of aiding the creation of agenda that are relevant to the priorities and work of ALA. With these in place, membership could have confidence in the work of ALA leadership with an advisory model.
The Action item for Council's consideration at the March 10 meeting is as follows:
Moved, That the TAG Task Force's mandate be extended until the ALA Council determines that its work has been completed, that the motion on the ALA governance structure that was included in part C of the TAG Taskforce's report (as amended by Council) be sent back to the Taskforce for further consideration, and that the TAG Taskforce be directed to proceed as follows:
Arrange to have a virtual Council Meetings scheduled for March, April and May 2022, with the purpose of continuing the discussion of the TAG Task Force's recommendations;
Direct, That, in preparation for the virtual Council meetings, the TAG Task Force develop and present for Council's consideration its proposed composition of a reduced size ALA Council, functioning as an advisory body, and that the TAG Task Force also present options for the proposed composition of the new ALA Executive Board;
Direct, That, in preparation for the virtual Council meetings, the TAG Task Force prepare, for Council's consideration, ideas to advance the implementation of the `Taking ALA Pulse' (TAP) concept, as a method of bringing feedback and issues from ALA Members, Units and Affiliates for Council's consideration in its potentially added role as a Body of Knowledge; and
Direct, That, in preparation for the virtual Council meetings, the TAG Taskforce present, for Council's consideration, measures that could promote the culture for the effective functioning of ALA Council, with such measures including, but not limited to, improvements to the Council agenda development process, Council evaluation tools, Exit interviews, and more.
Although TAG is recommending that Council be an Advisory body, it is recognized that retaining Council as a policy making body has support. To that end, and in the interest of time management at the upcoming meeting, this amendment could be introduced and substituted:
Moved, That the motion be amended by replacing in part 2 "advisory" by "policy making".
What happens next?
TAG will be hosting an information session for Councilors on Wednesday, Mar 2, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. CT for Council members to discuss the above motion and ask questions. A Zoom link will be sent out closer to the date. Any one who is unable to attend the meeting, is welcome to ask questions about the motion any time prior to the Council meeting on the 10th. My email address is email@example.com. TAG's goal is to have people as informed as possible going into the March meeting, so please don't hesitate to send questions to me or any other TAG members.
If the motion passes on March 10, either as written or amended, TAG would then plan a series of discussions for Council leading up to June Council meetings. These would begin in late March with the goal of having well defined motions for votes at the Annual meeting. Topics of these TAG lead meetings will include Council & Board composition, TAP oversight & review, and Council effectiveness.
Thank you all for your willingness to explore the future of ALA Governance. I truly believe we are on a path to creating a more responsive, effective, efficient, and inclusive governance structure.
Amy Lappin, Chair
On behalf of the Transforming ALA Governance Task Force
Thank you for this great summary and overview of the TAG situation. If we move toward the Council acting in an advisory capacity, and the Executive Board adds policy-making to its duties, I fear we risk losing adequate representation for the diverse groups of librarians. Professional librarians from smaller libraries and from school libraries often lack the CV experience to run for or get elected to the Executive Board, thus eliminating their voices in actual adoption of policies. If this is the case, I fear that in the attempts to address efficiencies – because let's face it, Council meetings take time, and due to the sheer number of participants it can be difficult to manage - we risk becoming less representative, less effective and diluting our impact as an organization. (...And we all know that recommending action doesn't really have any weight. I worry the important discussions of council – where all library types and sizes are represented – will be less robust when councilors know the Executive Committee won't benefit from the details of the debate.)
I am a new councilor so I came to this conversation a little late. Am I missing something? I would love to connect with someone more knowledgeable to talk this through.
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