ALA Council

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last person joined: 17 days ago 

  • 1.  Committee Audit

    Posted 12 days ago

    Several years ago, there was wide interest in carrying out a rigorous audit of  ALA and Council committees and other groups. The goal was to find  appropriate opportunities for elimination,  integration and simplification. This came on the heels of the  brave and successful consolidation of ALCTS, LITA and LLAMA int a single new division Core. The Association is in trouble. We need bold actions to strengthen ALA financially and strategically. I thought this was left in the hands of COO.  Can the President, Executive Director, and Chair of COO report to Council on this matter in San Diego?  Can we talk about this here. 

    James Neal
    Univ Librarian Emeritus

  • 2.  RE: Committee Audit

    Posted 12 days ago
    Hi Jim, I read your question as a possible "what should ALA be doing" conversation starter -- a conversation that would be necessary before we could effectively reorganize ALA Committees.

    Libraries, writ large, face even larger (and more) challenges now than we did 10-15 years ago (when we (ALA) were better resourced). When we say "the Association is in trouble", do we mean financially? existentially? some-other-"-ially"? How are we in our own way / how can we get out of our own way? 

    Is ALA's problem due to the number of committees? Is the problem that we (ALA) keep trying to be everything for everyone? Is the problem that ALA members and staff are spread too thin? Is the problem something else?
    • How do we (ALA) figure out what our priorities are?
    • How do we (ALA) currently spend our revenues?
    • What focus areas stand out as successes? 
    • What focus areas need more attention (or need external partners) for success?
    • In which ALA focus areas are we (ALA) the lone or one of a few voices advancing our (ALA) goals)?
    • In which ALA focus areas could we refocus our engagement to supporting other organizations' efforts (and reorganize our resource commitments to be more active in spaces where we are a lone voice or one of a few voices advancing ouir (ALA) goals)?
    These (and so many others) are tough questions, with no easy answers.

    One of the lessons from our series of internal-facing efforts to reorganize ALA (SCOE, TAG, Forward Together, etc.) is that there are lots of members with ideas and lots of people willing to engage with ALA efforts -- how can we energize members (and others) to be engaged with external-facing ALA initiatives and efforts to protect and advance policies that support libraries writ large? How can we fund these initiatives and efforts?

    In my view, we (ALA) need to prioritize our external-facing efforts, to continue to build and maintain partnerships with other organizations where there are several organized voices working toward our (ALA) goals, to refocus our resources on goals where we are a lone voice or one of very few voices working toward our (ALA) goals.


  • 3.  RE: Committee Audit

    Posted 12 days ago
    Forgive my quick and shirt reply but wanted to address in a timely manner...

    COO has begun this work with a survey that has gone out to all committee chairs. This is a precursor to conversations that COO members will have as followup. 

    ALA staff is also helping with some data collection. 

    I will update Council at Annual. 


  • 4.  RE: Committee Audit

    Posted 10 days ago

    I am curious as to the information Jim has been provided with that has made him state that ALA is 'trouble.'

    When I read Jim's statements, I thought it was reminiscent of the time in January of 2020 when all of a sudden it was revealed that ALA was in financial trouble that Council knew nothing about. It was also the time when ALA executive staff thought that eliminating divisions (ASGCLA), merging other divisions, shrinking Council, etc.  would be the answer to saving ALA money.  

    Having had that experience, from the then president of ASGCLA, I do not believe eliminating parts of the organization or another large reorganization are feasible options for us at this point, especially if we are not aware of the issues that are causing this new call to action. 

    I look forward to learning more from COO, ALA staff, ALA Exec Board members, and discussions on the council floor. 

    Sherry Anderson
    Library System Director
    Northern Waters Library System