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TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

  • 1.  TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 16, 2022 05:36 PM
      |   view attached

    Hello Council.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you all virtually or in person next week. The TAG Task Force found the feedback you contributed to the TAG recommendations since the March Virtual Council session to be extremely helpful. 

    In advance of discussions related to TAG proposals at the 2022 ALA Annual Conference, I am sharing the report and recommendations of the task force. This report is the culmination of efforts by many over a number of years. TAG has included a timeline in the report for all who are interested in where we started and how we arrived where we are today. This includes links to a variety of reports for those who wish to have a deeper dive. If anyone has trouble accessing any of the linked reports, please let me know and I will send the document(s) to you. There is a link to a Google doc at the end of this email and an attached Word version.  Even if you have recently seen a draft of TAG recommendations regarding size and composition of Council and the Executive Board, please take a look at the final recommendations in the report as there have been changes  based on discussions over the past few months.

    Our time together at Annual will be limited. I encourage  all Councilors to share questions, reflections, and responses to the report and the action item here on Connect. Additionally, members of the task force and I will attend Council Forum I and look forward to questions and informal discussion. The report will be formally presented, and the recommendations will be voted upon during Council I.

    Many Councilors have asked, "If we vote for the TAG Action Item what happens next?" It is important to note that for any changes to take place, the ALA Constitution and Bylaws will need to be amended. A vote for the TAG Action Item will provide direction to the Constitution and Bylaws Committee in drafting potential new Bylaws, but amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws require certain actions and votes by both Council and the membership.  Our parliamentarians are ready to provide more details regarding the amendment process at Forum I and Council I. 

    Let the conversation begin (or more accurately, let the conversation continue)!


    Amy Lappin

    On behalf of the Transforming ALA Governance Task Force

    Amy Lappin
    Deputy Director
    Lebanon Public Libraries

  • 2.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 12:06 PM
    Hello Councilors,
    Preparing for conference can be a bear and many of you may not have yet had a chance to read and reflect on the TAG Report including an action item that we will vote on at Council I on Saturday. This email is just to encourage you to ask questions as you consider the final TAG recommendations.  If you are wondering about any of the details, others most certainly are too.


    Amy Lappin
    Councilor At-large
    Transforming ALA Governance Task Force, Chair

    Amy Lappin
    Deputy Director
    Lebanon Public Libraries

  • 3.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 12:50 PM
    Thanks Amy!

    Can you share some of the reasoning behind one Chapter Councilor elected from a pool of 53 to the Executive Committee? Board compared with three At-Large from a pool of 18? (Comparing the numbers from #1 and #2.)

    Apologies if there was an explanation at a past TAG session or Council meeting.


  • 4.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 12:59 PM
    Thanks Harriet…..

    I share the same concerns—The “large” states and the “small” states have the same but very different issues.

    California has 39 million+ population and Alaska has 600,000 or so

    I would like TAG to rethink this

    Ann Symons
    A chapter councilor 1985-1993 and always at heart

  • 5.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 01:55 PM
    Hi Harriet and Ann,

    Thank you both. This definitely needs to be clarified and I appreciate the question and comment. I hope I can shed some light here.

    While the Council will be electing the Executive Board (and this was done for clarity in the election process, but also as a way to provide direct Council oversight), the pool of Executive Board candidates is not limited only to the Councilors of the particular unit, Chapter, Round Table, etc. The candidate from Council for the Executive Board seat need only be a member of that group, not necessarily the Councilor from that group. The specific representation criteria was provided to assure that no group was left out, but not to limit candidates. Some examples might help.

    Example 1: 
    The Chapter Executive Board member seat is open. Sadie is an At-large Councilor, but they are also a member of the New York Library Association. Sadie is eligible to run for the Executive Board Chapter seat. 

    Example 2: 
    Glenn is the New Hampshire Chapter Councilor. He is also a member of the Public Library Association. Glenn is eligible to run for a Division seat on the Executive Board. 

    Example 3: 
    Frances is the APALA Councilor. Frances is also a member of the Rainbow RT. She is eligible to run for the Round Table Executive Board seat. 

    Another important clarification: At the time of the election, any current Councilor can run for one of the 3 At-large Executive Board seats. These are open to any councilors who are members of ALA (which is, of course, all Councilors). It is not open to only  At-large Councilors. I wish we had a better name for the At-large Executive Board seats to make it less confusing. 

    While the Committee on Committees will have some work to do in identifying eligible candidates, the TAG task force wanted to ensure a diverse set of voices on the Executive Board. Restricting the candidates to the Councilors for a particular seat seemed too limiting. For example, if the AASL Executive Board member could only be the AASL Councilor, the open pool of candidates for that seat is always only 1. But, if the AASL Executive Board seat can be filled by any current councilor who is also an AASL member, there are more options for representation. 

    There are certainly other ways to go about this. One of TAG's jobs was to offer a set of recommendations providing Council with a direction, but we recognize that TAG's not the only solution.  TAG members read past documents, listened to present concerns, and adapted the recommendations accordingly. Councilors previously expressed that they wanted the Executive Board to be more representative, but remain small. Is there some room for that to grow? Possibly. Would Councilors like to amend the Executive Board to include 2 or 3 Chapter members? You can do that. The question TAG wrestled with is "how big is too big?"  At this point, TAG has given it our truly best shot. Councilors can still debate and amend the Action Item.

    I hope this has helped to clarify and has not added to the confusion. Please let me know if I can make anything clearer or if there are follow up questions. 


  • 6.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 02:18 PM
    Amy—Thank for the clarification

    I get what you are saving but it doesn’t solve what I think is the problem.

    Each state has it’s own library association -sometimes more than 1. The chapters councilors we have are all members of the boards of their library associations.

    So example1: Sadie - she is elected as the Chapter Councilor but she is likely not on the Board of NYLA. Who does she report to? Is she responsible to keeping every state library association informed - from Alaska to New York taking into account all their different needs.

    Example 2: Glenn- under the plan we don’t have chapter Councilors-or we do now. Glen belongs to PLA but he is not a member of the PLA board.

    Example3 - Frances is not a member of RRT Board or any other RT Board.

    I hear your frustration …as chair of TAG and I suspect Council will hear a lot about the composition of the Executive Board.

    In solidarity,


  • 7.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 20, 2022 03:00 PM
    Hi Ann,

    I think those are all fine considerations. 

    In creating reserved seats on the Executive Board, TAG wasn't looking as much at who the Executive Board member is reporting to as much as who they are representing.  Just as it is in the current model, once you are on the Executive Board, your obligation is to all ALA members. TAG's intention was to bring a range of voices and experiences to the board who then hopefully make balanced and informed decisions for the association and its members as a whole. 

    I hope I am not sounding frustrated. If there was only one way to go about this, our work would have been completed long ago.  I truly welcome this discussion! 


    Amy Lappin
    ALA Councilor At-large
    Transforming ALA Governance, Chair

  • 8.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 22, 2022 07:47 AM
    Is there a plan for how to reduce the number of At-Large Councilors from roughly 100 to 18?  Will seats just be eliminated as people rotate off with fewer being elected each year?  If we are going to reduce the number of At-Large Councilors, it seems like we would want to institute term limits as a way to guarantee inclusivity and encourage new participation.  Is that something that has been considered?  Thanks!

    Sonnet Ireland
    Library Director

  • 9.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 22, 2022 11:31 AM
    Hello Sonnet,

    The short answer is that nothing changes until a new Constitution and Bylaws are drafted by the Constitution and Bylaws Committee and then approved by Council. Once that happens, all Councilors who are serving at the time of the final approval will complete their full terms, so the transition will be gradual and wouldn't begin until that time. 

    The longer answer is that if the action item passes, the Constitution & Bylaws committee will begin the work of drafting a new Constitution & Bylaws based on the TAG recommendations. Once the draft is complete, Council will need to vote to approve the draft.  This will require two votes by Council at least 2 months apart. If both votes are in the affirmative, there will be a vote by the entire membership. At-large Councilors would complete their terms after the membership vote.

    There are a few variables depending on what Council decides to affirm and what they might decide to amend. These potential actions can be best explained by our Parliamentarians who will be happy to help us all with understanding the Constitution and Bylaws process depending on Council's decisions at Annual.

    I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have other questions. 


    Amy Lappin
    Transforming ALA Governance Task Force, Chair

    Amy Lappin
    Deputy Director
    Lebanon Public Libraries
    Lebanon, NH 03766

    ALA Councilor-at-Large, 2020-2022

  • 10.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 22, 2022 02:43 PM

    Please correct me if I am reading this wrong- 4/13 of the executive board members are directly elected by membership? That seems awfully low. Perhaps I missed the conversation that included the shift from proposing more EB members were elected directly by membership to this, or I'm conflating all the proposals through the years (totally possible!), but I thought we were trying to move towards more direct member engagement by having at-large board members?

    And, again, I may be misunderstanding, is it being proposed that the 96 members of Council will elect the other 9 positions, all of whom are already Councilors? Rather than Division membership electing a Division rep, or RT electing theirs, etc.?

    And in Council- 53/96 positions are chapter positions, meaning they will always hold the majority? 

    Thank you Amy, and all of TAG, for your patience and explanations in helping me understand, you are all appreciated! 

    -Amber Williams

  • 11.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 23, 2022 06:44 AM
    Hi Amber,

    You are correct, there were TAG model drafts that included more member direct election options for the Executive Board positions. The task force worked hard to find ways to make this work without building in more complexity to the election process. Having dedicated EB seats elected by different groups of members had challenges. 

    As we worked through what that election process would entail from a staff and committee perspective having Chapter and Affiliate members directly elected to the Executive Board, TAG opted to advocate for more representation, but retaining a straightforward process for keeping Council as the body that elects all EB members. In addition to consistency, using the current election process for the Executive Board also provides Council oversight which some found missing from earlier TAG models. 

    We hope that by making for a more representative Council with more Councilors having a body to report to, member engagement will increase.

    As for the 53 Chapter Councilors, TAG's rationale is that each Chapter Councilor brings unique perspectives and concerns from their  individual Chapter. As both a past Chapter Councilor and a current At-large Councilor, it hasn't been my experience that chapters vote as a block. The TAG appreciated that Chapter Councilors are directly responsible to a body of people and while they do bring an individual state association's interests with them, they also are often engaged in bringing ALA opportunities and news back to their Chapters. 

    Certainly, if Council votes to make Council and advisory body, the number of Councilors could grow, but TAG made the decision to try to keep the number to under 100 to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment (for many of the reasons people now like forum).

    I appreciate the questions. As I have said, there is no one right answer to the new structure, but after almost a year of meeting weekly, considering many options, talking options over with various committees and leaders, the TAG recommendations are what the task force thinks will be a strong path forward.

    Please let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions. I have had a lot of time digest all of this and some of what is clear in my head, may not be all that clear to others! It is so important that we all understand what we will be voting on.

    Today is a trains, planes and automobiles day for me as I make my way to DC, so answers may be delayed.


  • 12.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 24, 2022 09:40 AM

    Thank you to the members of TAG and the members of the previous groups that discussed options and brought forward recommendations - this has been a long, arduous, and continuous effort.

    As highlighted in the background section of the TAG report, this effort started out with an overarching goal to "create a more member engaged and modern organization". Lots of feedback was provided and incorporated, discussions of reports noted that some feedback was less prominent or received less attention in various stages,  and discussions around what to do with/for ALA governance have been fairly contentious.

    A few observations as we reflect on, discuss, and ultimately vote on the TAG action item:

    • ALA Council passes resolutions as they are written, floor discussions, author intent, and personal understandings are not binding -- when these are in disagreement with what is written, what is written is what was passed (possibly as amended, but the final written resolution / action item is what stands)
    • ALA Council, as currently defined & as the ALA policy making body, is the most democratic way for members to get engaged with ALA governance and persuade ALA to take action on library-related issues
      • Council often votes overwhelmingly (for or against) on action items brought forward and occasionally ends up with narrowly split votes
      • This is a feature, not a bug
        • When there is an overwhelming or unanimous vote (in either direction) this often reflects broad agreement across the association
        • When there is a split vote (anything split closer than 70/30 or 30/70) this often reflects a topic that needs more exploration before direct action is taken or policy changes are made
        • When there is not an overwhelming majority, it makes sense to be very cautious about making major changes 
    • The TAG action item consists of two (2) parts: 1. making ALA EB the new policy making body and redesigning EB membership, and 2. redesigning ALA Council as a new advisory body to ALA EB and redesigning Council membership
      • Reflecting on the original charge, to make ALA more member engaged, does the action item succeed?
        • does reducing the number of members directly voting on ALA policy and positions (making EB the policy making body) lead to more member engagement?
        • does reducing the number of members serving on an advisory body (reducing the number of Councilors) lead to more member engagement?
    Voting to approve the TAG action item will 1. start the process to formally enact the ALA Exec Board redesign and transfer policy making to the new EB, and 2. start the process to formally enact the changes to the composition of ALA Council as an advisory body.
    • If you support both of these actions, vote yes
    • If you do not support both actions, vote no
    • If you support one but not the other, you cannot split your vote - a yes vote means you are supporting the whole thing
    • If you support some parts but not other parts, a yes vote will enact all parts (even those you disagree with)

    Thanks and apologies if any of this sounded obvious,

    Aaron W Dobbs (he/him)
    Library Support Staff Round Table, President, 2022 - 2023
    Library Support Staff Interests Round Table, President, 2021 - 2022
    ALA Council, Councilor for Small Round Tables, 2019 - 2022
    ALA Resolutions Committee, chair 2021 – 2022, member 2020 - 2022
    ALA Constitution & Bylaws Committee, member 2019 - 2023
    Round Table Member: GODORT, GNCRT, LearnRT, LHRT, LSSRT (formerly LSSIRT & SORT), MAGIRT, NMRT, RMRT
    Division Member: ACRL, Core (formerly LITA & LLAMA), RUSA, UNITED
    Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
    Professor & Library Department Chair
    Scholarly Communication Librarian
    Librarian Liaison for Business
    Librarian Liaison for STEM
    Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties
    Shippensburg University Chapter, President, 2022-2024; Vice President, 2016 - 2022
    Jeffrey W and Jo Anne R Coy Public Library of Shippensburg
    Board of Trustees, President 2022; Trustee 2019 - 2024

  • 13.  RE: TAG Report Including Action Item - Discussion encouraged

    Posted Jun 24, 2022 01:52 PM

    Thank you Aaron.  As usual you've distilled a lot down to the most essential points.   

    Apologies to all  for the length of this post but I wanted to layout where my thinking is right now.  As well as make a few personal comments.  Thanks in advance to those kind enough to hang with me to the end 😊

    I am a typical ALA member and typical Councilor.  I've served 2 terms on Council -- separated by almost 15 years, served on some committees, and always valued the ALA.  I leave Council by choice at the end of this conference and will try to serve the association in other ways.   I think my Council experience is reflective of the norm.  I think the constant influx of new people and perspectives is a good thing.

    I understand that many people have worked hard to get us to where we are today.  I appreciate and honor their work and commitment to ALA.  But I do not support  the direction CD 36 takes us in.  My concerns center in three areas:  Philosophical, Organizational, and Financial.


    • ALA's constitution guarantees ALA will act on member-based initiatives through 2 mechanisms: passing resolutions at membership meetings that Council is required to act on and through a petition process to reverse ALA actions.  Neither process is directly mentioned in the proposals (CD36 and Committee reports) before us.  The message this sends to me is that neither process is important enough to require specific Council direction that it be retained in the re-envisioned ALA.  I've been told to trust the process and wait for the details.  But to me membership-driven initiatives are a fundamental part of ALA's membership-driven culture and should not be left as 'details to be worked out later'.   The absence of these engagement protections that allow members to impact ALA sends a strong message that ALA is moving away from its member driven past to a more corporatized and elitist future.  A message that the engagement ALA will allow is to be highly controlled in the future.
    • ALA is built on a member-centric model – making available member participation opportunities at every level of the organization and resting governance within a large representative body. This is a democratic/legislative model.  The current proposals seem to me to abandon this for an Executive model with little true accountability to the membership.  Doing this in the name of improving member engagement is counter intuitive and I believe will move members farther away from ALA.  It may make ALA more efficient but it could also make ALA less relevant to the people we say we intend to serve.
    • As those who have participated on advisory boards can attest, when a group is advisory over time it has less and less to do and is often ignored. Despite the best of intentions, without a true purpose and authority this re-envisioned Council seems likely to fade into obscurity quickly – leaving the true decision making to a small Executive Board and staff.
    • Our professional values are currently under attack from external sources.  Internally we are having serious trouble developing a consensus as to what those values are, what changes are needed, and how to address those external attacks.  Delegating institutional governance authority to a smaller group of people and turning Council into an advisory body with no authority does not strike me as the way to work through the very serious fractures in the library community at this time.  We need more input from members not less.  I just don't see how this gets us to more engagement. 
    • I've never seen people who work in libraries more divided on issues central to our work. We ought to be doing more to address our internal and external philosophical divides.  I worry that in this new structure those with the authority to act on behalf of the membership will not hear what the membership needs them to hear right now to help them to lead us through this unprecedented opportunity to redefine what and how libraries work.


    • The proposals within CD36 and the COO report place a huge workload on a very small number of people. Given the demands of Board and Committee participation under these proposals it seems likely that only the most privileged in our profession will be able to make the commitments necessary to actively participate in the Executive Board and the Committees.  While this might achieve that goal of 'modernizing' ALA I don't see how these proposals improve opportunities for engagement.
    • The new structure seems to rely less on the volunteer labor of our members and more on paid labor of our staff. That may be the right way to go – people complain a lot about being expected to perform unpaid labor these days and it is right to question assumptions around our volunteer expectations.  But do we have to relinquish a broad (and hopefully more and more diverse) governing Council to implement these changes to committee structure and purpose?  Must governing authority be centered among the few elite members of the Association in order to effect these needed changes to streamline our structure?
    • From a chapter perspective we lose all formal opportunity to participate in governance given that not even the token 'chapter' seat on the board is required to be elected from a chapter.  At a time when chapters are being asked to do more and more to support ALA's advocacy goals, the loss of even a token opportunity to formally influence those goals is unfortunate and could be seen as sending the message that ALA is not interested in its chapters except as vehicles to meet its own objectives.  


    • We don't know the financial implications of this plan yet so it is hard to discuss. Virtual meetings should have lower costs than in person meetings so that part of governance should go down regardless.  My main concern is that it seems to me that it will be impossible for ALA to continue to produce the amount of work it does for the profession under this scaled down membership engagement proposal.  I fear that staffing costs must rise if ALA is to try to continue to meet the expectations of our members in continuing education, standards, awards, and the myriad of other activities currently supported by the volunteer labor of our members. But there is simply not enough information to understand what if any financial implications should factor into these discussions.


    Throughout the last 3 years I have been told by Councilors that I do not understand what members want.  That the Avenue M study and the work of SCOE firmly established that members want to change ALA's governance structure (conclusions I still do not see support for in the raw data shared with us).  And I was told such things in ways I thought were unnecessarily hurtful, judgmental, and rude.  The fact there are disagreements among us is deserving of respect not disdain on both sides.  I hope that I am expressing myself in way that is respectful to all.  I want ALA to succeed as I know we all do.  I hope that in our debates we will limit our comments to what we believe and not assign motives to, or make judgments about, those with whom we disagree.  I also hope we make the time necessary to truly listen to each other and hear from all who wish to speak.

    Thank you,

    Eileen M. Palmer
    NJ Chapter Councilor

    Eileen M. Palmer
    Executive Director
    LMxAC Libraries of Middlesex
    NJLA Chapter Councilor