The second Council session of the 2016 Annual American Library Association ended with a surprise involving President Elect Julie Todaro, but more about that below. Immediately below are what I thought were the highlights of our session (excluding having photographs taken, which was fun cat-herding). If you want to see every topic we worked on, see the official agenda.
At Council II, we received the following reports:
Policy Monitoring Committee (PMC), Vicky Crone, Chair, ALA CD#17.1
The PMC had a single action item:
PMC MOVES INSERTION of the new interpretation at B.2.1.25:
User-Generated Content in Library Discovery Systems
Libraries offer a variety of discovery systems to provide access to the resources in their collections. When discovery systems incorporate social media components, intelligent objects and knowledge-sharing tools, they create opportunities for users to contribute to discussions about library resources within the discovery system. Libraries that open their discovery systems to user-generated content should develop and publish viewpoint-neutral policies that describe how users may contribute, how user-generated content will be displayed, and how the personal information of contributors will be protected. Adopted, January 2016.
(See “Policy Reference File”: User-Generated Content in Library Discovery Systems: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, 2015-2016 ALA CD#19.2 – PDF, 2pgs)
This was passed unanimously with no discussion. I voted yes because it was a routine housekeeping matter.
Committee on Organization (COO), Sue Considine, Chair, ALA CD#27.1
COO had two action items:
- Define Subdivision as an ALA Division or Roundtable – No discussion and passed unanimously.
- Restructure the Chapter Relations Committee as follows – “Eleven (11) Members, which includes the Chair. To be eligible to be a member of the Chapter Relations Committee (CRC), an individual must be an ALA member who is also a member of an ALA Chapter or Divisional Affiliate. In addition, eight (8) of the eleven (11) members should have state library association (Chapter) leadership or committee experience. ” – Surprising amount of discussion on this one, but in the end passed overwhelmingly.
I voted yes on both. #1 seemed routine and #2 helps the Chapter Relations Committee have more Chapter based experience.
Constitution and Bylaws Committee, James (Jim) R. Rettig, Chair, ALA CD#25.1
This committee had two action items for us:
- Bylaws change – Amend Article III, Section 1.e of the ALA Bylaws to state:
No person may be nominated for or serve on the Council unless that person is a personal member of the American Library Association. No candidate may run for more than one Council position in the same election.
- Constitution change – Amend Article X of the ALA Constitution. This amendment is lengthy and deals with affiliations. See report for text.
In order to keep the ALA Bylaws and Constitution from changing too easily, Council must pass the EXACT Text of change resolutions TWICE in consecutive meetings before a change can be placed on the ballot. So if someone tries to change the text of one or the other of these proposals, they will NOT make the Spring 2017 ballot.
Both action items appeared to pass unanimously. I voted for both because they seemed like common sense changes.
International Relations Committee (IRC), Leslie B. Burger, Chair, ALA CD#18.1-ALA CD#18.2
The IRC brought one action item near and dear to my heart – affordable access to government information. In this case, United Nations information. See the report for the full resolution. It asks the UN to reconsider a fee structure that includes $12,500/year fees for UN documents and to reinstate print publications for nations that have a hard time accessing affordable broadband. This item appeared to pass unanimously and I voted for it because I believe that government information should be free.
Taking off my librarian hat for just a moment, I do wonder if the UN would have been tempted to charge such high fees for depository materials if the US were current in its dues.
Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., President, ALA CD#22.1
For me personally, the biggest news was that Julius Jefferson was stepping down as head of FTRF. While the leadership of FTRF appears to be in good hands, Councilor Jefferson had a panache and passion I’ll miss. Or would miss if I were continuing on Council. Julius – if you’re reading this, best wishes in where life takes you next!
I was puzzled by the “developing issues” part of the report, but it didn’t seem worth to disrupt the good feelings of the in-person report to raise it:
Members of the Foundation’s Developing Issues committee reported on two important developing issues that raise significant Constitutional issues for libraries. Committee chair Em Claire Knowles first discussed the committee’s concerns about discriminatory transgender bathroom laws and legislation and the need to support efforts to oppose or overturn such laws to assure equal, fair, and equitable treatment for library staff and library users. She then discussed the committee’s concerns about the fear and chilling effect posed by the threat of gun violence in libraries and the wider society as well as the current ban on the use of federal funds for research on gun violence that is contrary to the provision of relevant information to the public. FTRF will continue to track and follow these issues.
While I accept both transgender treatment and gun violence as topics that need addressing in libraries, I thought FTRF was about, well, reading (and viewing/listening). Bathroom policy and gun violence policies sound more like the territory of more administrative/facility type groups.
Conference Accessibility Task Force, Mike Marlin and Christopher J. Corrigan co-chairs, ALA CD#37
This was an interim report on efforts to make ALA Conferences more accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities. The task force was appointed in March and is in early information gathering mode. The results of this information gathering will likely be available at Midwinter.
According to the agenda for Council II, we intended to deal with the following resolutions:
- Resolution Concerning the Role of Chapters in the American Library Association, ALA CD#40_Revised 62416_ACT
- Resolution on Equity for All School Libraries, ALA CD#47_62616¬_ACT
- Resolution on Equity for School Libraries for the DOE Making Rules For ESSA, CD#48_62616¬_ACT
Resolution Concerning the Role of Chapters in the American Library Association
I was expecting this resolution to provoke a lot of debate. It had been discussed and widely condemned on the discussion list. It was the subject of a lot of feedback at Forum I. The resolution was rewritten at Chapter Councilor Forum and brought to Forum II for more feedback. To me, the sense at Forum II was that this resolution was better and the Chapter Councilors were united behind it, but other Councilors questioned why we needed this resolution in light of President Elect Julie Todaro and Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels meeting with the movers and other remediation moves by Big ALA. The mover insisted that we needed the resolution in the record and hopefully passed to memorialize the communications problems that led to it.
I thought both sides walked out of Forum holding on to their positions, but with less hard feeling than before. So I was prepared for a civil but lengthy discussion of the resolution and a possible close vote.
But what happened instead was that when the mover was asked to speak to their resolution, she yielded to President Elect Todaro. To the best of my memory, such a situation hasn’t happened during my three years on Council, and it appeared to surprise many of my fellow Councilors.
Julie Todaro asked that the resolution be referred to a task force that she would appoint as President. The mover seconded this motion. President Feldman called for discussion, but none was forthcoming. I was stunned and perhaps others were too. But that was our issue and not Sari Feldman’s.
Hearing no discussion, a vote was called for. I voted yes because it was what the mover wanted. Nearly everyone voted yes except for a handful of chapter councilors. Two that I spoke to said they voted no because all of this had a “black box” like feel after all the work put into it at Chapter Councilor Forum. A report on this resolution and recommendations for Chapter-Big ALA relations is expected at Midwinter 2017 in Atlanta.
Resolution on Equity for All School Libraries AND Resolution on Equity for School Libraries for the DOE Making Rules For ESSA
The mover of both of these resolutions reported that the Committee on Legislation had agreed to put both resolutions into their report, which would come back at Council III.
With all work tackled, we moved on to taking photographs for the 140th Anniversary of ALA’s founding. I have no idea what makes 140 special, but it was a fun process. After the entire council was photographed, this year’s cohort of retiring Councilors – including me – had a group picture taken as well.