#alaac16 #alacouncil III: Guns and Equity

Here are what I consider highlights of Council III. I won’t be providing links to individual resolutions in this post because the ones we considered were embedded in the reports of the Committee on Legislation (COL) and the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC).

Reports Made

One element of the IFC report I found disappointing was finding out that their new $50/year journal, Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy, the successor to the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, is NOT open access – not even with an embargo period. This is the wrong direction for ALA to be going in. I’ve been saying this to anyone who’d listen for the past three years. Maybe I should have sponsored a resolution on open access for ALA itself, but since we’re so good at preaching open access to others I thought we’d get around to practicing it ourselves. My bad. More information about this journal can be found at http://journals.ala.org/JIFP.

Resolution/Actions Activity

  • CD 20.5 – Support for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) champions (See COL Report) – Passed unanimously
  • CD 20.6 Equity in ESSA DOE rule making (See COL Report) – Passed unanimously
  • CD 20.7 Equity for All [School Libraries] (See COL Report) – Passed unanimously
  • CD # 19.9, Religion in American Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (See IFC Report) – Well balanced statement that passed unanimously.

 

Guns – The hidden resolution

Between the COL and IFC reports, the two chairs made a purely oral report on the gun violence resolution (2016 CD 45) that had been referred to a joint working group at Council I. They had seemed to be making progress towards their goal of having something for us to vote on in Council III. But at Council III they said their working group concluded they needed more time and ask to postpone consideration until Midwinter 2017.

A heated discussion ensued, which crossed the usual lines of “Librarians are for social justice” vs “ALA should stick to strictly library issues.” While we on Council are normally good about speaking to the issues and not to people, both sides failed somewhat in this area with advocates of postponement being labelled cowards and advocates of immediate action being accused of wanting to make themselves feel better while getting US libraries destroyed by the NRA.

There was also much unhappiness expressed by the level of discussion this resolution received informal Council Forums as opposed to formal debate on the council floor. There were cries that 2/3 of Council had been left out of this discussion and had no chance to debate the original resolution. I’m completely unsympathetic to this point of view for two reasons:

  1. Council Forums are open to all, including non-members and publicly scheduled. We even accept non-member participation in the discussions, which never result in formal actions. Yes, they’re late at night (8:30-10), but they are open in a way that no other legislative meetings ever are. Just TRY to get into an Alaskan legislative caucus meeting. Just try. And they take binding actions.
  2. If a Councilor couldn’t be troubled to come to the open, publicly announced Council Forums, then the thing to do was to ask the Chair to post the resolves of the original resolution on the screen on the grounds that we couldn’t make an intelligent decision about referral without knowing what we were referring. NO ONE made this move. It’s what I would have done if I had desired to keep the resolution on the floor.

While 2 wouldn’t have allowed immediate consideration of the original of CD 45, it could have galvanized Councilors into voting against referral, at which point we’d be back to considering the original resolution, at which point we could have amended it on the floor. I’d rather people try and take action than just complain about process. It’s one of the reasons I’m happy to be off Council even though I really appreciate a lot of Councilors as individuals.

As it stood, there was a lot of discussion of whether to postpone additional action till Midwinter and comments about Council process, after which we had a rare close vote of 85 Yes / 50 No to give the task force, which included the original mover of CD 45, the time they wanted.

As I indicted in my Council II post, I was happy with a referral, but I would have been fine with voting on a resolution then because it would have taken a hard choice off the back of my successor.

ALA Council III at Annual Conference 2016 in Orlando Florida was my last as Alaska’s Chapter Councilor. For the next three years, the Alaska Library Association will be represented by Steven Hunt of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. I hope Alaskans and Council members will give him a warm welcome when he starts the meeting cycle at MidWinter 2017 in Atlanta Georgia.

I hope to have at least one more post reflecting on the ups and downs of serving on ALA Council. Despite some of my remarks here, I do recommend the experience if you can afford it or can get support to participate.

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2 Responses to #alaac16 #alacouncil III: Guns and Equity

  1. Dale McNeill says:

    I just wanted to say that I have enjoyed serving with you for the year that we overlapped. And I read your Council reports even before I was on Council!

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