Greetings from your ALA Councilor, Steve Butzel. Here is my report form the 2011 ALA Annual Conference which was held in New Orleans, LA this past week.
Given the numerous Council and Chapter meetings I am required to attend, I didn’t get to many programs at Annual, but I did enjoy attending the General Opening Session which was keynoted by Dan Savage. Also at the opening session, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced they had donated $300,000 to the ALA Spectrum Presidential Initiative which raises money for ALA’s national diversity and recruitment efforts. More info available here, http://spectrum.ala.org/. Of the $300,000, $100,000 will be used as matching funds.
There were four resolutions that came forward to Council in advance of Annual. All four were eventually passed. The four resolutions were:
1. Resolution to Recognize ALA Conference Services and Gale Cengage Learning for Providing Shuttle Bus Service Accommodating Attendees with Disabilities
- I voted in favor of the resolution.
2. Resolution on Out of School Time Library Programs
- This resolution called for support from national and local government bodies (as well as funding) for library programs designed to continue the learning opportunities available to youngsters beyond the school day. I voted in favor of the resolution.
3. Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self Serve Hold Practices
- This resolution generated the most discussion both in Council Forum and on the Council floor. Debate centered around the tension between theory and practice. The Intellectual Freedom Committee (which brought the resolution forward) listened to feedback and accepted a lot of input from the Public Library Association. As a result, a revised version of their original resolution passed with only a few dissenters. I voted in favor of the resolution.
4. Resolution on Revised Guidelines for the ALA Intern Program
- I voted in favor of the resolution.
There were a few resolutions that came from the ALA Membership Meeting to Council. Two resolutions dealt with WikiLeaks, and a third was a related resolution on Bradley Manning. The first resolution was rejected by a close vote, and the other two did not come to an official vote because quorum had been lost.
An important report was given to the Council by the ALA Presidential Task Force on Equitable Access to Electronic Content. The report included a series of action items including allocating $200,000 to sustain staff efforts to address issues surrounding promoting equitable access to electronic content. The need for urgent action on this issue prevailed in discussion and in the vote, and the report was referred to ALA’s Executive Council.
ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels reported to the Council that on June 1, 2011, ALA held its first Virtual Town Hall Meeting which drew as many as 530 attendees from across the country and from around the world. Questions submitted by attendees and a polling feature helped make this an interesting and successful virtual meeting. Fiels indicated that Virtual Town Hall Meetings will become a regular feature of ALA. He also warned that ALA will be dealing with the trend towards privatization of public libraries and developing initiatives to discourage this move away from public governance of libraries.
Finally, although attendance was lower than that of many other conferences in more heavily populated sites such as Chicago and Washington, it was markedly higher than the New Orleans Conference of 2006 and gave witness to the restored confidence in the City five years after the devastation of Katrina.
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