Hello NHLA Members,
I am happy to be reporting to you from my first ALA Council Session.
My work here began on Friday at a thorough New Council Member Orientation. For those of you who don’t know much about the work of the ALA Council, in brief, it is the policy-making body of ALA. There are 187 members, one from each state plus at large members. I think many of us from NH would feel right at home in Council meetings as they operate very much like our annual town meetings. Anyone can speak and we all have an equal vote. The Executive Board is made up of Council members and the board is elected by the Council.
Believe it or not the most entertaining part of the orientation was a speech by the official parliamentarian, Eli Mina, a delightful man who clearly loves the rules of order and made me want to love them too. Anyone who has sat through past CHILIS meetings presided over by me, knows the rules of order and I have only a passing acquaintance. That is about to change!
Sunday morning began with Council I. The majority of the meeting was a breakout into small groups re-imagining the future of the ALA organization. What do we all want to see for the future of the organization? It was a productive collective brainstorming session. Emerging themes included engaging new members, making the organization less complex, focusing on literacy, making sure all types of libraries are heard, and defending the freedom to read.
Two things stood out for me in the discussion. One was a suggestion to get members to focus not on what they “get out” of ALA, but also on what they can give to ALA. I also appreciated the sentiments of one group who asked us to not lose sight of the fact that the information profession is not just fundamentally linked to education, but to democracy. Very little actual policy decisions from this morning’s meeting, but very interesting to be a part of this discussion. I wonder, as members of ALA (or even as nonmembers), what do YOU want to see as the future of the organization. I am quite sure this morning was the beginning of an ongoing conversation among not just Council, but the entire membership.
I also attended a forum for the ALA candidates for president and treasurer on Friday evening. It was great to put faces to the names we often see in ALA communications.
It is interesting to learn about how ALA operates which is something we don’t all get to know. I’m truly thrilled to be serving as the ALA Councilor from NH. I appreciate this opportunity. I will be sending updates after Council II on Monday and Council III on Tuesday. I’ll try to keep them briefer than this first report, but I did want to give you an introduction to what goes on here at ALA Midwinter.
NH ALA Councilor, 2013-2015