April 15, 2014

Meet the Candidates: ALA President 2015-16

Maggie Farrell left, Sari Feldman right

The campaign to elect the 2015-2016 President of the American Library Association (ALA) ends this month. To help inform ALA members who haven’t yet voted, and to give other librarians some additional insight into key issues currently on the ALA agenda, LJ asked each of the candidates to respond to five questions. The candidates, Maggie Farrell, dean of libraries at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, and Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, Ohio, responded. (Full biographies of both candidates are available on the ALA Election Guide.)

Midwinter Murmurs | Blatant Berry

John Berry III

Despite what appeared to be high registration for the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) in Philadelphia this January, we heard low rumblings of discontent. These comments were usually voiced late in the night at the parties and barroom gatherings. Much said at such gatherings never moves into the formal deliberations of ALA legislation. That is too bad. Some of it deserves attention and might even help ALA remain as strong as it is today.

Amid Winter in Philadelphia | ALA Midwinter 2014

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Snow and cold presented transportation challenges in getting to Philadelphia for the American Library Association (ALA)’s 2014 Midwinter conference, leading some exhibitors to express disappointment in the light crowds on the exhibit floor, though ALA reports attendance of 12,207, topping San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle’s numbers (However, the growth came mostly in exhibitors and exhibitor-invited complimentary attendees.) Those hardy, or lucky, librarians that did make it got some good leads and found excitement in a number of places. Besides grabbing the many galleys on offer and waiting on line for signings, the presence of Google Glass (being demonstrated under the aegis of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy) created buzz. Via Twitter, librarians reacted to the wearable computing device in ways that ran the gamut from enthusiasm to criticism of the functionality to concern about patron privacy.

ALA and the Reunification of Librarianship

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The American Library Association (ALA)’s burgeoning budget crisis and dip in membership shows the group is having a tough time thriving as a multi-type library organization. It might be easy to cast a net of blame across the tepid economy, the aging profession, even entrenched leadership in ALA itself. But we think ALA’s membership woes are caused by a lack of unity across librarianship, a problem that is reinforced by ALA’s organizational structure and too narrow publications. In the tradition of thinking such as Andy Woodworth’s ‘big tent’ librarianship, we believe the leadership of the ALA should be at the forefront of unifying librarianship, working to link our academic, public, and school libraries and librarians. Instead, we shudder as we see ALA working to reinforce silos that separate public, academic, and school libraries from one another, rather than bridges to connect them.

Court Strikes Down FCC’s Net Neutrality Mandate

In a ruling that could have serious implications for the way Internet access is regulated in the United States, the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this morning that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not have the authority to impose so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules on Internet service providers (ISPs).

Why ALA Needs a Code of Conduct | Backtalk

Yelton-BIG

The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced a statement of appropriate conduct for ALA conferences. This statement is a mechanism for addressing disputes, but it is also a declaration of values: it signals to everyone who we are. Furthermore, it’s part of an ongoing dialog about inclusion in library-related conference communities.

Big Spenders Meet Vendors & Job Seekers

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According to the American Library Association (ALA), 50 percent of those attending the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia will be top managers in libraries; 92 percent will have “buying influence” for products or services exhibited; and 62 percent will find new companies with which to do business during their time in the exhibits. The pitch emphasizes that the Midwinter Meeting has been redesigned to include programs and special events to “become the place where librarians from across the country discuss and explore the future of libraries and librarianship.” More than 8,000 librarians are expected in the City of Brotherly Love, and according to ALA’s message to exhibitors, “These are the decision makers you need to meet!”

Power of the Pen: Admiring Stripling’s Declaration | Editorial

Rebecca Miller

When Barbara Stripling took the helm at the American Library Association (ALA) this summer, she arrived with a plan to make a mark. She anchored her “Libraries Change Lives” initiative with a quiet but forceful tool, the Declaration for the Right to Libraries.

Money Talks! | Blatant Berry

John N. Berry III

That titular truism is even more accurate during hard times; the muzzling and corrupting impact of the almighty dollar on the flow of information is magnified in a weak economy. Those with an agenda use their money to influence our politics, our ideology, and our lifestyles and social interactions. We see this sway not only in election campaigns but in the media as they provide our entertainment and report our news. Even the once sacrosanct public media are afflicted with influences that tend to quiet their critique and discussion if it might affect their donors, funding agencies, trustees, and ­advertisers.

ALA Recovers $175,000 in Misappropriated Funds

Early at the Annual conference of the American Library Association (ALA) copies of a page from Illinois Lawyer Now, a publication of the Illinois State Bar Association, were quietly distributed to members of the press. The page reported the disbarment and suspension of 11 Illinois attorneys. Included was the disbarment of Mary Frances Wilkens, a lawyer since 2006, who was charged with misappropriating $174,300.53 from ALA for her own personal use between 2006 and 2012. Wilkens was employed in the offices of ALA Booklist, the Association’s book review publication.