March 17, 2018

Open Lists, Shorter Meetings Discussed at ALA Midwinter

By Norman Horrocks & Norman Oder

  • Council likes idea of open lists, but wary of implementation
  • Shorter meetings might attract more candidates
  • Both will be studied

Several issues discussed at the recent American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting involved ways to make ALA more accessible. Hoping to enable ALA members to become more aware of association business, Councilor Melora Ranney Norman proposed that Council authorize readonly access for virtually all ALA electronic mailing lists, except for closed lists that concern awards or those that affect the privacy of individuals or institutions.

While several councilors said they approved the idea in concept, they had qualms about its implementation. Councilor Bernard Margolis pointed out, for example, that Pat Schroeder, president and CEO of the American Association of Publishers, is a member of ALA. This matter was referred to the existing Task Force on Electronic Member Participation, which will report back at the annual conference in June. Those sessions will be blogged and podcasted.

Shorter meetings

Do ALA meetings take too long? The Council Orientation Committee chaired by Councilor Joe Eagan, had been asked to look at how to increase interest in running for Council and removing obstacles that prevent ALA members from standing as candidates. This year’s Nominating Committee, which sought at least 53 candidates, obtained 63 acceptances but also faced challenges, requiring a three-week extension of the deadline for application. The main reason potential candidates declined was that attendance at both the Midwinter Meeting and annual conference requires extra travel time and expense and is often not institutionally supported.

Eagan’s committee suggested shortening the length of meetings by ending Council gatherings on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday. Any such change might have a significant impact on ALA’s advance bookings for future meeting space and hotel accommodation, so the matter was referred to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC). Barbara Stripling of the Intellectual Freedom Committee observed that many committees meet on Tuesday to prepare reports and action items for Council consideration on Wednesday morning; however, the IFC and International Relations Committee later reported that they had failed to meet their quorum requirement and were unable to take action.

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