Friday, March 31, 2006

Immigration Laws and the polarization of politics

I had the occasion this week to do some driving. One of those trips included time when the immigration issue was being reported on, and I got to thinking....

On Immigration I have noticed some unusual partnerships. Some Democrats are supporting the President, while there are some Republicans who are more aligned with some of the vocal democratic leaders.

It got me to thinking, is some of the polarization of partisan politics being driven by the media. The media, especially the radio/TV media, are looking for two things: sound bites and controversy. That is a combination which results in short answers and lack of clear thinking about the issues because the conversation/debate is being carried out in the media. How does this help us? You can probably guess how I answer that!

The other two thoughts which occurred to me are that the further one lives from the Mexican border, the less sympathetic a politician is likely to be to illegal immigrants. I lived in Tucson for seven and a half years. I have visited border towns, and driven along the border between Arizona and Mexico. There is a lot of wide open space out there, I don't believe that many politicians understand that.

The second thought comes back to me when I hear jingoist Republican legislative leaders talk about building a wall along the border. I hear in my head the voice of Republican President Ronald Reagan saying: "Chairman Gorbachev, take that wall down!" Now, the Berlin Wall was built to keep people in, and some of Congress want a wall to keep people out. However, in spite of its size and the number of guards, many tried, and some succeeded in getting past the wall. Won't the same be true here?

My ancestors came from another country. Some were perhaps illegal immigrants. It is the hard work of immigrants which has made this country great. I still don't understand why we restrict immigration.

Here is the "library connection." Part of my philosophy about the wall is the same as my philosophy about theft detection systems. No matter what you do, someone will figure a way around it. All you are doing is making it harder.

[Updated to correct typo in the title of the post.]

Friday, March 24, 2006

Dad Cred

What kind of credibility points do you get when your (teenaged for another few hours) daughter clips from your blog? Whatever it is, I get it. [No, I'm not linking to her page. Give me some credit!]

ALA Voting - My final offer

In a previous post I listed the names of those for whom I am voting, and I want to take a moment to explain why each has been chosen. So here goes:
  • "Next Gen" Librarians are Ria Newhouse and Heidi Dolamore. Ria presented to the ALA Exec Board back in Orlando about some of the ways that the next generation of librarians act differently than some of us baby boomers. She and April Spivak sure got my attention on this topic. Heidi is one of those librarians, and is a blogger!
  • Also a blogger, and a wonderful guru to get me started blogging is Rochelle Hartman.
  • David Barton is an academic librarian, and has figured out how to hire and keep Next Gen librarians.
  • The other Connecticut librarians running are Arlene Bielefield (Department Chair for the Library School at Southern Connecticut State University) and high school librarian Luann Cogliser.
  • My special category includes a support staffer, Dorothy Morgan and a Trustee Donald Roalkvalm. Don has the distinct advantage of having served as the ALTA Division Councilor, so he actually knows what he is getting into.
  • Then there is a list of folks I have met through Council who are all special folks with whom I want to continue to work: Beth Bingham (from Louisiana, and first chair/moving force behind the Scholarship Bash), Pat Hogan (from Illinois, and a PUBLIB regular), Bill Paullin (former New Jersey Chapter Councilor, and all around good guy), Carol Kem (lots of financial acumen -- which Council needs), Ginny Moore (from the DC area, long time Council member who doesn't speak much, but when she does, sit up and pay attention), Peg Ottinger (retired school librarian from the other end of the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry), Jo Ann Pinder (past PLA pres, was on Core Values 2 with me) Larry Romans (GODORT Councilor at one time, also been a Tennessee Chapter Councilor, current chair of the Committee on Legislation, was on the Membership Meetings Task Force [I think, or did he do the Meeting Quorum while I did the Meetings] generally good guy, Gail Schlacter (past president of RUSA and co-convenor of the Council Forum), Pat Wand (brilliant academic librarian formerly at American University, now working overseas).
  • New comers to Council include Dora Ho (who was very active in NMRT and is now on COO -- or at least the Task Force being created) and conservative libarian Greg McClay. Greg would bring an important balance to Council. He is also a blogger.
  • The last list left off Aaron Dobbs. I apologize to Aaron who sat through most of Council. Aaron has been a "virtual member" of the Membership Committee, and the intern for the OITP Advisory Committee. He has done good work, and shows interest. That's why I'm supporting him.

I'm locking in my votes and voting today. As of earlier in the week, voting was running at about twice the same period last year. That is good news. The electronic ballot is easier to use, and I am guessing that the ballot question on dues has increased the interest in voting.

Please support the dues increase, so that ALA can implement the new strategic plan.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Three Unrelated Items: Car milestone; Bunnies at the Library; Stitches/Good News

Way back when I was the President of the Connecticut Library Association (1999/2000), I wrote a column for the newsletter. One of the items I frequently included was a discussion of my car. It was usually the last thing in the column, and I could sure tell that folks read to the end! I received more comments about those notes than about any other issue. I guess it goes to show that people really do care about the things they can identify with.

Well, my PT Cruiser shows up in several photos here lately. Last night, I turned 50,000 miles. We got the car in January 2003 (right after ALA Midwinter, turned in the old car before I went to Philly). This has been the longest I have taken to reach this milestone (pun intended) since I have owned a car. It is only a little more than 3 miles to work (one way), and while I drive to various meetings, and outside of work, it is not like my days at SCLC when it was 20 miles (each way) to the office and then I'd often put another 50 miles during the day.

Last night I was leaving the office at about 6:30. As I drove out the driveway, I glanced at the building to my left, and under the maple tree there, I thought I saw a rabbit. I stopped, backed up, and sure enough, there was a rabbit under the tree. Why is this so strange? Well, Downtown Bridgeport is not particularly hospitable to wildlife. We have a border of grass and bushes with a few trees which is about 10 feet wide around three sides of the building. A great deal of the rest of downtown is paved over. This is a city.

I'm back from the oral surgeon. I've had a bump inside my lower lip for about 18 months. My dentist thought, at first, that it was just a blocked salivary gland. When I saw him in January, he suggested getting it taken off. That happened last week, and they sent the bit off for a biopsy. Today was the day for the stitches to come out. (Hooray!) The lab report came back negative. (Double hooray!) I don't take chances with this stuff, my father died at age 48 from melanoma.

Monday, March 20, 2006

ALA Elections

I received the post card, and shortly thereafter the email.

Voting seemed even easier to me this year. The links back and forth to the bios worked well, and you could even vote from the bio.

I have actually completed the voting for several sections and divisions. It was very clear when I reached the point of no return, and I even received an email confirmation that my ballot had been received.

On the ALA Council List, Mary Ghikas has reported twice. On March 16 at 3:17 pm, 1,926 had voted. As of 3:04 pm on Friday (3/17, St. Patrick's Day) 2,904 had voted. Mary noted that the first report last year was not until 3/22/05 and at that point 2,764 had voted. So turn-out is good.

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day 2006

One of my staff came out as we were getting ready for the City's Annual St. patrick's Day Parade. The Library participates with its Book Cart Drill Team. It is lots of fun, especially since the parade passes directly in front of the Library.

Here I am, all decked out in the souvenir Irish hat, beads, and green jacket. Beads courtesy New Orleans and Midwinter 2006

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Origin of the term "Sun Belt"

The New York Times Book Review for Sunday March 19 has its cover story on Kevin Phillips' new book American Theocracy. First, let me admit that I read this only in paper. It took me about five tries before I saw that the initial capital letter for the story was the illustration of the US Capitol/Washington Monument/Oil Refinery with floating money was really the initial capital.

Once I figured that out, I started feeling old. The review notes that Phillips' first book The Emerging Republican Majority was published in 1969. I remember reading that, and other of Phillips' work in a course I took on "Elections" (as an undergrad at Brown) during the fall of 1972. The midterm had a bonus question: predict the electoral vote from the outcome of the November 1972 election. I missed getting the bonus because I did not think that George McGovern would carry his home state. I did correctly give him Massachusetts (and no others). In electoral vote terms, it was a huge landslide.

With the hindsight of four decades, The Emerging Republican Majority was surprisingly accurate. While I don't generally read non-fiction for fun, I'm sorely tempted by this one.

The Phillips book also reminded me of a board game that I played the previous spring and even that fall where each player was one of the presidential hopefuls. I remember Senator Birch Bayh (Indiana) was one. Representative Morris Udall (Arizona) was another. I guess I could go look for the others, but I am afraid that it will just make me feel older.

Post #73

Who could believe it! Unless I have counted wrong, I am up to post #73. I missed celebrating #50, and promise not to celebrate more until I get to #100. [I'll also admit to managing some of the posting so that the ALA 101 posts would be fairly close together.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

ALA Voting

If you are reading this, then you :
  1. Stumbled onto my blog, and probably have no clue what I am talking about,
  2. Look here every now and again,
  3. Subscribe to this via RSS or some aggregator,
  4. or are stalking me .
Ballots for the ALA election are due to be distributed electronically over 48 hours between March 15 and 17. They will include the general ALA ballot as well as any division or round table ballots. The general ALA ballot has:
  • President-elect (2 candidates)
  • ALA Council (lots of candidates for 33 seats, unless there are vacancies to be filled)
  • Bylaws changes including the dues increase.
I ask that you please support ALL the bylaws changes. Some are housekeeping, but they all make sense.

Vote for whomever you please for ALA President. I know Loriene Roy slightly, and have never met John Crowe. I think that either would do a good job.

I ask that you vote for ME for ALA Council. Some of the other folks I am supporting include: Ria Newhouse, Beth Bingham, Heidi Dolamore, Pat Hogan, Bill Paullin, David Barton, Arlene Bielefield, Luann Cogliser, Rochelle Hartman, Dora Ho, Carol Kem, Greg McClay, Ginny Moore, Peg Ottinger, Joanne Pinder, Donald Roalkvalm, Larry Romans, Gail Schlacter, Pat Wand, Dorothy Morgan. The complete list of candidates (alphabetically, of course) is on the ALA web site.

ALA 101 - Part 7: Governance (this means ALA Council)

ALA Council -- Folks seem to either love it or hate it. Here's where I try to answer what it is, what it does, who is on it, and how it relates to the Executive Board.

What is it?

ALA Council (henceforth, just Council) is the large, representative governing body for the American Library Association.

What does it do?

Council in addition to several specific duties set out in the Constitution and Bylaws of the Association, Council sets broad Association-wide policies for ALA.

Who is on it?

There are currently about 182 members of Council. Council members include the officers elected by the Association: President, President-Elect, Past President, and Treasurer. There are representatives from the 54 Chapters (or specific geographic association, however, each area can only elect one "Chapter Councilor" so there are six from New England, one from each state, and no Councilor from the New England Library Association). There are Councilors from the eleven divisions. There are six Councilors from the Round Tables (see my earlier discussion on Round Tables). There are eight members of the Executive Board. There are 100 elected "at large." All Councilors serve three year terms so two out of three years, 33 "at large" Councilors are elected, and the third year 34 are chosen. This assumes that there are no vacancies to fill.

I have a subsequent post in which I ask for your vote, tell you who else running for Council I support, and provide a link to the full list of candidates.

So what's this Executive Board?

The Executive Board (EB) handles the implementation of the decisions of Council and in between the semi-annual, face-to-face meetings of the Association, the Executive Board handles any issues which arise. The Executive Board is elected from the members of Council. To run for the EB a Councilor must have completed at least one full year. EB elections are held at Midwinter, and two years out of three, Council elects three to serve, with two elected the other year. Most of the time (that is, other than when a vacancy occurs), terms on the EB begin at the end of the last Council meeting (Council III) at the Annual Conference. This past January, Terri Kirk, Mario Gonzales, and Roberta Stevens were elected to the EB. Terri Kirk had been filling a vacancy created when Michael Gorman was elected President, so will now have a full three year term. Mario and Roberta were elected to replace Jim Rettig and me.

In addition to meeting at Midwinter and Annual, the Executive Board meets in the fall and the spring for a long weekend. The fall meeting is about the same time as the Division Boards meet. BARC often meets just before the EB, and F&A meets in conjunction with the EB. [BARC and F&A are part of ALA's financial oversight.] The EB also has monthly conference calls, and there is a closed electronic discussion list. The latter two are so that we can most effectively handle the affairs of the Association.

More about Council

Because Council is such a large body, there is a wide range of opinions represented. There are some folks who are more vocal than others, and on the electronic discussion list, it seems that there only a small group which expresses any opinions at all. It would be unwise to make any judgment about Council based on the discussion list. [That list can be read by anyone who is a member. If I can find it, I'll add a link to it in a day or two.]

Because of its size, even the room in which Council meets seems intimidating. In order to be heard, speakers must use a microphone. That alone intimidates many. To allow those with hearing impairment (and to provide a transcript for the preparation of minutes) there is a transcriptionist whose work is projected onto a pair of large screens. This, too, is intimidating. However, many of us have gotten past that, and speak regularly. Interestingly, while it is a large body, there are not organized "factions" or "parties" within Council. From a process stand point it is always interesting to watch.

This is one where I don't know what questions are out there....send me some.

I have been on Council for 10 years now. When I was first elected, terms were for four years. I served one four year term as the Connecticut Chapter Councilor, and then was re-elected to a three year term. When that term was coming to an end, I was elected as a member of the Executive Board. That term ends in June, and I am standing for election as a Councilor-at-Large.

Random Thoughts

  • The difference between Bridgeport and Weston: In Bridgeport you'll find an empty beer bottle tossed along the road. In Weston, it is an empty bottle of Veuve Clicquot.[2/28/2006]
  • Why can't people just play nice and get along -- response to the violent demonstrations in India and Pakistan against Bush and the bombing in Nazareth [3/3/2006]
  • So what's with these jeans where they are discolored over the thighs or worse yet the seat. They look awful, and I seem to be seeing more of them. Ugh! [3/9/2006]

ALA 101 - Part 6: Buildings and Finances

ALA's Headquarters (HQ after this), is officially located at 50 East Huron Street in Chicago. Actually, ALA owns not only 50 E. Huron, but also 40, and part of 30! The ALA offices stretch from the corner of Wabash and Huron, most of the way to Rush on the north side of the street. Across the street from HQ is the cathedral and offices for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The Cathedral for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is only a few blocks away.

Historically, ALA has owned 50 East Huron for a number of years. Back in the 50s or 60s, ALA purchased the parking lot at 30 East, and the building at 40 East. In the 70s ALA Executive Director Robert Wedgeworth was approached and worked out a deal to create a condominium at 30 East, and re-configure the offices. At 30 East, ALA has part of the first floor, and all of the 2nd through 7th floors. Currently the 7th floor is vacant, but there have been tenants in the past. Above that are apartments. About three years the original agreement on the development of the property expired resulting in a cash windfall for the Association. Those funds have been added to the Association's Long Term Investment Fund.

Michael Stephens posted photos from his recent visit to ALA HQ, and I'll link to that and then make comments about some of the specific photos. After wandering around FLickr for a bit, I found that Jenny Levine has five photos of that day also, start with that link, and look at the next four.

I am guessing that the photo of stuff on the window sill is in Mary Ghikas' office. You can see Michael's photo of Jenny photographic the ALA Mission Statement, and then Jenny's photo in her group of that statement. It is on a wall just inside the door to the "Governance" area on the 2nd floor. That is where Keith Michael Fiels office is.

The training room pictured is on the first floor of 50 East, right next to the Membership Services area (where the phones are answered). The room with the big table (and speaker phone in the middle) is the Carnegie Room. This is right above the Training Room, and is where the Executive Board meets when we are in Chicago (Spring and Fall...Next meeting April 7 - 9 (but some of us have meetings before that).

Michael's other photos are of the signs which hang and designate offices within the ALA building. The library shots are of the ALA Library (run by the wonderful Karen Mueller).

Other buildings

ALA recently purchased an office condominium in Washington DC to house the Washington Office (WO). The WO had previously been located (most recently) in rented space on Pennsylvania Ave. While convenient to Capitol Hill and many other federal offices, costs continued to rise, and with the shortage of Class A office space in DC, the lease costs continued to rise faster than ALA's other budgets. The opportunity caused by the refinancing of the Chicago property, meant that last year was a good time for the Association to purchase property rather than rent. That purchase was financed by tax exempt bonds issued by the District of Columbia in a complex financing package which will result in budget savings to the Association as well as the increase in value of the asset. The offices are in a building which used to be an embassy, and ALA is the majority owner of the business condominium and therefore has a great deal of control over its space.

ALA also has an office in Middletown CT. The editorial offices of Choice, the book review publication of ACRL, started in the University Library on the Wesleyan University campus. They are now in a rented office, and ALA is exploring the possibility of purchasing a building to house those offices.

As you can imagine ALA's Finances are complex. However, remember that Divisions and Round Tables each can set and charge their own dues. Most of my comments are about the finances of "big ALA." Let me also add, that BARC and the Treasurer sponsor an event at each Midwinter Meeting called ALA Finances 101. That is an opportunity to hear an in depth discussion of ALA finances.

ALA has a number of revenue streams. Dues account for about 17% of this year's budget. Publications and Conferences are both larger sources of revenue. In the case of both Publications and Conferences, ALA generally talks about the net income from those areas, meaning that all the expenses have been removed. Those expenses include items for which ALA is billed (the actual printing and distribution in the case of Publishing, and the cost of meeting rooms and convention center space in the case of Conferences) as well as the cost of staff in the offices. The fourth and final major source of income is Grants. Grants include partnerships with Major League Baseball and specific grants for programs such as those from the Public Programs Office. All of this income pays for the staff in the offices (see Part 4) . It also pays for projects like the Campaign for America's Libraries which are aimed at the general public.

The one other factor which I won't go into, but is important to know about, is that the financial relationship between "big ALA" and the Divisions, is spelled out in detail in something known as the Operating Agreement. This agreement is included in ALA's Policy Manual (which is included in the ALA Handbook of Organization. It is complex enough that I am not sure that I understand all of the nuances included.

Oversight for ALA's finances and budgeting has several levels. The Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) is one of the Council Committees which reviews proposals before any new projects are undertaken. The Executive Board has a Finance and Audit Committee (F&A, technically a subcommittee of the Board), on which I am serving this year. At Executive Board meetings both BARC and F&A report. The Treasurer who serves on both of those also reports to the Board (and Council).

The Long Term Investment Fund (also known as the endowment) is managed by an independent group of Trustees (three in number, each serving a three year term). They report to F&A, the Board, and to Council on the performance of the invested funds. Many of these funds are restricted as to use, and fund Awards and Scholarships.

The finances are complex, and this is just one view of them. I welcome either comments or questions either through this blog or emailed.

Blogging Humor

From Unshelved (for Saturday, March 11, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 5: Committees

Committees is one of my favorite ALA topics. Why? Well ALA truly is a complex organization. I illustrate that by talking about my three favorite Committees: the Committee on Organization (COO), the Committee on Appointments, and the Committee on committees.

I have served for the last two and a half years as the Executive Board liaison to COO. This committee writes the actually charges of all Association-wide committees and reviews and recommends the make up of the committee. It is very detail oriented work, is perceived by many librarians as not very attractive, but is a very powerful governance committee.

The other two I cite above actually have very similar tasks, just for different committees. Committees of the Association are designated as either Council Committees or Association Committees. Members of Council Committees are appointed by the Committee on Committees, and appointments to Association Committees are made by the Committee on Appointments. Both committees are chaired by the President-Elect.

The Committee on Committees is made up of the President-Elect and four Councilors. At each Annual Conference, four Councilors are elected. I have served on this committee, which is an interesting experience. The Council Committees are:

Some of these committees are very highly sought after (International Relations, Intellectual Freedom) while others often have fewer volunteers than open slots. In the year I served, we had to search for folks willing to serve on COO, Policy Monitoring, and some others.

The Committee on Appointments is also Chaired by the President-Elect, but consists of the Presidents-Elect of each of the Divisions. This is one of the ways that the Association assures that there is divisional representation on association-wide committees. The Association Committees are:

Now, you'll notice that the Scholarships and Study Grants Committee does not have a link. That is because that committee was only just established within the past year. (I forget whether it was at Annual 2005 or Midwinter 2006.) It was created to clarify the responsibility for scholarships and separate the "Awards" from the "Scholarships."

Other tidbits about these Committees which I know from my experience:

  • You can only serve on the Nominating committee once, ever, in your ALA career. That can be good or bad. Getting folks to agree to run for ALA office can be a challenge.
  • The Membership Committee is where dues increase proposals originate. That committee also sets the member benefits which are not spelled out in the by-laws. Some see this as a not terribly important committee, but it can be powerful. Membership also runs the committee intern program. I have served on this committee including a term as chair.
  • The Election Committee oversees the ALA election, and members are required to pay their own way to Chicago to do that. Therefore, this committee often has ALA members from the greater Chicago area.
  • Note that many of the committees on this list are advisory to the Offices in the association mentioned in Part 4.
  • Chapter Relations is a great committee to attend the meetings of because everyone who is anyone in ALA appears at one time or another. As a Chapter Councilor, I used to attend as many of these as I could. A large number of the Chapter Councilors do this as well. So you get to hear about the Association issues, as well as talk with colleagues who have similar responsibilities to your own. I have made some great friends through my Chapter experiences at ALA.

Some of my other Exec Board liaison responsibilities are on this list. For two years I was liaison to the HRDR Advisory Committee. I am still liaison to OITP Advisory, Constitution and Bylaws, Membership Meetings, and Research and Statistics.

The last category of committees are the joint committees. These are permitted in the Bylaws (Article VIII, Section 5). Joint committees are of two types: (1) those established between ALA and an outside organization, in which case the ALA Executive Board is the appointing authority (the Board may ask a unit of the Association to name representatives to the joint committee) and (2) those established between a unit of ALA and an outside organization, in which case the appointing authority is the designated unit. The joint committees are:

A Break from ALA

One of my alma maters (the least likely one) has a team working its way to the NCAA's "big dance." See the link from today's Brown Daily Herald:

W. hoops to shoot for league title this weekend - Sports

It is interesting that for the first time there is a three-way play off. I may even have a chance to go to Saturday night's game (assuming that they win tonight) since the play-off will be held at a neutral site: Yale. [It was a topic of discussion when I was at the Rotary Club Board meeting where I sat next to a fellow Brown alum.]

A side note....the spell check Blogger uses wants to replace "NCAA's" with "Nazis" -- what a concept!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 4: Offices

The ALA web page lists fifteen (15) Offices. Actually, two of them are sort of subsets of the third, but each acts independently. All of the offices except the ALA Washington Office (and its two components: Office for Government Relations and Office for Information Technology and Policy) are located at ALA Headquarters in Chicago. (More on that in the post on ALA buildings.)

If you want to know where your dues dollars go, this is an important part of the answer to the question. The current ALA offices include [I've learned, and I think the links from the ALA page will follow here]:

1OGR and OITP are housed at ALA’s Washington Office. Other offices are in Chicago.

Let me offer some personal reflections on the Offices with which I have dealt.

The Chapter Relations Office is the one which works most closely with the individual state associations to support their work, and to help ALA have a presence in the states. As a "Chapter President" in 1998-99, I found that I received a lot of good information. As a Chapter Councilor, I had a lot of interaction.

OIF is who you call if someone challenges material which your library owns. I have had a charmed career in this area, and have not had to use their services.

Because of my ALA work, I have been to the Washington Office during ALA Legislative Day, and have worked closely with staff there on CIPA and UCITA (OGR). I have been serving on the E-Rate Task Force which is part of the activities of OITP.

Most of my contacts with HRDR and ORS have been the result of serving as the Executive Board Liaison to their advisory committees. PIO does ALA's press releases and has called on me several times for radio "gigs." Public Programs lets me know about some of the nation-wide grant funded discussion programs which I have been part of over the years.

The last one I'll mention is the Governance Office. Those are the folks who are responsible for the "care and feeding" of the Executive Board and of ALA Council. There are some really great people in that office, and I know that when I leave the EB in June, I'll miss that close contact with many of them.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 3: Round Tables

ALA has seventeen Round Tables [This ALA page has links to all the Round Tables]. These are much less formally structured than the Divisions. Round Tables charge dues, but they are usually much more modest than Division dues. To start a round table, you need just 100 members. Unlike the divisions, Round Tables have no staff and no authority to speak on behalf of the organization. However, each Round Table does have an official staff liaison -- a paid staff person who helps move round table issues through the ALA processes.

The seventeen Round Tables are:
  • Continuing Library Education Network and Exchange (CLENERT)
  • Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange (EMIERT)
  • Exhibits (ERT)
  • Federal and Armed Forces Libraries (FAFLRT)
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBTRT)
  • Government Documents (GODORT)
  • Intellectual Freedom (IFRT)
  • International Relations (IRRT)
  • Library History (LHRT)
  • Library Instruction (LIRT)
  • Library Research (LRRT)
  • Library Support Staff Interests (LSSIRT)
  • Map and Geography (MAGERT)
  • New Members (NMRT)
  • Social Responsibilities (SRRT)
  • Staff Organizations (SORT)
  • Video (VRT)
Round Tables are a great way to get involved in the organization. For folks who are new, the best one is the New Members Round Table. NMRT has a structure which gives folks a taste for the organization and is often a launching pad to ALA involvement.

Round Tables are often smaller than divisions, and are a great way to get to know folks in the Association.

Currently the five largest Round Tables elect a representative to ALA Council. The remaining Round Tables elect an additional Councilor whose job it is to represent the twelve smaller Round Tables. On the ALA Ballot this spring is a question which would change the By-laws to add Round Table Councilors for those Round Tables which have a membership greater than 1% of the ALA personal membership. Current estimates are that this would add five more Councilors, and result in the "small Round Table Councilor" having to represent only six or seven Round Tables.

I've not been very active in Round Tables, but I was in GODORT for a while, and know that they publish a wonderful newsletter called Documents to the People which helps government documents librarians a great deal.

ALA 101 - Part 2: Divisions

ALA has eleven divisions. Within ALA, the divisions have distinct responsibilities, and the authority to speak on subject areas within their purview. The divisions are often divided into two kinds: type of library and type of activity.

I will not provide links to each division, but they each have separate sections on the ALA web site [the page I chose lists all the divisions with links].The "type of library" divisions (in alphabetical order, of course) are:
  • American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
  • Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
  • Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA)
  • Public Library Association (PLA)
The "type of activity" divisions are:
  • Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS)
  • Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
  • Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA)
    [Merged with Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) to form
    Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends, and Foundations
    (ALTAFF) edit 2/14/10)]
  • Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA)
    [Now called Library Leadership and Management Association LLAMA) edit 2/14/10)]
  • Library Information Technology Association (LITA)
  • Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)
  • Young Adult Services Association (YALSA)
To belong to a division, you must first belong to the American Library Association. Each division sets and charges its own dues. Those dues finance the activities of that particular division, with a portion going to support the overhead services provided by "big ALA." These services are spelled out in the ALA Policy Manual, and run to almost four pages of very small type.

Divisions have a great deal of autonomy. Each division has its own staff (although some of the smaller divisions share staff). They run programs, and create their own internal structure. They tend to have a governing board, and then sections to carry out the work of the division. Several years ago, the Public Library Association did away with its old structure of sections and went to the concept of "clusters."

Because a section is small, and generally consists of colleagues interested in the same topic or smaller focus on librarianship, it is usually easier to begin your activities in a section. Over the years, I have been involved with MARS (Machine Assisted Reference Services section of RUSA -- the newsletter always had Messages from MARS), BRASS (Business Reference and Service Section (also part of RUSA), and ICAN (Interlibrary Cooperation and Networking, a section of ASCLA).

Next will be Round Tables.

Monday, March 06, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 1: Overview

What is ALA? First remember, it is the world's oldest and largest professional library association. It was founded in 1876 by Justin Windsor, C.A. Cutter, Samuel S. Green, James L. Whitney, Melvil Dui [Melville Dewey], Fred B. Perkins, and Thomas W. Bicknell. As a note of interest, ALA is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Traditionally the head of the Boston Public Library serves as the agent for service for the Association. For the last several years this has been Bernie Margolis. One of the effects of this is that Massachusetts state law governs some portions of the ALA's activities. This does mean that it is Massachusetts laws which cover official decisions by the association including rules on conference calls and proxy voting. The last time legal counsel (note spelling) advised the association about electronic meetings and voting, Massachusetts state law had not caught up with technology, and it was not permitted (or forbidden).

You can join ALA and belong only to ALA. As a member benefits include the official journal, American Libraries, the ability to vote in elections for association-wide offices (President-Elect, Treasurer, and 100 members of Council), the ability to vote on changes to the Constitution and the Bylaws, and other benefits determined by the Membership office.

Within ALA there are five kinds of units: divisions, round tables, offices, task forces, and committees.

ALA 101 - Introduction

Most of what I am going to say in this series of posts is drawn from two sources: The ALA Handbook of Organization and my personal experience.

So what is my experience that I think I know so much? I have been active in three divisions: RUSA (and its predecessor RASD), ASCLA, and PLA. I have served on one or two PLA committees (not chairing any). I have served on the section board for ASCLA, co-chaired a pre-conference and ran for President (but lost by 4 votes). I have served on several RUSA/RASD committees.

For the past 10 years I have been a member of ALA's Council. I was the Connecticut Chapter Councilor from 1996 - 2003. I have been on the ALA Executive Board since.

I have chaired and been a member of the ALA Membership Committee. I have been chair and served on the Special Presidential Task Force on Membership Meetings (now called the Committee on Membership Meetings), and served on the second Core Values Task Force.

I am envisioning six seven parts (after this) to this series: Overall ALA Structure and Governance Overview; Divisions; Round Tables; Offices; Committees; Buildings and Finances; Overall ALA Structure and Governance. If I receive substantive enough questions, I will expand the series. I will happily take questions either as comments to specific posts, or as private emails.

On with the show!

[revised 3/8/2006; strikethrough for deletion; bold & italic for addition.]

Thursday, March 02, 2006

First Amendment, rant about USA PATRIOT ACT

OK, Leslie Burger inspired this rant (which has played in my mind several times over the past week). Leslie posted a link to the Chicago Sun-Times article which says that the American public knows more about the Simpsons than the First Amendment.

Now the rant. And Leslie gets partial credit along with a local resident. There is a movement afoot in Bridgeport to create a local arts council (I know, it is bizarre that we don't have one, but that is the way it is), and last night there was yet another meeting in the series to talk about it. This gentleman came up to me ahead of the meeting to talk about the USA PATRIOT Act and what was happening. And here is my rant:

I can't believe that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to issue its ruling in ACLU (CT) v. Gonzales. They heard the case back on November 2! When the case was heard in Bridgeport, Judge Janet Hall understood the urgency, and after hearing the case on August 31, she issued a ruling on September 9. Quickly!

Now, it has been FOUR months, and not a word.

I'm also very upset with Justice Ginsberg. ALA supported the ACLU which asked for an expedited hearing at the Supreme Court (to skip the 2nd Circuit). Ginsberg rejected the request as being premature because the 2nd Circuit had not heard it. She offered the opinion that they would deal with it expeditiously. They did not!!!

Now the Senate as voted with only ten senators standing for protecting our rights. I am appalled, because I know that the House will, yet again, rush to judgment.


Well, my daughter is now published. She wrote an article for the Boston University student newspaper on gaming. It's not bad, if I say so myself.

I hate snow

Snow March 2 2006
Originally uploaded by Michael Golrick.

This is a photo I took when I got to work this morning. The storm is supposed to dump 4 - 6 inches (if it is heavy snow and changes to sleet/rain this afternoon) or 6-9 inches (if it stays light & fluffy).

You can see the back of the Library, and understand better the ghost story where I talk about seeing all the lights turn on on the fifth floor.

Yes, that is my car, the electric blue PT Cruiser.

[Added info 3/3/2006: I have been learning how to use Flickr, and if you click on the photo, you will see boxes which highlight parts of the photo.]