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SKJ4ALA

I am running for American Library Association President and would welcome your ideas, suggestions and concerns.

To contact me off-blog, feel free to e-mail me at  either my personal e-mail <skjohns@gmail.com> or my campaign e-mail <skj4ala@gmail.com> 

I'd love to hear from you--Sara

 

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Thursday
Dec102009

Questions about the future directions of ALA

I have been itching to ask the questions below as I work on my campaign platform.  I'm a good listener and will appreciate responses from everyone who will take the time to answer, member or non-member.

ALA, as part of its environmental scan for the next strategic plan, has been conducting member forums at every state conference and some of you may have taken part in them. The ideas that are being reported on ALA Connect show caring, thoughtful, forward-thinking responses.  I know that attendance has been low at most of the forums because they are always competing with other great programs but there are proposals that really can drive the work of ALA.  Thus, I would like to ask for participation from you in my campaign by answering questions that are similar to those that ALA has been asking. Feel free to answer all or some of them, either as blog comments or in an e-mail to me at <skj4ala@gmail.com>.

1. What are the most important issues facing ALA today? Libraries? Our profession? How can ALA help solve those issues?

2. How can ALA strategically remain relevant in the future, including increasing membership and involvement, furthering the mission of the organization, and providing value to the profession?

3. Midwinter is next month. What brings members and others to Midwinter and Annual conferences? How do you see ALA changing traditional conference attendance in the future?

And, other thoughts and concerns are welcome. Thanks!

 

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Reader Comments (8)

These are all issues that ALA candidates -- and members -- need to be concerned about. External forces are converging that will force ALA to revise its structure and finances. We must remember that ALA is the largest, most respected, and most influential professional organization in our field. I, for one, want it to continue in that role. To answer your specific questions:

1. ALA needs to be the voice of libraries to the nation and the world. As such, it needs to represent the needs and interests of its diverse membership and present those needs to the rest of the world. ALA needs to be heavily involved in lobbying, public relations, and professional development for its members. ALA should not be involved in solving the specific problems of individual libraries, but should represent hte profession as a whole. Right now, our biggest challenge is promoting the value that libraries offer their local communities. ALA needs to inform the public that libraries are an investment in the community, not a drain on community resources.

2. This falls right out of #1 above. ALA needs to be the intermediary organization that promotes libraries to the world. If ALA succeeds in lobbying (The Washington Office), promotional campaigns (READ), and continuing education for membership, it will remain relevant for its members. If it diverges into other areas, there is a danger that it can become irrelevant.

3. ALA's financial model is based on two primary sources of income: membership dues and conference registrations. Traditionally, midwinter has been a time for meetings and getting the work done, whereas summer has been a conference of programs and professional development. With modern communications and office technologies, we no longer need to meet in person to complete committee work. Committees can accomplish all their work online. Midwinter offers ALA the chance to provide regional conferences that will attract members -- and lots of non-members -- from the local area. Midwinter needs to evolve into a somewhat smaller annual, with programs, discussions, and events that will benefit the membership. This is already happening, with discussion groups serving as programs and many committees choosing not to meet in Boston in 2010. We need to make the jump to a new midwinter meeting, which would actually increase attendance, provide more personal development opportunities, and attract new members.
December 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave Tyckoson
As an untenured SLMS newbie,I agree with much of what Dave says above, but feel it is more of a both/and... YES ALA must be the face and advocate for all libraries through public relations, lobbying etc. This critical role is especially evident during trying financial times such as these. But it is through ALA's grassroots network of librarians that help solve the individual issues and problems. Anything that makes the conferences more accessible and more productive makes sense, and making the local links stronger would, I think, achieve this.

Sara, thanks for asking these important questions... I think you are a strong and eloquent voice for all American libraries and would make a most effective president!
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