ALA Council Photo Gallery now online

Who represents you at the state or national level at ALA? Now you can put a face to a name. While I have picky design issues with this page I think it’s a great step forward towards transparency and accessibility to an otherwise large and sometimes intractable organization. Nice job!

freedom: the powerful and the powerless

I think Sarah said it best when she posted about Michael Gorman’s latest piece [pdf] in American Libraries: Michael Gorman alienates and divides our profession. More in the comments over at Library Crunch, Free Range Librarian, and See Also….

The whole thing depresses me, honestly. I’ve respected Michael’s politics historically, and I voted for him for ALA President and for that I apologize. I’m beginning to realize just how important tone can be, in myself and in others. I don’t care how good people’s politics are, if they can’t at least make an effort to discuss things with me as if I were worth talking to, I worry about their ability to lead and inspire others who aren’t already on board with their ideas. This affected my choices for Council this year, as much as I respect Greg McClay’s honest attempt to change ALA from within and as much as I like talking to him personally, the tone of his posts makes me question his ability to bridge-build with people who don’t share his beliefs. I have similar feelings about current Councilors on both sides of the spectrum, it may be true that they feel the same way about me, some of them certainly seem to.

However, with Greg and myself and other people with blogs, it stands to reason that we’ll let more of ourselves shine through. You have the choice to read or not to read. I’m not the boss of you. In fact, due to my position on Council, my readers are more the boss of me than vice versa in some sort of quirky aggregate way. One would think, then, that being “the boss” of ALA — though as we all know it’s pretty tough to get anything done with a one year term — you’d pay special attention to the fact that you represent everyone. Maybe I think this because I exist in a constant state of performance anxiety: I want to do well on Council, on this blog, in my talks, at my job, in my relationship, in my town. I can’t imagine it being otherwise. Who doesn’t want to Do Good? Who doesn’t want to Fix the Problem(s)?

If I was the boss of you, I would want you to be happy. I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work otherwise.

ALA Election Finals

The ALA elections are over. 14,441 people voted. The new ALA President Elect is Loriene Roy. The dues increase passed by a fairly close margin. The new incoming Councilors At Large are Rosie L. Albritton, Cassandra G. Barnett, Beth E. Bingham, Carolyn Sue Brodie, Kate Ann Corby, Bob R. Diaz, Heidi W. Dolamore, David L. Easterbrook, Ann Dutton Ewbank, Amy Gonzalez Ferguson, Nancy Fredericks, Carolyn P. Giambra, Michael A. Golrick, Michael Gutierrez, Rochelle L. Hartman, Beth K. Hill, Dora T. Ho, Patricia M. Hogan, Dennis J. LeLoup, Ginny B. Moore, Andrea M. Morrison, Ria Elizabeth Newhouse, Nancy C. Pack , Jo Ann Pinder, Ellen M. Riordan, Larry Romans, Frances R. Roscello, Mark C. Rosenzweig, Gail A. Schlachter, Barbara Silverman, Margie J. Thomas, Shixing Wen and Nancy P. Zimmerman. More election results are on this page and Michael has the numbers for the At Large Councilor votes.

ALA Election Time

I’m not certain if I selected a paper ballot or an electronic ballot this year. I seem to recall that in the last two years I’ve opted for a paper ballot, which did not get properly forwarded to my home address (my permanent address is not the same as my current address) and I had to get some last minute paper ballot. This year it’s going to be easier because whenever I get my ballot, I’ll have a list of candidates ready. These are the people I am voting for, and you can vote for whomever you want. Some of these people are relative newcomers to the field who impressed me with their moxie when I met them at Midwinter and others are people I’ve known for a long time. Please take a good long time with the candidate bios, it’s always a fascinating look at parts of the profession you may not personally be involved with. Thanks to everyone for running. I look forward to watching you from the sidelines.

ala elections: thoughts, entreaties and warnings

Karen Schneider uploaded a picture of the postcard that ALA members willl be getting alerting them to the email that will be coming which gives them instructions for how to vote online. While I find this process cumbersome, the online voting has improved markedly in the past few years. It’s hard to get such a large bunch of non-techie people to do something online. And it’s very hard when those people are voting in different numbers and combinations of elections. Of course, if this were a Web 2.0 scenario, there would be a button on the main page of the ALA website that would say “You haven’t voted yet….” which would link directly to the balloting system and disappear once you had completed voting. Here are a few other thoughts I had about an online voting scenario in my dream world.

  • Maybe it would indicate your status if you were partiallly through voting.
  • There would be a way to get your voting password emailed to you by answering a security question online.
  • No one would even suggest that you get help with online voting via fax.
  • Candidates would campaign online and could embed URLs and photos in their profiles.
  • You would be able to sort candidates by state of residence, professional affiliation, gender, or other criteria.
  • Advocacy groups could link to profiles of their preferred candidates when picking their slates.
  • Bios would have realtime hit counts on pages.
  • You would be able to view your ballot and the candidate bios easily in separate tabs or panels of the same browser window.
  • Submitting and checking your ballots would be simple, requiring a click or at most two.
  • There would be a status page showing how many people had voted via electronic and paper ballots.
  • This page would be updated in real time and would be shown as a percentage of the eligible voters of ALA.
  • Election results would be available online as soon as polls had closed and paper ballots were tabulated.
  • Results would come with handy graphs showing percentages and total vote counts for every election, even the ones you didn’t vote in personally.
  • Results would link back to the candidate bios so you could learn about who was now in governance. Press releases anouncing winners of every election would be sent to appropriate media outlets. I could go on and on.

At some level I’m partial to the town meeting style of governance which should come as no surprise. I also know that it becomes impractical when dealing with groups the size of ALA. I just want the evolution of electronic elections at ALA to not come to a grinding halt just because we’ve got something online that works.

A membership dues increase is on the ballot, for example. There was a lot of discussion at Council meetings in Texas that Council needed to be “speaking with one voice” about the necessity of the 30% increase, to be phased in over three years. I think the idea of speaking with one voice on something we are all asked to vote on undermines the idea of why you have a representative democracy in the first place, but I’m touchy about money. At the same time, I understand why ALA needs more money. Please vote, and ask me or your favorite ALA representative if there’s something you don’t understand. You can even do it by fax.

changes in the blogosphere

Sarah, the Librarian in Black, has a new job. Karen, the Free Range Librarian, is dealing with some funding challenges at her place of work and has stepped down from ALA Council so that she can focus on work and life stuff. This has sparked more interesting discussion about the value of ALA versus peoples’ ability to substantively participate if they have limited time or financial resources. Michael from Tame the Web is condo shopping outside of Chicago, and I’ve been looking into some interesting job options for when the tech mentoring stuff wraps up in September.

why you should run for Council

My ALA Council term is up next year. Originally I intended not to run again because I was going to be out of the country. Now I’m not intending to run again because I’d rather work in highly fulfilling low-paying jobs at home and not worry about saving money and time to make two week-long trips per year to cities I’ve already been to. I also don’t like institutional politicking as much as I thought I might. I was very happy to do it for three years. One of the best parts of Council meetings was getting to sit next to Jenna and talk about what was going on and our crazy librarian hopes and dreams. She’s on the nominating committee and has prepared a little page about why you should consider running. If you’re interested, get in touch with her. If you have questions, feel free to run them by me. [eli]