One of the roles as ALA President is to serve on the ALA Executive Board, along with the other officers (Vice-President, Past-President, and Treasurer) and elected members of ALA Council. It is a hard-working group – with lengthy meeting agendas – that convenes not only at conference but also two additional times per year (plus participating in a number of conference calls). It is an impressive schedule of meetings [PDF]!
As I have not previously served on the ALA Executive Board, I was pleased to be able to observe the meeting in Chicago this weekend. The group had a very full agenda [PDF]. Much of the meeting was devoted to governance and oversight roles, particularly with respect to budget and finance, fund-raising, planning, nominating/elections, and conference scheduling. The Board, however, also spent significant time on the ALA Strategic Directions: Advocacy [PDF], Professional and Leadership Development [PDF], and Information Policy [PDF]. I found the reports provided by the staff members working in each of these areas highly informative.
I was also excited to see a demo of the new responsive design for the ALA website and hear an update on Libraries Transform, ALA’s recently-launched, multi-year campaign which aims to “increase public awareness of the value, impact and services provided by libraries and library professionals.” Given my work as ACRL President (2010-2011) on The Value of Academic Libraries Initiative, it will not surprise anyone to hear that I am thrilled with the message framing in Libraries Transform!
I also took special note of the report on “Membership: Making ALA More Welcoming” – which is one of my priorities. I believe ALA needs to serve as a platform for members to engage and build the future of the library community; however, I know that it is a large and complex association and that not everyone has a positive experience when they join. A number of great efforts are underway. I believe we can continue to improve in this, particularly through the affordances of technology that mean that member engagement is no longer restricted to face-to-face meetings. I’ll be talking more about this as a candidate for ALA president.
The Board also met in Executive Session to discussion honorary memberships, conduct an evaluation of the ALA Executive Director, and consider a report from an Accreditation Appeal Review Committee. As these sessions were closed, I got a few breaks to check email and stretch that the Board members did not.
Finally, the ALA Executive Board is also the Board of the ALA-APA (Allied Professional Association), the organization for the advancement of library employees. While I read the ALA-APA Library WorkLife newsletter, I appreciated this opportunity to learn more about the plans for how this group is moving forward.
All in all, it was a very interesting and educational experience for me to observe the Board at work. I want to thank Sari Feldman, current ALA President, for her warm welcome and to take a moment to acknowledge the ALA Governance Office staff who do a great deal of work in the background to ensure that these meetings run smoothly and efficiently.