Annual Report 1995–1996

David Farrell, ALCTS President


The mission of ALCTS is to provide its 5,445 members (and those of the American Library Association at large) leadership, programs, information and services in its functional areas of responsibility. ALCTS draws its membership from the fields of library science known as collections and technical services, which include the professional specializations of information acquisition, selection and access, description, organization, preservation and dissemination. ALCTS accomplishes its work through divisional and interdivisional committees, task forces and discussion groups, and its five sections representing the professional specialization of Acquisitions, Cataloging and Classification, Collection Management and Development, Preservation and Reformatting, and Serials.

Activities and Programs in the context of the American Library Association's Goal 2000

ALCTS closely coordinates all its programs and activities with those of the American Library Association, and depends on its parent organization for essential services including, most importantly, our expert support staff at headquarters. Areas of special importance in our relationship with headquarters are publishing, programming, budgeting, and fundraising.

The ALCTS Board strongly endorses "ALA Goal 2000" with its five-year plan framing ALA's national role in the emerging information age. In 1995–96, ALCTS supported and promoted ALA's goals in the following programs and activities. To:

  • position ALA prominently in the national dialog on information issues: ALCTS and its members play prominent roles nationally in support of this goal. For example, the Task Force on Meta Access is charged to define bibliographic control mechanisms for digital information. The Legislation Committee is expected to keep in touch with the ALA Washington Office and to keep our membership informed of important legislation and other developments on Capitol Hill.
  • stabilize the financial base: ALCTS is financially stable after successfully negotiating a budget shortfall in 1986. Financial management and long range planning in ALCTS are guided by the Five Year Financial Plan 1995–1999, with specific goals and objectives for increasing the division's financial strength. Our continuing education pre-conference programs and institutes consistently operate with positive balances, the division has reserves of at least 25 percent of the operating budget and an endowment of $28,000 and growing.
  • increase the utilization and efficient use of technology: A primary goal of the division has been to improve the use and effectiveness of information technology in such areas as communication, publishing, and distance learning. In support of this goal, the division publishes the online ALCTS Network News; issued "Guidelines for Computer Communications within ALCTS" (1996) with practical suggestions for its groups and members to improve their use of computer-based communication technology; and charged the Task Force on Electronic Communications to devise policies, procedures and other actions to ensure the division is realizing the full potential of information technology.
  • redefine library education and provide training for professionals in the new information age: ALCTS provides a wide variety of educational and training opportunities for its membership in a full schedule of conference and preconference programs, institutes and workshops. Redefining the professional competencies required by the new information age has been a major divisional theme and the subject of several programs including the 1996 President's Program at Annual Conference.
  • Intellectual Freedom: ALCTS contributed to the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee's initiatives this year, including sending a representative to their March 1996 workshop in Chicago.

ALCTS Goals and Achievements

The "information age"—characterized by the powerful emerging information technologies—is transforming our society, our libraries and our profession. ALCTS members, with specialized knowledge and expertise in the field, are well positioned to become leaders in developing and practicing the new information science. They need vision, leadership, and new knowledge and skills if they are to succeed. My goals and objectives as ALCTS president this year have aimed to address these needs for our members within the broader context of the related goals and purposes of the American Library Association.

ALCTS' goals for the year were (1) Membership: To stabilize and improve service to the member base; and (2) Librarianship: To define our profession for the new information age.

In 1995, membership recorded its third year of decrease, the most extensive decline recorded in more than a decade. Causes include national trends such as the reduction and reorganization of library technical services operations and a reduction of professionals engaged in the functions of acquisitions and cataloging. Technological innovations, fiscal constrains, and a divisional dues increase in 1994 also contributed to the loss of members. A number of recommendations to attract and retain members has been developed by the Membership Committee and Board.

The year's progress toward our first goal is demonstrated by the following:

  1. Consolidation of programming for institutes and workshops, pre-conference and conferences under a divisional Program Committee. Programming is perhaps the division's most important member service and revenue source. This step will enhance quality and consistency of future programming.
  2. Review of the Report of the Task Force on Meeting the Continuing Education Needs of Paraprofessionals. Action items were referred to divisional working groups. Future steps to attract members from paraprofessional ranks will include, I expect, presentation of ALCTS programs at regional meetings and via the Internet and distance learning technologies. We also established a clearinghouse for publications and resources within fields of interest to paraprofessionals.
  3. Update the Budget Committee's Five Year Financial Plan, 1995–1999. The Plan includes a market analysis and goals and strategies for maintaining the division's financial stability. Action items were referred to divisional working groups.

    Our goal to redefine librarianship requires that we frame the critical questions and provide timely, cogent information to our members through our extensive publication and continuing education programs.

    Activities which helped achieve our second goal include the following:

    1. Programs: ALCTS presented eight professional development institute at locations throughout the continental United States and eleven programs and three preconferences at the Annual Conference. Our programming, regional institutes and preconferences covered a broad spectrum of ALCTS interests. Institutes and preconferences, for example, included "Technical Services Workstations" (three times), "Collection Management and Development", "Demystifying Subject Cataloging", "Serials Cataloging in the Age of Format Integration", "Fundamentals of Acquisitions", "The Electronic Library", "SGML: What is It?", "Dewey 21", and "Outsourcing Technical Services".
    2. Publications: ALCTS publishes three periodicals: Library Resources and Technical Services, ALCTS Newsletter (which was redesigned this year), and the online ALCTS Network News. The Board approved four new publications and the 1997 North American Title Count. The "U.S. Periodical Price Index for 1996" and "U.S. Serial Services Price Index for 1996" were published in American Libraries (May 1996). These indexes are widely followed and cited by librarians for use in collections budget planning activities.
    3. Noteworthy Board Actions: Approved the "ALCTS Educational Policy Statement" which defines current professional competencies and educational needs. Appointed the Task Force on Meta Access, a blue-ribbon national committee with broad representation from ALA divisions, research libraries, the library of Congress and bibliographic utilities charged to pioneer describing access and bibliographic control mechanisms for information in electronic form. Appointed the Task Force on Electronic Communication to recommend actions to help the division realize the full potential of information technology. Established a Digital Resources Committee as a focal point for divisional investigation of issues in acquiring, managing and preserving materials in digital formats; an innovative condition imposed by the charge states the committee will cease to exist following the Annual Conference in 2000 unless it initiates a formal review. Responding to the call of ALA President Elizabeth Martinez to "reinvent" the ALA conferences, the ALCTS Board advised members and groups throughout the division to take action to make conferences more productive, useful and pleasurable by, for example, reducing meetings and programs and allowing members more time for professional development, individual learning opportunities, exhibits, networking, and exploring the local environment. The Board set an example by reducing its meeting time at MidWinter by 28%.
    4. Special activities: Seven members who have made extraordinary contributions to the division and profession were honored as recipients of the following awards:
      • Best of LRTS & Blackwell North American Scholarship Award: Samuel G. Demas, Peter McDonald, Gregory W. Lawrence
      • Bowker/Ulrich's Serials Librarianship Award: Jean Hirons
      • First Step Award (Wiley Professional Development Grant): Corinne C. Jacox
      • Margaret Mann Citation: Arlene G. Taylor
      • AS Leadership in Library Acquisitions Award: Joseph W. Barker
      • Five members who represent ALCTS interests on IFLA Standing Committees were provided travel support to attend the annual IFLA meeting.