Letters from ALCTS

bruce johnson, alcts president

From the President

Bruce Johnson, ALCTS President

Thank you

This has been an exciting year on many levels. ALCTS has celebrated its 50th anniversary of service to the profession. Thanks go to Olivia Madison and her hard working committee for a spectacular series of events and publications to mark our past, current, and future.

We also marked the golden anniversary of LRTS, a fitting description for our outstanding scholarly journal. I cannot say enough about the leadership that Peggy Johnson and the LRTS Editorial Board have shown in raising the standard of scholarship to which our membership aspires. The results of their efforts are not limited to the tangible manifestation of the journal, but more generally in the intellectual vigor of our many publications, programs, fora, and discussion groups.

There were many new print and online publications this year. This reflected the culmination of many years of work, as well as efforts to bring “hot” topics to print more quickly. We can not thank Narda Tafuri and the Publications Committee enough for their Herculean efforts.

ALCTS offered more continuing education opportunities this year by way of CE institutes, symposia, online courses, and pre-conferences than at any time in the past. This reflects an unambiguous call from the membership for such offerings. Many had a hand in making this happen, such as the Education Committee (thank you, Karen LeTarte) and the Program Committee (thank you, Genevieve Owens).

After many years of working to balance financial resources with funding demands, ALCTS finally got it right. The Budget & Finance Committee under the skillful leadership of Cheryl Kern-Simirenko made it look easy, but it was anything but.

A major focus of the year was to involve members who are newer to the profession in the life of the association. This took many forms, from the ALA Emerging Leaders program, to growth and retention initiatives from the Membership Committee (thank you, Sheila Smyth), to volunteer and leadership development events organized by the Leadership Development Committee (thank you, Betsy Simpson). I would particularly like to thank President-elect Pamela Bluh and her leadership cohorts for doing an outstanding job of proactively recruiting a terrific group of committee members and chairs for the coming year.

The new Five-Year Plan calls for a more vibrant, “nimbler” association that not only reacts more quickly to change, but drives that change in directions that reflects the best interests of our members and our library patron’s needs. The Planning Committee (thank you, Nancy Gibbs) has been hard at work building the infrastructure to implement the plan with your involvement. The Organization & Bylaws Committee (thank you, Dale Swensen) has similarly has been hard at work looking at ALCTS’ organizational structure to better support what we are doing now, and facilitating quicker change in the future.

ALCTS forcefully responded to many issues. Fora were used to allow for open discussion of topical (“hot”) issues with very short planning timelines. Fora included:

  • CMDS Forum on Collecting E-Resources Use Data: Outsource or In-house?
  • Disaster Recovery Forum
  • Forum on Library Education
  • Forum on Non-English Access
  • Forum on the Future of Cataloging
  • PVLR Open Forum: Libraries and University Presses Working Together?
  • RDA Update Forum

ALCTS was involved in revising ALA’s digital preservation policy, established a very active digital preservation discussion list, and established a new award to promote cooperative preservation efforts. (Thank you, Nancy Kraft and PARS.) Similarly, ALCTS launched a new award, the “ALCTS Outstanding Collaboration Citation,” to recognize and encourage collaborative problem-solving efforts in the areas of acquisition, access, management, preservation or archiving of library materials. (Thank you, Emily McElroy and SS.)

ALCTS has been actively engaged in a very turbulent year for cataloging. The Library of Congress’s (LC) spring 2006 series authorities announcement triggered a cascade of discussion about what role LC should play in the cataloging world, as well as what role ALCTS should play in helping to shape the future of cataloging. At the Board’s request, the Cataloging & Classification Section (CCS) Executive Committee developed several thought-provoking documents about ALCTS role as a catalyst and manager of change. The resulting studies, ALCTS and the Future of Bibliographic Control: Challenges, Actions, and Values and Overview of the Next Steps Documents Developed by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Sections, came to be known generically as the “Next Steps” documents and served as catalysts for an association-wide discussion of professional advocacy and what steps ALCTS must take to exert a more proactive leadership role in driving professional change. The CCS Executive Committee also drafted the ALCTS written testimony for LC’s Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. Thank you, David Miller and CCS for taking on this huge workload.

Similarly, the Task Force on Non-English Access finished its work and reported its conclusions in the TF’s final report with eleven recommendations for further action. Beth Picknally Camden and her Task Force have done ALCTS a tremendous service. This coming year will see implementation of the TF’s solutions.

I particularly want to thank Charles Wilt, Julie Reese, and Christine Taylor, for their diligence, creativity, and patience in helping us move the work of the association along. Without their grace under fire, much of our efforts would have come to naught. The next time you speak with Charles, Julie, or Christine, please let them know they are appreciated.

Finally, I want to thank you. Serving as your President has been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve gotten to speak with many of our colleagues over the course of the past year, and I never fail to come away feeling energized by your enthusiasm and drive. I remember in the doctoral studies that we were taught to never speak in absolutes ... but ALCTS members are the best!

I look forward to working with you in the coming years. We still have a lot of work to accomplish, and it is essential that you give your best to achieve the future that our profession and our patrons deserve. Are you with me?