The Voice of ALCTS in Action

Dina Giambi

One of the responsibilities of the ALCTS President is to write a column for the six issues of the ALCTS Newsletter Online ( ANO) that appear during her/his term of office. Rather than identifying a set of topics in advance, I decided to select a topic closer to the submission deadline for each column.

In recent ALCTS survey results, the ALCTS e-forum, and e-mails, remarks have been made regarding the need for ALCTS to be more responsive, and in a timely fashion, to issues related to the specializations it represents. I will illustrate a number of instances in which the voice of ALCTS has been heard in the national library community. In some cases, it was necessary to take action in a matter of days. Luckily, technology has made it possible for drafts to be shared and finalized very quickly.

Members of the ALCTS Board of Directors are regularly asked to draft remarks and provide information to the ALA Washington Office. In October 2007, then ALA President-elect Jim Rettig testified before the U.S. House of Representatives' House Administration Committee at an oversight hearing on the Library of Congress (LC). The testimony described the dependency of America’s libraries on LC for the provision of bibliographic records and the need for this service to continue, with a description of the financial implications of reduced funding. ALCTS provided the content for these remarks.

Funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is the responsibility of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. In June 2008, the Subcommittee recommended a Fiscal Year 2009(FY09) budget of $10 million for NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access, a cut of 45 percent from FY08 funding. The ALA Washington Office again turned to ALCTS to provide examples of the impact of past preservation initiatives and programs funded by NEH. Andrew Hart, then Chair of ALCTS’ Preservation and Reformatting Section, took the lead to gather information for the Washington Office. Hart noted that NEH’s grants for education and training have been significant resources for libraries, particularly to the many small libraries that lack the means to devote support to preservation efforts. Hart also commented that Nancy Kraft, Head, Preservation Department at the University of Iowa, had received disaster response training through programs supported by NEH. Kraft applied her disaster response skills to the recovery efforts during the floods in Iowa in spring 2008.

Over the past two years, ALCTS has been actively involved in the events that occurred as a result of LC’s April 2006 announcement that it would cease creation of series authority records. The responses and the actions taken involved a great deal of work on the part of Cataloging and Classification Section’s (CCS) Executive Committee, several CCS task forces, and other CCS members, as well as the ALCTS Board. The documents that were produced include the ALCTS response to the initial series announcement; testimony for the public meetings held by the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control; and an in-depth response to “On the Record: the Report of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control.” “Ten Actions for ALCTS” identified short and long term actions that ALCTS would take alone or in collaboration with others to address the recommendations in On the Record. A task force has been formed to begin work on the actions. The links to many of these documents are available on the ALCTS web site.

Diane Dates Casey, ALCTS’ Division Councilor, is the ALCTS representative on ALA Council. It is the Division Councilor’s responsibility to present resolutions on the division’s behalf to Council. At the 2008 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Casey submitted the “Resolution on Support for Funding for Cataloging and Bibliographic Control at the Library of Congress” and the resolution “Adopting the Definitions of Digital Preservation and the Revised Preservation Policy for the American Library Association.” Council unanimously passed both.

ALCTS also officially supports actions taken by other divisions and/or round tables. In May 2008, the ALCTS Board voted to support the content of letters written by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Government Documents Road Table (GODORT) regarding the Federal Depository Library Program and the guidelines for regional depository libraries. All comments regarding this issue were forwarded to the Government Information Subcommittee of ALA’s Committee on Legislation (COL) so that COL could prepare a response on behalf of ALA.

I have described just a few of the activities with which ALCTS has been involved, taking the lead for ALA in many instances. The ALCTS website and ANO are excellent resources that can be used to monitor ALCTS activities and actions.