Letters from ALCTS
From the President
M. Dina Giambi, ALCTS President 2008–2009
Reflection and Expectations!
With the end of my presidential year fast approaching, it is time to reflect on past activities, achievements, and challenges and ponder expectations for the future.
The impact of the current global economy has been far-reaching and has affected ALCTS members and the operation of the division in a number of ways. During the process of offering committee appointments for 2008/2009, several individuals declined reappointments or new appointments because their libraries had significantly reduced support for travel funding or abolished it completely. Therefore, virtual appointments were offered as an alternative. Attendance by ALCTS members at the 2009 Midwinter Meeting in Denver was down and it appears that the same will be the case for the 2009 Annual Conference in Chicago. Unfortunately, some of our members experienced layoffs, furloughs, and frozen salaries or salary reductions.
Membership dues; registration fees for education offerings, including midwinter symposia, annual conference preconferences, Web courses, and Webinars; and publications are the three main resources of revenue for the division. The American Library Association (ALA) operates on a September-August fiscal year. The ALCTS membership numbers through the third quarter show a decrease of 7.5 percent.The two Denver symposia, “Implementing an Institutional Repository: Benefits and Challenges” and “Breaking Down the Silos: Planning for Discovery Tools for Library 2.0” had the two highest number of registrants among all the divisions. However, two spring regional workshops were cancelled due to low registration and three programs scheduled for Chicago were also cancelled because the featured speakers could not attend. The division’s highly respected peer reviewed journal, Library Resources and Technical Services, experienced a decrease in subscriptions that made it necessary to lower the page count for the 2010 volume to sixty-four pages per issue. This is most unfortunate timing given the quality and number of article submissions sustained under the expert leadership of two-term journal editor Peggy Johnson.
Much energy has been devoted to increasing the revenue stream from all the education offerings, particularly Web courses and Webinars. The Web-based “Fundamentals Series” offered courses focused on acquisitions, electronic resources and acquisitions, and collection development and management. The development of an expanded continuing education curriculum with increased revenue will enable ALCTS to support the many services and activities that do not generate revenue. The ALCTS Fundraising Committee, led skillfully by Susan Davis, was successful in securing continued support from most existing sponsors although a few had to lower their levels of support. Some new sponsors were also identified. Of course, division expenses were carefully monitored with cost savings implemented wherever possible.
Efforts were made throughout the division to increase communication among the membership. Name the technology and someone undoubtedly used it for committee or award jury work, interest group discussions, and task force business. I have been very pleased by the response to the ALCTS E-forum which recently celebrated its first anniversary with nearly 800 subscribers. The discussion topics have been quite diverse including disaster preparedness, copyright and digital collections, library budgets and the state of the economy, and national cataloging standards versus local policies.The recent general release of ALA Connect has already enhanced communication options further and will be of immense benefit to all ALA members. ALCTS is also in Facebook and Wikipedia.
The forums held in Denver covered a broad range of topics including “Are We Ready for E-Book Approval Plans?,” “Holdings Information Forum: E-serials Holdings: Whether, Why, and How?,” “RDA [Resource Description and Access] Update Forum,” “Who’s at the Wheel? What We’ve Learned About Patron-Driven Collection Development,” and “Creating and Sustaining Communities Around Shared Library Data” that focused on OCLC’s proposed change to their record use policy.
An excellent schedule of events is also in store for Chicago. The ALCTS 101 event, “ALCTS 101 Primer: Who We Are, What We Do and How You Fit” will give new members and others a sense of the opportunities the division offers to them. Programs include “Leadership Development in Transition: Steering the Ship from the Helm and Deck,” “Swingin’ With the Pendulum: Facing Cancellations in the Age of E-Journal Packages,” and the ALCTS President’s program “Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage” featuring James Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, The Art Institute of Chicago.
Much discussion was focused on a significant new initiative—the reorganization of ALCTS’ twenty-year-old structure. Surveys conducted in recent years identified the need to scrutinize the way in which the division is organized. Discussions were held with section/Council of Regional Groups executive committees and division committees in Denver. E-forums prior to Annual and an in person forum at Annual will be used to solicit additional member input. My expectation is that a new structure will be developed in 2009/2010 for implementation the following year.
However, this has not prevented ALCTS from moving forward with changes. The Preservation and Reformatting Section will become the Preservation Section in July 2009 with a restructured and reduced number of committees and interest groups. The ALCTS Organization and Bylaws Committee undertook a comprehensive analysis of the bylaws and will be proposing changes to streamline them and bring consistency across the content.
What are the benefits of serving as a division President? Well, we certainly do not get to sleep late at Midwinter and Annual. I have had to get up earlier than when I do when I go to work. Unfortunately, no one would ever describe me as a morning person. The best benefit is definitely the opportunity to meet so many new people and reconnect with others. A very close second is having been able to work more closely with the talented and supportive ALCTS staff Charles Wilt, Julie Reese, and Christine Taylor. Thank you to Charles, Julie, Christine, the members of the ALCTS Board, especially Past-President Pamela Bluh and Division Councilor Diane Dates Casey, and the division committee Chairs for having contributed to this year’s successes with patience and good humor.
Should Pamela, 2009/2010 ALCTS Nominating Committee Chair, or one of her committee members ask you to stand for office, consider the offer seriously.
It has been a true honor and privilege to serve as ALCTS President. Thank you for having given me such an amazing and unforgettable opportunity! It has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.