It is an interesting time to be an elected officer. While many in the nation rallied to raise their voices during the presidential inaugural weekend, I was grateful to be working with ALSC members and leadership at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta on strategic and visionary work to carry us through the next several years.
On Friday the ALSC Mini Institute opened our conference, and closed our re-imagined 2016 National Institute. Filled with rousing speeches and packed breakout sessions, it was a wonderful way to come together. Jacqueline Woodson sent us off in her final keynote, suggesting that much of what people may express now as anger comes from a place of fear, and asking us to find empathy for those who are afraid.
Following Midwinter, we learned that ALSC had been awarded the 2017 GLBTRT Award for Political Activism for the decision to cancel the Institute in North Carolina, and I have never been prouder to be a member of ALSC.
Attendees at our “Leadership and ALSC” session on Saturday morning brainstormed objectives for Areas of Strategic Action that the Board had identified during our October strategic planning day. We refined those objectives at our Board meeting that afternoon, and are putting the finishing touches on the entire plan online this month. Stay tuned for the release of the plan, with action areas for transforming ALSC, transforming children’s librarianship, and transforming communities through libraries.
Contributing to ALSC
On Sunday, committees got to work at our All Committee meeting, and I enjoyed the chance to sit in and listen to some of the amazing work you are all doing. I talked directly with some of you about volunteering for the next round of appointments to ALSC process committees, and I’m now getting started with my appointments advisory group online to put those in place over the course of this spring.
Throughout Midwinter I was able to catch up on what I missed by following the ALSC conference blogging. The ALSC blog always welcomes guest bloggers!
The Importance of Mentorship, Today
On a personal note, a highlight for me was the final day of conference, when ALA Council passed a memorial resolution for Ruth Gordon. Ruth was an important mentor for me, in librarianship as well as in ALSC, and I learned so much from Ruth, in part, because she sought to learn from me as well.
Being a mentor may feel challenging. You will not have answers to all your mentee’s questions. However, having someone with other experience and perspective to help you think through an approach or an issue is an invaluable asset, and the relationship gives in both directions.
The ALSC Mentorship Program is accepting applications for mentees and mentors through February 24. What better time to gain a partner in action? Sign up today to be an ALSC mentor, or mentee.--Nina Lindsay, ALSC Vice-President/President Elect
I’ve never been prouder to be a librarian or your ALSC Division Councilor than I was at the 2017 ALA Midwinter Meeting. We had important work to do at a critical time in our nation, and raising my voice on behalf ALSC, our membership, and the children we serve was—and continues to be—a tremendous honor.
Library workers and advocates united in Atlanta on the eve of the U.S. presidential inauguration and a sea change in our political landscape. As you can imagine, feelings were deep, words were strong, and tensions were high as we talked next steps for libraries. Despite the challenges and anxieties we faced, the energy and camaraderie among Council members was invigorating, empowering, and palpable. I couldn’t have imagined being anywhere else on that January weekend.
While you can review the complete list of Midwinter 2017 documents for details (a list of related Council actions is forthcoming), here’s a brief recap of the Council work I found most significant as both a librarian and an ALSC member:
ALA Town Hall: Library Advocacy and Core Values in Uncertain Times. Since many ALA members expressed concerns about the post-election impact on the association’s positions and advocacy efforts, the ALA Executive Board invited Council and general membership to a town hall-style meeting immediately following Council I on Sunday, January 22. Cheryl Gorman, a Harwood-trained facilitator, invited participants to share their thoughts and experiences with ALA leadership as an important first step in shaping the future work of the association. Many Council and ALA members stepped up to the microphone to make heartfelt statements, which you can read in a PDF of the captioned text. If you’re a Facebook user, you can also watch the 90-minute session via the American Libraries magazine page.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as a Fourth ALA Strategic Direction. To ensure that the work of the recent ALA task force continues, ALA President-Elect James G. (Jim) Neal asked Council to approve the addition of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as a fourth strategic direction for the association. Before the unanimous vote, many Council members stepped up to the microphone to speak in favor of this action. I was thrilled to join them and share the prominent place diversity and inclusion holds in ALSC’s 2018-20 strategic plan. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion joins ALA’s three other strategic directions—Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development—approved in June 2015.
Resolution on Education Requirements for Future ALA Executive Directors (DEFEATED). Perhaps the most contentious issue to come to the Council floor in Atlanta was the educational requirements for the next ALA Executive Director (ED). With the announcement of Keith Michael Fiels July 2017 retirement, Council members began discussing a 2000 resolution requiring that the ALA ED hold the MLIS degree. After Orlando, the possibility that the MLIS become a preferred but not required credential was introduced, and this idea was presented to Council as the Resolution on the Education Requirements for Future ALA Executive Directors. Receiving strong support and harsh criticism, the resolution was ultimately defeated by a very close vote of 78-75. This means the 2000 resolution will be upheld, and future ALA EDs must hold the MLIS degree.
Resolution on Family/Caregiver Status (PASSED). Due to lengthy discussions and feedback from members during both Council sessions and fora, Council passed the Resolution Establishing Family/Caregiver Status as a Protected Class in ALA Volunteer Work. Details of how this resolution will be implemented by ALA units (including ALSC) is still being examined, and we’ll be sure to keep our members informed as we receive additional information.
Honorary Membership for Ann Symons. After hearing several testimonials praising her years of dedicated service to ALA, the library profession, and the LGBTQ community, Council voted to elect Ann Symons as Honorary Member. According to GLBT News, “The honor recognizes [Ann’s] contributions to intellectual freedom, access and service to the LGBTQ community. She will receive official recognition during the Opening General Session at ALA Annual in 2017.” Ann joins an elite group of library workers and advocates awarded this special membership category.
Memorials and Tributes. Memorial resolutions were passed in honor of J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Robert (Bob) Alan, Valerie Bross, Sandra (Sandy) Friedman Dolnick, Nettie B. Taylor, Ruth Gordon, John Shuler, Karen Avenick, and Warren (Jim) Haas. Upon her retirement as Executive Director of the ALA Washington Office in May 2017, Emily Sheketoff was honored with a tribute resolution.
Council Election Results. Councilor-at-Large Mario M. Gonzalez and New Hampshire Chapter Councilor Amy Spence Lappin were elected to serve on the Executive Director Search Committee; Patricia (Patty) M. Wong, Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada, and Trevor A. Dawes were elected to three-year terms on the ALA Executive Board.
Youth Council Caucus (YCC). After Council I on Sunday, January 21, I co-convened the Youth Council Caucus (YCC) with AASL Councilor Diane Chen and YALSA Councilor Todd Krueger. After sharing highlights from the three youth divisions, we discussed the future of the YCC and how we can make the group more viable for our respective memberships. Ideas included changing the meeting time and day and hosting informal gatherings in the Council suite at both the Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. As the 2017 ALA election approaches, we’re encouraging our respective memberships to check out the Councilor-at-Large candidates’ biographies included in the ballot, look for members of any of the three youth divisions (AASL, YALSA, and, of course, ALSC), and consider lending their support to increasing the youth division representation on Council.
Council fora. I participated in all of Atlanta’s three Council fora sessions, which took place from 8:30-10 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Traditionally, each forum is an opportunity to talk informally (i.e. no Robert’s Rules of Order) with other Council members, many of whom are seeking feedback on resolutions they plan to bring to an upcoming Council session.
As mentioned in my Orlando report, attending three Council sessions and two ALSC Board meetings is just part of my duties as ALSC’s designee to the governing body of ALA. Outside of conferences, I keep up with issues and discussions appearing on the Council listserv and collaborate with the AASL and YALSA division councilors on potential resolutions affecting youth. I’m always sure to keep the ALSC President and Board of Directors apprised of what’s coming up so we can maintain our commitment to both a knowledge-based decision-making process and the core values of ALSC.
Does all this sound like something you’d be up for doing, too? Then nominate yourself for the position of ALSC Division Councilor! My term will end at the 2018 Annual Conference in New Orleans, and we need your energy and enthusiasm to continue bringing a strong youth voice to ALA Council. The 2018 Nominating Committee is already hard at work looking for great candidates to place on the Spring 2018 ballot, so why shouldn’t one of them be you? Fill out the nomination form today! The deadline is March 31.
As we look ahead to the 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago, I’ll be sure to keep you informed about ongoing Council discussions affecting the youth and families we serve. Of course, you can always reach out to me with your questions and feedback about Council and Council-related issues. I welcome your input at any time.
Thank you again for this incredible opportunity to serve ALSC. See you in Chicago!—Jenna Nemec-Loise, ALSC Division Councilor
ALSC has been named the recipient of ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) Award for Political Activism. The award will be presented on Monday, June 26, 2017, during the Stonewall Book Awards program at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.
The ALSC Board of Directors is recognized for its efforts to stand for nondiscrimination by cancelling its 2016 National Institute that had been scheduled to be held in North Carolina due the repealing of all GLBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances throughout North Carolina.
“On behalf of the steadfast 2015-16 ALSC Board of Directors, I’d like to sincerely thank the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table for this humbling honor,” said Andrew Medlar, ALSC immediate past president. “Cancelling the 2016 ALSC National Institute in Charlotte was not an easy thing to do, but standing up for our organization’s core values is something we must always do, and we’re very grateful for the collaboration and friendship of GLBTRT.”
In announcing the award, GLBTRT Chair Deb Sica stated: "The careful consideration and subsequent bravery of ALSC leadership and the incredible support of the membership in their stand against discriminatory practices cannot and should not go unrecognized. We thank them for their thoughtful actions in challenging times."
The GLBTRT Award for Political Activism seeks to recognize librarians and library related organizations who have made outstanding contributions in the area of GLBT activism. The award consists of a certificate and $1,000.
To learn more about GLBTRT Awards, please visit the award webpage.
Many thanks to the following generous contributors to ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website.
Belpré Award Endowment
Friends of ALSC
Lisa Von Drasek