Criteria for the selection of consultants to serve abroad

Adopted by ALA Council

The American Library Association (ALA), serving the public interest, assigns a high priority to the development of libraries, librarianship, and information services throughout the world. ALA reaffirms its continuing desire to foster international library development in all countries, and in return hopes to continue to learn from its participation.

In response to requests for assistance from abroad, ALA must be able to recommend librarians and information specialists who are both highly qualified and sensitive to cultural and national differences. Such consultants must be able to respond to well-qualified foreign colleagues who are prepared to consider, within their own national and professional context and resources, any advice or suggestions made by consultants.

International library consultants need to be alert to the ambivalence with which recommendations and advice may be received at any time; therefore, when offering their considered opinions, they must be especially sensitive to the professional accomplishments and national pride of their foreign hosts.

ALA will apply the following guidelines and criteria in recommending, nominating, and selecting international consultants.

General Professional Objectives

  1. Learn in depth the situation of the host country in its political, social, and professional aspects.
  2. Make certain the problem is correctly understood and established.
  3. Establish contacts with educated persons in the host country who feel themselves to have valuable perceptions and ideas which they want to see reflected in the consultant’s proposals.
  4. Encourage, when appropriate, the establishment of internships or short-term assignments for nationals of host countries; however, this concept must be used carefully so as not to exaggerate expectations of the interns.
  5. Initiate local planning conferences with experts from local institutions.
  6. Present a report, which clearly defines the problems and presents solutions, which are sensitive to the culture of the country and relate to its library needs.

Consultants should possess the following

  1. Professional Qualifications:
  2. Broad library background with appropriate specializations.
  3. Conversant with current library theories and practice.
  4. Broad knowledge of library and library related organizations, information services and networks.
  5. Broad professional contacts.
  6. Practical management or operational experience.
  7. Conceptual Orientation.
  8. Experience in standard setting and implementation.
  1. Personal Qualifications:
  2. Appreciative of attitudes and views of persons from other countries and different cultural or ethnic backgrounds.
  3. Receptive to new ideas.
  4. Skilled in interpersonal relations.
  5. Knowledgeable or skilled in a foreign language; if possible in the language of the host country.
  6. Knowledgeable in social, political, and cultural affairs.
  7. Experience in working abroad.
  8. Skilled in listening and in oral and written expression.

The Association’s Responsibility

  1. It is recognized that consultanships can sharpen and broaden professional qualifications and give consultants a valuable understanding of program quality, operational techniques, and managerial competence. Therefore, it is the responsibility of ALA to encourage consultancies of highest professional standards.
  2. The Association should make clear to foreign governments and institutions that when recommending consultants it follows its stated policy which does not condone violations to human rights or discrimination by race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.
  3. The Association should announce in American Libraries and other appropriate publications or circulars, requests for library consultants who are received from organizations and institutions here and abroad; it should also publicize the international activities and work of professionals so engaged.
  4. The Association through its International Relations Committee (IRC) and International Relations Officer (IRO) should provide coordination of consultants’ activities and establish a working list of qualified consultants.
  5. The Association requests copies of reports be filed with the IRO. ALA members who act as consultants under other agencies are requested to file copies of their reports with the IRO.

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