By Jenny Emanuel
Once again, Council sessions were rather uneventful, marked mostly by the fact that they finished on time and without any major controversies. Council in Washington D.C. was overshadowed by an air of activism. This was largely due to its vicinity to ALA’s Washington office and its proximity to Congress and President Obama. The Annual Conference was well attended despite the economic downturn. No doubt this was due to D.C.’s proximity to several major cities, and in turn, large populations of librarians who did not need to fly in order to get to the conference. The final Council III session began at 7am on the final day of Annual so that Councilors could participate in the Library Day on the Hill. Although the early start meant that everyone in attendance was extremely groggy, much was accomplished throughout the conference.
Perhaps the biggest vote of Council was the adoption of the ALA 2011-2015 Strategic Plan.
During the sessions, the Council:
- Passed the “Resolution Reaffirming Equal Employment Opportunity for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Librarians and Library Workers” in response to the harassment of some transgender librarians at previous conferences.
- Passed a resolution against the proposed closure of the School of Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University.
- Passed a resolution calling for non-discrimination in ALA conference contracts.
- Created a Retired Members Round Table (RMRT)
- Passed the “Resolution to Ensure Equitable Access to all Formats of Electronic Content through Libraries.”
- Affirmed that the Library Bill of Rights entitles prisoners’ the right to read.
- Passed a “Resolution on Ensuring Summer Reading Programs for all Children and Teens,” some of which have been reduced or cut in our tough budget times.
Although a resolution concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was posted to the Council listserv prior to the conference, nothing concerning these topics was brought forth. Since this resolution was never submitted, Council was largely without any controversial topics. The only topic that generated considerable debate was a resolution devoted to Institutional Review Boards and academic freedom, but this was ultimately referred to various other groups within ALA.
As always, documents related to Council have been posted on ALA’s website here. I also want to encourage NMRT members to consider running for Council in the next election since serving on council would give new members a chance to be heard within the association. Overall, this experience has really shown me how ALA is run and why ALA does some of the things that it does.