Hello YALSA members and other interested parties! As your representative to the ALA Council, I am pleased to bring you this report of Council activities and actions from the 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago.
My conference roommate, Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) Councilor Martin Garnar, provided a large percentage of this report and I must credit him with much of the following:
After the usual opening business, including finalizing the slate of nominees for the Council Committee on Committees (which assists the president-elect with committee appointments) and the Council representatives to the Planning & Budget Assembly, Courtney Young, ALA Past President and chair of the search committee for the new ALA executive director, gave her report on the committee’s progress. The search firm of Isaacson Miller has been engaged to assist with the search, and they hope to have interviews in October to coincide with the October Executive Board meeting in Chicago. The goal is to have a new executive director in place by Midwinter 2018. In the meantime, Mary Ghikas will serve as interim executive director. ALA President Julie Todaro gave a report on her activities and ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels gave updates on Executive Board actions since Midwinter 2017 and on implementation of Council Actions taken at Midwinter 2017. Under new business, Council took up a resolution on global climate change passed at the virtual membership meeting on June 8th. The IFRT board voted to endorse in principle, and this resolution was debated on the floor of Council for almost an hour, with some of the time devoted to attempts to refer or postpone the resolution until some changes could be suggested. Instead, changes were made on the floor and the resolution was adopted as amended. Kathi Kromer, the new director of the ALA Washington Office, and Adam Eisgrau, director of the Office for Government Relations, gave a report on the office’s advocacy efforts. At the close of Council, the elections for the Committee on Committees and the Planning & Budget Assembly opened for the afternoon.
Winners of the election for the Committee on Committees and the Planning & Budget Assembly were announced. Martin Garnar, chair pro tem and incoming chair of the Committee on Diversity (and IFRT Councilor) brought two action items to Council: the adoption of official definitions for equity, diversity, and inclusion and a resolution on Libraries as Responsible Spaces. The definitions were adopted as presented. After striking the first Whereas clause in the resolution, Council adopted the resolution as amended. Other committee reports included the Policy Monitoring Committee, the Committee on Organization, and the International Relations Committee. Reports from other groups included the Center for the Future of Libraries and the Freedom to Read Foundation, the latter including updates on the foundation’s litigation efforts. Finally, the Conference Accessibility Task Force report was delivered by co-chairs Mike Marlin and Chris Corrigan. The report includes 80 recommendations for improving accessibility at conferences and represents an incredible amount of work.
Susan Hildreth, ALA Treasurer, presented her report along with a request for Council to approve the FY 2018 Budgetary Ceiling (approved). Ann Dutton Ewbank, outgoing chair of the Committee on Legislation, presented the COL report, which was information-only and had no action items. Pam Klipsch, outgoing chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee, presented the IFC report, which included two actions items: adoption of Politics in American Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights and adoption of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. Both were adopted and will be added to the list of official interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. There was also a resolution commemorating the 20th anniversary of the court decision striking down the Communications Decency Act.
Council Forum: Each night preceding a Council meeting, there is an informal meeting of Councilors open to all interested parties for the purposes of introducing draft documents for comments before final versions are presented to Council, along with informal discussions of other matters before Council. As less than a quarter of Councilors attend these meetings, there is some debate as to whether some of these discussions should be reserved for the official Council business meetings. One attendee made the distinction that Forum should be for discussion, but debate should be reserved for the Council floor, which I think sums up the feelings of those in attendance. As the conference switches to the new condensed model starting in 2018, it may be necessary to modify the timing and frequency of Council Forum, but I believe that it will continue to serve as an important venue for discussion.
Youth Council Caucus: At each conference, the AASL (American Association of School Librarians), ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children), and YALSA Councilors convene to discuss potential matters of interest that should be or are being brought forward at ALA Council that specifically affect librarians that serve youth and the youth that is served in school and public libraries. Other interested councilors and conference-goers are also invited to attend. We hosted a group of fifteen members who engaged in a rousing discussion of ways to better promote this group.
Please let me know if you have any questions about Council actions and activities. All Council documents are publicly available on the ALA Connect site.
YALSA Division Councilor