Before I provide a short wrap-up of the ALA Council proceedings at the 2016 Midwinter conference in Boston, please let me start by sharing what an honor it is to begin service as the YALSA Division Councilor. Previous YALSA Division Councilor Vicki Emery (who continues to serve as an at-large member of Council) is a tough act to follow, but I will do my best to continue to bring the issues that affect YALSA members to ALA Council, and communicate any “big ALA” issues that are of interest to the YALSA Board and membership as appropriate.
At the 2016 Boston Midwinter Council meetings, the first resolution brought before the body was a resolution that condemned Islamophobia. This measure was taken as staff and patrons who appear to be Muslim have been victims of Islamophobia. Council passed the resolution unanimously.
The next topic discussed was a resolution concerning accessibility to ALA conferences and meetings by people with disabilities. This received a resounding approval, and a task force (appointed by ALA President Sari Feldman) to has quickly been formed since the Boston conference. The Conference Accessibility Task Force will:
- Collect data from ALA members and conference attendees with disabilities;
- Establish a process for reviewing and addressing accessibility problems;
- Draft accessibility guidelines to be used by ALA in reviewing contracts, to ensure ADA and WCAG compliance;
- Research best practices for accessibility training and make a recommendation for implementation;
- Report progress to Council during the ALA Annual Conference 2016 in Orlando and ALA Midwinter Meeting 2017 in Atlanta; and,
- Make a final report, with recommendations, to Council at the ALA Annual Conference 2017 in Chicago.
The Library of Congress subject heading “illegal aliens” was decried in another resolution, with those supporting a resolution favoring the term “undocumented immigrants”. This also easily passed.
A resolution supporting the 2015 Advocacy Implementation Plan was discussed and passed. This recommends communication among all bodies of ALA when making advocacy efforts so that there is a consistent message to lawmakers and constituents when it comes to library issues.
Among the Memorial resolutions was one in honor of former YALSA Deputy Executive Director Linda Waddle, moved by the Division Councilor and seconded by past president Kim Patton.
All of the Council actions taken at Midwinter can be found here.
Also submitted to ALA Council are the many reports, including those from ALA Executive Director, Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Treasurer, Mario Gonzalez, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Some reports included language that required a vote by Council. The Constitution and Bylaws Committee brought forth a motion to accept an application of the Joint Council of Librarians of Color to become an affiliate of ALA. This was approved by Council vote. The Committee on Legislation and the Intellectual Freedom Committee brought forth a joint resolution with their reports clarifying an interpretation of the most recent edition of the Manual of Intellectual Freedom. This covered user generated content in library systems, and the clarified interpretation was approved by Council.
Executive Board Election
The ALA Executive Board election also took place to elect two candidates to three-year terms and one candidate (who received the third place number of votes) to complete a one-and-a-half year vacancy left by the death last year of Executive Board member Gail Schlachter. Winning election to three year terms were Andrew Pace and Karen Downing. John DeSantis was elected to the partial term.
Council Forum sessions are held Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings of each conference. These more informal gatherings allow proposed resolution language to be discussed, debated, and wordsmithed before the resolutions are brought before Council as a legislative body. This is invaluable to keeping Council sessions running smoothly.
Youth Council Caucus and Getting Involved
A final but extremely valuable resource is the Youth Council Caucus (http://connect.ala.org/youth-council-caucus). This subgroup of Council is spearheaded by the AASL, ALSC, and YALSA Councilors, and open to any Councilor with an interest in youth issues. The Youth Council Caucus discusses potential resolutions affecting youth librarians and patrons. If there are issues pertaining to youth librarians that you would like to see discussed before ALA Council, or if you are interested in running for ALA Council as an at-large member, please contact me at email@example.com. It is important that issues pertaining to youth librarianship and youth patrons are recognized and resolved, and keeping issues pertaining to teens and teen librarians in the forefront of ALA Councilors is paramount to our continued professional success.
Todd Krueger is a Selector in the Collection Development department at Baltimore County Public Library in Towson, Maryland. He currently serves as the YALSA Division Councilor.