LITA Board Affirms Openness and Transparency

On January 8, 2011, a member of the LITA Board began an unannounced live video stream of the Board’s first session during ALA Midwinter. This action raised several complex policy and legal questions that could not be answered on the spot, some of which involved legal liability. Following a brief discussion, the board voted to cease streaming, pending discussion and resolution of those policy and legal questions. We are saddened that this incident has been interpreted by some as an affront to the open sharing of Association content and proceedings.

The LITA Board is committed to fostering openness and transparency in its operations and communications. We are dedicated in particular to extending the rich programming and discussion that LITA fosters by reaching out to the LITA online community and pursuing the technological infrastructure and policy necessary to capture and stream high-quality content to the membership.

The Board is currently developing a set of guiding principles that will affirm our belief in openness and transparency as a core component of how LITA conducts business. We understand the importance of educating Board and Committee members on association governance issues for meetings held virtually and in-person. We also understand and place emphasis on informing and gathering feedback from the membership at-large regarding Board and Committee activities. We are similarly committed to elucidating and addressing the complex issues represented by the use of today’s technologies and current ALA policies. For example, the ALA Policy Manual (7.4.4 and 7.4.5) currently stipulates that conference meetings declared to be open are open only to registered attendees, which complicates the popular interpretation of the Open Meeting Policy with regards to streaming technology.

These issues are not exclusive to LITA, but impact the entire American Library Association and all its divisions and groups. The LITA Board promises it will be among the groups in ALA leading these discussions, and will actively seek a positive way forward. LITA members are recognized throughout ALA and beyond as leaders in technology. As much as we seek to push the envelope, we are bound to operate within certain guidelines. By raising these issues at the Association level, we mean to instigate a clarification and modification of ALA policy that will benefit the entire membership in a meaningful and sustainable way by bringing Association and Division meetings into the 21st century.

Streaming programmatic content is an identified need, articulated at several LITA meetings over the past year. In response to this need, the LITA Board approved a Content Streaming Task Force charge in December 2010 which will identify the legal, technological and policy issues related to providing content streaming as a core service to LITA members. Mechanisms will be explored for actively engaging and addressing questions and comments made by virtual participants.

The members of LITA’s Content Streaming Task Force will be appointed after the Midwinter conference to develop recommendations for the infrastructure we need to sustain content streaming and will communicate its work to, as well as solicit feedback from, LITA members. The LITA Board embraces technology not only as a means to do our work, but as an essential way to reach all LITA members. We look forward to and appreciate the collective collaboration of LITA members as we move forward.

Sincerely,
Karen J. Starr
KStarr (at) nevadaculture.org
LITA President (2010-2011)

4 thoughts on “LITA Board Affirms Openness and Transparency

  1. Great! I look forward to hearing about the adoption of these new guiding principles in the next few weeks so that this issue can be put to bed far in advance of this summer’s annual meeting. I’m also looking forward to this summer’s meetings being streamed for the benefit of our general membership.

  2. As a member of ALA, I’d like you to elaborate on what legal liability issues might have resulted as a consequence of live-streaming a board meeting of LITA. This was not a conference session where there may have been proprietary issues in regards to content. This was a board meeting. In essence, it appears that the stance LITA and ALA are taking is that any member of the organization who can not attend a board meeting, a meeting of the membership, etc. that occurs at a conference because said member has not paid the conference fee, is not entitled to be even a silent participant in the proceedings. Is this the kind of openness the ALA wants to foster? In my opinions, ALA and LITA have failed librarians everywhere when the live streaming was stopped. The further failure is that ALA and LITA do not see this as an opportunity to provide the membership different levels of access to “open” meetings regardless of a members ability to pay a conference fee or travel to a remote location. This response seriously makes me question whether I want to continue as a member of ALA.

  3. Karen, thanks for the explanation. I have a couple of questions:

    1. You state “the ALA Policy Manual (7.4.4 and 7.4.5) currently stipulates that conference meetings declared to be open are open only to registered attendees, which complicates the popular interpretation of the Open Meeting Policy with regards to streaming technology.” Last year, I chaired LITA’s E-Participation Taskforce. We were tasked with figuring out how to share physical open meetings/conference sessions with virtual participants. Everything the taskforce recommended were open tools (like livestreaming). And the LITA Board formally accepted our findings in a board meeting.

    So my question – did the LITA board go against ALA policy by recommending our findings? Or – how is one open meeting (ie., LITA Board) different from another open meeting (committee meeting)?

    2. Why did Melissa post this response for you? Other board members post under their own name.

    Thanks again for the responses!

  4. I hope that LITA and ALA will rewrite the open meeting policy in a more inclusive way. An open meeting which requires a conference registration is not an open meeting in any conventional sense. Two thoughts. 1) How LITA and ALA do their business should serve the membership–if we’re requiring conference registration for meeting participation to pay the costs of the conference, that’s backwards. That’s making the conference the point, rather than the business being conducted. 2) People who would tune in for a committee meeting on a January weekend are exactly the sort of people we should encourage to participate, wherever they are located.

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