LITA Councilor’s Report

[Updates underscored] Council 3 wrapped up at 12:15 on June 29, very timely and very congenial. Over our three Council meetings we had several items on the agenda that are very LITA-relevant. I will try to provide links to documents if/when they go online. Special thanks to our charming parliamentarian, Eli Mina, who in his Peter Lorre voice gently keeps us in line, and to ALA ED Keith Fiels for providing a rock-solid wi-fi connection that made many Councilors very happy. The days when 200 librarians could vanish for a week without any connectivity are long behind all of us. Note: we had over 27,000 registrants for this conference–an all-time record, 1,000 registrants higher than the runner-up (San Francisco, the last time we were there) and 7,000 more than Orlando.

Council items LITA-worthy:

Resolution in support of community broadband, out of Committee on Legislation, with strong encouragement from OITP. Pat Mullin commented at LITA Board that this is very “motherhood and apple pie.” In my own home town, Palo Alto, a “fiber to the home” initiative was ultimately stopped by (among other things) the chilling effect of potential legal challenges. Yet I can tell you that I had Councilors asking me what the heck this issue was about. No one on Council voted against it, but I wish COL had issued this resolution earlier, with a one-page or even half-page backgrounder (or even an email to Council), so the resolution’s vote could be a “teachable moment.” If you have community broadband stories, please do share!

Biometrics. Initially Intellectual Freedom Committee was prepared to put a resolution on Council’s agenda very emphatically opposed to biometrics in libraries. This resolution was in response to two public library systems (Buffalo, NY and Naperville, IL) that are using biometrics for user login on Internet computers. I set aside my personal convictions about intellectual freedom (can I say, “EEK! Fingerprints?!”) to note that the resolution was poorly written and had not been reviewed by either Committee on Legislation or LITA. (This suggests an opportunity for reinvigorating lines of communication between LITA and IFC.) As strongly as I feel about intellectual freedom, I feel even more strongly that resolutions related to technology, particularly technologies new to libraries, need LITA’s input and should go forward with the most technologically correct insights and language possible. Expect opportunities for discussion prior to Midwinter and a hearing in San Antonio. I’d love to get input from LITA folk on this topic.

Reduced division dues for retired ALA members. Remember that item on the ballot about lowering the quorum for ALA membership meetings? Well, it passed, and because it did, membership meetings have had enough people present (75 members based on current membership) to pass resolutions that Council then has to take action on. In this case, members expressed their concern about the need for reduced dues for division members.

Initially I was prepared to vote against this resolution, as other division councilors were insisting that nobody else had business telling the divisions how to do business (“states’ rights,” as one Councilor put it). But after hearing the discussion on the floor, I ultimately agreed that it is reasonable for members to ask divisions to begin to discuss the dues structure for retired members. It is not a mandate—just a request to add this to our fiscal discussion. With a 66,000 member organization largely over 35, how we take care of our retired members will become increasingly significant. We gave the membership a tool to communicate with ALA governance, and we should be glad they are willing to use it to catch our attention on matters important to all of us.

Minor tweak to ALA Strategic Plan. Someone in ALCTS alerted Bruce Johnson, ALCTS Chapter Councilor, that the ALA draft strategic plan mentioned state and federal standards but did not mention international standards. Bruce drafted substitute language, I seconded, and after some discussion, the new language passed. Note that I was able to cite LITA’s Strategic Plan in this discussion. Go LITA!

On other fronts, Council passed resolutions related to workplace speech, “Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender, Identity, or Sexual Orientation” (encouraging state chapters to fight these heinous and hypocritical attacks on library collections), the Iraq War (primarily asking the nation to move its priorities from the Iraq occupation to services such as libraries), disinformation (we voted against it), and immigrants’ rights to free public libraries (particularly important in light of the latest attempts to implement national identify cards). A “Resolution on Equal Access to Resources in Non-Roman Alphabets in Libraries” passed Membership, but was defeated in Council (a resolution on cataloging that doesn’t emanate from ALCTS is doomed to fail). A resolution calling for ALA to establish a formal list of “Endangered Libraries” was referred to BARC (Budget Analysis and Review Committee) for fiscal review, but is not likely to pass when it reemerges. I voted for a resolution calling for ALA to ask U.S. News and World Report magazine to update its rankings of library schools, but as expected the resolution failed. Among our tribute resolutions was one for the “The Hollywood Librarian: Librarians in Cinema and Society,” a forthcoming film by the irrepressible Anne Seidl, who among her many accomplishments is a GIS geek.

I have other reports I would like to process and run by you folks, such as the conclusions of the Committee on Conferences, but I’ll trickle these out over time. I enjoy representing LITA on Council, and encourage your comments, questions, and feedback. Let me know how I can serve you better!