Serving on ALA Council as the division representative for AASL is an honor, and I am grateful I was able to represent AASL and its members in Seattle. There were many resolutions that came to council to be voted on. Some seem routine like the continual updating of the Library Bill of Rights, yet each resolution brings new insights and viewpoints that can have transformative action on divisions, committees, and individual institutions.
Below I highlight a small number of the resolutions and actions that were reviewed and approved by council during the Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. You can read a comprehensive wrap-up of the successful meeting in Seattle at https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2019/02/05/2019-midwinter-wrap-up.
The council passed a resolution that proposed changes to the language in ALA Policy B.8.10; the proposed language makes the policy more inclusive and uses person-first terminology (CD#14). While passing resolutions like this may seem boring or unimportant, there are important differences that reflect the current language used and the current views of our patrons; for instance the original language noted “poor people,” whereas the new language states, “The American Library Association promotes equal access to information for all persons and recognizes the need to respond to people experiencing poverty, which include people experiencing homelessness, in the United States.” The inclusion of statements like the following help make the resolution even more relevant:
“Concrete programs of training and development are needed to prepare library staff to identify needs and deliver relevant services to people experiencing poverty. In addition, the American Library Association (divisions, offices, and units) should be strengthened to support low-income neighborhoods and people experiencing poverty through programs, services, and resources.”
“#14 Acknowledging the disproportionate rate at which poverty affects underserved populations, including but not limited to women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, non-Native English speakers, formerly incarcerated people, and people with disabilities.”
The council also passed a resolution on sustainability as a core value of librarianship (CD#37). Key language includes “ALA on behalf of its members: 1. Shall define sustainability using the ‘triple bottom line’ conceptual framework: ‘To be truly sustainable, an organization or community must embody practices that are environmentally sound AND economically feasible AND socially equitable.'” What does this mean for school libraries? As division councilor, I feel bringing this back to our division provides us the impetus to begin evaluating sustainability issues in relation to school libraries. Since sustainability is now a core value of librarianship, it is a concept that will continue to rise in importance.
The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity award has been changed to the Penguin Random House Library Award for Innovation through Adversity (CD#31) due to new sponsorship. Read about past recipients of this award and you will see how exciting recognizing librarians can be.
The resolution to eliminate monetary fines as a form of social inequity (CD#38) passed. This resolution had considerable debate because some councilors worried that adding the statement below could cause difficulties at the local level for libraries that count on lost and/or late fines as a budgetary source.
“The American Library Association asserts that imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services….[ALA] urges libraries to scrutinize their practices of imposing fines on library patrons and actively move towards eliminating them; and urges governing bodies of libraries to strengthen funding support for libraries so they are not dependent on monetary fines as a necessary source of revenue.”
A task force has been appointed to explore this issue further, and the AASL President has appointed AASL representation.
The third ALA Council meeting began with a discussion of a Code of Conduct complaint against a councilor. The complaint is being investigated by ALA’s conference services through its process for investigating violations.
Other resolutions included supporting civil rights protections for people of diverse gender identities, copyright in regards to ethics, privacy and confidentiality for library users, prisoners’ rights to read, meeting room language, Public Domain Day recognition, and celebrating the passage of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (CD#20.4).
Reports are also considered by council. A report from ALA Treasurer Susan H. Hildreth on the association’s programmatic priorities (CD#13.1) was presented to the council. The treasurer’s findings on ALA’s programmatic priorities will become the basis for developing the FY20 budget. An update on the remodel of ALA’s Annual Conference and the evolution of the Midwinter Meeting (CD#39) was shared. There will be considerable changes in the Midwinter Meeting, but it was affirming to see the important recognition of the Youth Media Awards and their committee work. A report from the ALA Executive Director Search Committee (CD#34) was shared.
During Midwinter and Annual memorials are read. I seconded the resolution for Merlyn Miller, who I served with on AASL’s Affiliate Assembly previously. If you as a member of AASL want to submit information for an AASL member to be memorialized at ALA Annual, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am excited to share additional information with any member of AASL who wants further details or explanation of any of the resolutions mentioned above. As voting has opened for ALA, remember that school library representation is vital on ALA Council so make sure to complete your voting ballot. Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your representative on council.
Author: Diane Chen
AASL Representative to ALA Council