Adding updates as they come and I get time…
I know there are a lot of questions about what happened at the third meeting of Council on Tuesday. I can’t answer all of those questions and I don’t think it is my place to try. But I do serve a constituency, I’m hearing a lot, and I’m receiving a lot of questions and emails. I can tell you what I know and what is being done (so far).
Here are the events as I saw them:
Update: Before all this went down, there were several reports of aggression towards WOC on the floor of exhibits especially over ARCs. I avoid the book exhibits like the plague because of the crowds, so I didn’t witness this. But those stories have a lot of specifics. I’ve been yelled at over there when I accidentally entered an autograph line. Nope. Not going back.
Council on Sunday and Monday: There was a lot of chattering about mistakes with Robert’s Rules because a) IT IS CONFUSING, b) ALA has a lot of staff in new roles and a new President, and c) people in general need to learn patience. A chapter councilor asked a question that wasn’t quite appropriate in the moment and was dealt with a bit harshly by the person who will later resign (harshly IN MY OPINION). This situation was implied to be related to what happened at forum.
Council forum III: Held on Monday at 4pm. This is when the incident happened. I was not there because I had a separate meeting that I needed to attend. Council forum is supposed to be a place to discuss Council issues free of RONR. In my year and a half on council, I’ve also honestly felt that forum has become a slight free-for-all without skilled facilitators at every one. I just haven’t seen them to be a good use of my time and I am not the only one.
Update: The notes from Forum III do not indicate that the incident happened. It just outlines what was discussed. Councilors received these the next day after we had started the agenda (Tuesday).
Monday evening: All councilors received an email from a councilor saying that he was resigning effective immediately. I suddenly received texts from friends asking me what happened because April tweeted about an incident. I read through the tweets to the best of my ability, but I was still confused about the order of events or if the email was even related.
Council III on Tuesday morning: ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo was obviously upset and delivered a short speech that something had happened and a code of conduct violation was reported. ALA Councilor At-Large Tyler Dzuba suggested that we divide into small groups and discuss issues of racialized aggression and white privilege at conference. This was interpreted as small group discussions about the specifics of the incident. The arguments came from different sides:
- Will we just be perpetuating rumors? That wasn’t really the point.
- Will people of color feel comfortable with a small group if they are the only POC in the group? Fair point.
- Is this an issue of professionalism? Not the point. It was felt as racialized aggression therefore that needed to be addressed.
- Is the issue more complex? Again, not really the point.
- Should we wait until the Code of Conduct investigation is over? Again, not really the point.
The discussion of this went back and forth and was confusing to follow at times because of procedural confusion. Ultimately I voted (I thought) to do the small groups and later to continue the larger group discussion. But I can’t be sure because of the previously mentioned issues with the way RONR was being used. To be honest I looked over at April to see how she was voting because I wanted to know what she wished in that moment but things were moving quickly.
Instead of having discussion, ALA council continued on with its agenda. Was that the best move? I honestly don’t know. Without proper facilitation, I don’t know that small groups would have worked and I didn’t want those groups to treat the POC in them as token. I believe we should have suspended the rules and allowed for a more open conversation of the body, but I again don’t know if that would have worked. Tyler led a sub-group discussion at the end and some suggestions came out of that. You can read those on his listserv post. We are currently having a broader discussion on the listserv. I think we can learn from this experience, but we have to be willing to educate ourselves and to exhibit patience and humility at our failings. This thread is a great point for learning more and maybe all councilors should be required to do some training or group readings/discussion. Ultimately, I believe the fault is with a council that as a body tends to be hostile to outside voices that don’t follow archaic rules, but hey, I just started here.
Yesterday April posted her blog post that described in more detail the situation. That is the only first hand experience that I have heard. ALA needs to respond to her experience and fast. (Update: This is the response from the ALA Executive Board, the governing sub-body of Council). She shouldn’t have been treated that way. And to be honest, April has been one of the few consistently open and friendly people on Council to newbies like myself. That body is cliquish and even at times hostile to newcomers. Ultimately, I believe her. And even if the situation is nuanced, she felt threatened. No one attending a conference should feel threatened ever. End of story.
Update: President Loida Garcia-Febo’s most recent message: Last Tuesday during our Board meeting I asked Paul Groller from conference services to share information about the reports on violation of code of conduct received. He is going to do this by next week. ALA will continue this practice. We are going to have an online space this February for Councilors to speak about these incidents, share resources. That is a general description and I will have more including date/time in the next days. For annual conference, we will have sessions for all members, and we will have a session at Council I. There will be more information about this– and other efforts I have been working on with my Diversity Advisory Team related to EDI which is part of my efforts for this year, very soon.
Sorry for the delay on posting this. Apparently I had forgotten how busy September can be when I decided to attend IFLA. My email is a manageable level and I noticed this one about the draft Meeting Room Interpretation. If you haven’t seen already, we are in the comment period. You have until September 14 to comment. The information is below from Julia Warga, Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. This is your chance to contribute!
The Intellectual Freedom Committee would appreciate feedback from the library community on this draft. ALA members and non-members alike are invited to provide feedback on the draft interpretation by September 14, 2018. Feedback can be posted in the following two ways:
Use this Google doc to post your comments. The working group requests that you ONLY post comments on this document, and not edit the document directly. To post a comment, select “Insert” in the top menu, and then click “Comment.” Comments may be posted anonymously (if you’re not signed into a Google account) or publicly (if you’re signed into your Google account).
Post suggestions to this ALA Connect post, either as a comment or by attaching a “track changes” version of the provided Word document.
Please share this document widely. After the deadline, the working group will review comments and revise the document further. It plans to submit the draft to ALA Council no later than October 1, 2018. The committee also plans to publish a Q&A on meeting rooms, addressing specific questions brought up in discussions and feedback from the library community; this Q&A will be drafted after October 1.
Below are resources and references that will be included at the bottom of the web version of the Council-approved interpretation. Although this section — titled “See Also” — is not part of the proposed interpretation and is not adopted by ALA Council, the working group invites suggestions on additional resources that readers may find helpful:
For a statement of the Association’s belief that libraries should be welcoming places for users and workers: “Resolution on Libraries as Responsible Spaces,” Committee on Diversity, June 2017.
For legal and ethical context concerning the use of library spaces by religious groups: “Religion in American Libraries: Question and Answers,” Intellectual Freedom Committee, 2010.
For guidelines and context concerning controversial speakers: “Responding to and Preparing for Controversial Program and Speakers Q&A,” Intellectual Freedom Committee, June 2018.
For legal context on hate speech, hate crimes, and libraries: “Hate Speech and Hate Crime,” ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, December 2017.
For information about political activity in libraries: “Politics in American Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted June 27, 2017, by the ALA Council.
The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee has created a working group to revisit the language in the Meeting Rooms interpretation because of concern from the library community. You can provide feedback to the group.
The deadline for comments is August 24. The working group plans to distribute a draft of the revised interpretation to the library community at large shortly after Labor Day for additional feedback, with the goal to present ALA Council a final draft for consideration by October 1.
This is the most recent info on the Councilor list about the Meeting Rooms interpretation. There is currently an effort to rescind the interpretation. They are asking for comments by 7/19/2018. It is still unclear how this fits with the IFC working group and if it will fly under parliamentary procedure. More to come.
Attached please find a draft resolution ( in Google Doc [ https://goo.gl/Mp8vEM]) to rescind the meeting rooms interpretation.
We, the signers, would like to receive feedback on the language of the resolution and additional seconders. Please let us know by 11:59pm PDT, Thursday, 5/19/2018.
Well, never is a strong world … Just kidding.
I finished my first year as the NC Chapter Councilor and I have the duty and privilege to report on the activities of Council at conference. In the interest of making this more accessible, I’ve uploaded it to Google Drive and you are free to read and even comment (keep it nice, or not). I’m happy to take feedback or hear your concerns. Just email or comment.
The biggest issue coming out of annual was the controversy over the use of the term “hate group” in the Library Bill of Rights Meeting Rooms interpretation. You can read more about this in the the google doc if you missed the debate. The Office of Intellectual Freedom has issued a statement providing some context. Yes, as NC Councilor I voted for the interpretation. And yes, I read the interpretation before I voted on it. My opinion is available on Twitter if you are interested.
As a result of the debate, the Intellectual Freedom Committee is revisiting the document. They have formed a working group as of Saturday, July 14 and will develop a timeline and plan of action. There is also a movement to rescind or amend the interpretation virtually but that has hit a parliamentary procedural roadblock (RONR is pesky beast). More to come this week we are told. I’ll post updates under this link: https://lyndamkreads.wordpress.com/tag/meeting-rooms/
I’m just happy people are reading ALA documents and engaging with the organization to be honest. (P.S. This is me being light-hearted to some extent. But seriously, considering our voter turnout, I am happy to see people engaging with the big ALA even if it is to criticize. Just wish more would vote. If you don’t like things, come fix them.)
Several other things came out of Council’s meeting including a good discussion of ALA’s future and the creation of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table. We also passed four resolutions that might be of interest. The summary and the full-text link of these is in the google doc.
- A Resolution Recognizing the 25th Anniversary of the GPO Access Act and Calling for the Enactment of the FDLP Modernization Act
- A Resolution to Reunite Detained Migrant Children with their Parents
- A Resolution to Honor African Americans Who Fought Library Segregation
- A Resolution on Gender Inclusive Bathrooms at ALA Conferences and Meetings
And finally we celebrated Lois Ann Gregory-Wood who retired as the ALA Secretariat after almost 30 years of work. We will certainly miss her!
My first day on Council was awesome! The proceedings went by quickly, which is unusual apparently. We had a few items of interest, however, and much more will be discussed today at Council II.
- We approved a new ALA award for mid-career professionals called the Lois Ann Gregory-Wood Fellows Program. The award is named after Lois Ann, the ALA Council Secretariat and honors her 50 years of service at ALA. The awards will provide funding for mid-career professionals who want to be involved in ALA governance, but who do not have institutional funding. More information is forthcoming on applying and donating! I will post information as I have it.
- The Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden was approved to be given honorary ALA membership. We were all happy about that one!
- The ALA Membership Committee brought forward a resolution to adjust dues with the CPI. The resolution passed and will go before the membership on the spring 2018 ballot. Another good reason to VOTE this spring!
- The ALA Executive Director Mary W. Ghikas gave figures for the Midwinter conference attendance. As of February 10, registration was 7,894, a decrease from 8,892 last year. This is certainly an ongoing issue for Midwinter, and an issue that we will discuss at Council II today!
If you have questions or concerns for ALA, please feel free to contact me! I hope to represent NC’s interests as fully as possible, but I’d love to do that with feedback from NC librarians.