Professional Development

Lauren C. at ALA Annual 2011, New Orleans

Thursday, June 30, 2011 12:35 pm

Like Lauren P., most of my hours in New Orleans were spent on responsibilities as an elected representative: Chair of Acquisitions Section (AS) in ALCTS.

I attended 2 programs organized by committees of AS on Saturday morning, had a quick Aramark lunch in the convention center, ran by the Serials Solutions booth to check with Mary Miller about finalizing a contract for the Summon discovery service, then spent the rest of the afternoon in the ALCTS Board meeting. Monday was very similar, right down to the fast Aramark lunch. Sunday was my big day though: I ran the AS Executive Committee meeting, pinch-hit on a panel discussion about print-on-demand after lunch, and that evening, handed a leadership award to Eleanor Cook and a certificate of appreciation to Dr. Knut Dorn.

About a week ago I was asked to substitute for librarians who had to pull out of the panel discussion, so I was prepared, but having never served on a panel outside of my own library, I was really nervous! It helped that there were only about a dozen people who attended. Also Lynn gave me good advice — to think of how calmly and slowly Dr. Ed Wilson speaks — which helped me even more for the awards ceremony, while reading the citation on the certificate for Dr. Dorn! I also announced ALCTS’ decision to rename the award to: HARRASSOWITZ Award for Leadership in Library Acquisitions, In honor of Dr. Knut Dorn, Senior Managing Partner. Dr. Dorn is retiring as the Senior Managing Partner and Director of Sales with HARRASSOWITZ, which has sponsored the award for about 15 years. I still cannot believe how smoothly my day went in spite of having to change location between each major event. I even found the earring I lost that morning in the bottom of my backpack when I got home. Good thing I didn’t throw its mate away!

I feel good about the accomplishments of the Acquisitions Section and the ALCTS division this past year. I’m happy that one particular issue will be seriously addressed in the coming year: I strongly believe that in this era, we should have one conference per year, and that governance shouldn’t be limited just to those who can afford to attend two conferences in person. Finding and implementing solutions is now in the ALCTS strategic plan and the incoming ALCTS President pledged to give her attention to this. The Board approved a strategic plan linked to ALA’s strategic plan. One major initiative of ALA’s plan is Transforming Libraries (see the picture of Lynn and the ACRL Excellence Award at a new portal, http://transforming.ala.org/ ). ALCTS’ linked strategic intitiative is Transforming Collections, with a task force to brainstorm actions. I hope Derrik forgives me that the Board extended the term of the task force, since I got him into that! In addition to strategic planning, my section caught up on getting our web pages updated, put several publications into the pipeline, participated in ALCTS 101, and held 2 well-attended programs and a successful pre-conference on patron-driven-acquisitions of e-books. Once I turn in my section’s annual report, I’ve finished my work on the ALCTS Board, but will still serve a year as Past-Chair for the Acquisitions Section.

Here’s an interesting tidbit I got from Paul Courant, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan, who was the speaker for the ALCTS President’s Program:

Costs of storage:
$4.26 open stacks
$0.86 high density (but not as usable)
$0.22 HathiTrust average

Courant also said that we owe it to students and faculty to do what we do cheaper. He is an economist, and his presentation definitely connected with me, especially with my strong acquisitions focus at this conference. Another point he made that resonated with me is that we should learn to share ownership, going beyond the type of sharing that we’ve typically done via ILL. It made me feel good about our role in ASERL’s journal retention initiative, as a start.

Evolution of an ALA Attendee

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 1:26 pm

My last ALA post was about programs and how I didn’t get to see too many, so this post is about the reason why and it’s the leadership post. (One more post to go!)

One of the neatest things about ALA is that it is a conference for anyone with any interest in libraries or information. There’s something there for everyone. You can go to learn, share, network, contribute to the work of the association, and/or participate in governance.

I started going to ALA because of an interest in the work of the association. I wanted to work on committees and productively contribute to what the organization does. And I really like that work. In fact, I wrapped up service on the LITA Web Coordinating Committee at this conference.

The Emerging Leader program, as well as conversations with people I think of as role models, helped me realize that I wanted to get more into the governance side of things, and that’s what most of this ALA was about for me. For example, first thing on Monday I was in a Council meeting until noon, then after a fast lunch, I was in a LITA Board meeting until 5:00. These are seriously long meetings. And at this conference I clocked about 11 hours of Council and 9 hours of LITA Board meetings in addition toauxiliaryCouncil and LITA activities. I can totally understand that’s not for everyone, but it really is something I enjoy and feel that is a good use of my energy. So here’s the rundown:

ALA Council

ala councilThis was my second conference as a Councilor-at-Large. This means that I do not represent a specific body on Council, but rather the people who voted for me. Since I campaigned on a platform about helping ALA adapt to future expectations, I feel I represent people especially concerned with keeping ALA relevant. This conference was ripe for discussion relevant to the constituency most interested in that platform. We discusses the Future Perfect Task Force, the Task Force on Equitable Access to Electronic Content report as well as a Council Effectiveness Task Force. Despite my shyness, this was my inaugural conference for saying something from the floor and I did it twice! My comments were along these lines:

People speaking against the Future Perfect report (notice the fun name… future perfect is “will have been”) seemed to be focused a lot about how we’ve done things in the past or how our current members might not like what it proposed. I suggested that though these comments might be true, this report might have ideas that would make us more appealing to those who have chosen not to join or those who in the future would not find the current model relevant to them.

My other comment was about communicating out. There was a suggestion in the Council Effectiveness report that suggested councilors communicate more with the membership about who they are and what they find important as well as find ways to listen to their constituency. Again, completely in line with the folks who voted for me based on my video or Twitter activities. Several people were saying they didn’t want to be so public or take the time to make videos and that people knew who they were and how to get in touch with them. I suggested that we hear from people who know how to find us but we don’t hear from the many that just think of ALA as a conference for programming with no idea about who is on council, why, or what we do. This doesn’t mean they don’t care about the issues. I suggested we follow the recommendations so that people can learn more about how council works and what issues we are discussing. Anything you want to know? :)

So my first foray into speaking on the floor was basically two comments on the same theme, but I was compelled to speak to the issue twice since we kept coming to the same place.

ALA Council covered a lot of other ground as well: a resolution supporting a UN Report, a resolution to share all council documents via ALA Connect (the Facebook/Acad1/wiki/discussion list/etc of ALA), and others. I was really disappointed that I had to leave early. My flight was cancelled and the only way to get out on Tuesday was to switch airlines and leave several hours early. On the upside, after this conference I feel much more confident of my role and how to function as a councilor.

LITA Board

My LITA Board terms actually begins today, so I just attended LITA Board meetings as a guest at this conference. The main distinction I picked up was that whereas ALA Council focuses on governance and policy, LITA Board appears to be more about strategy and planning. For example, there is a Treasurer of ALA and a Budget Review Committee, so anything financial that comes before Council has been thoroughly vetted and has little discussion. LITA doesn’t have these bodies, so the Board spent much of its time on topics related to budget and membership. LITA’s been working on a strategic plan since I’ve gotten involved, so in addition we’re seeing the implementation of that now.

I also learned about different roles I’ll have to take on as a board member. I’ll have to give up my seat on a committee (makes sense, it allows for broader participation), but will have to take on liaising to a committee to share information from the Board. I joined a subcommittee of the Board charged with dealing with a few issues specific to the budget as well as how to generate more revenue. So at this point I’m ready to dive in!

I think the LITA work will be a nice thing to have in parallel to Council. In LITA, we’ll see concrete results of actions–and fast–where sometimes the work of Council–though meaningful–doesn’t have the same obvious high-impact to the membership.

If you think you’d like doing any of this type of work, and don’t mind learning a few procedural/cultural ways of having conversations (we use Sturgis, for example), I’d love to talk to anyone who thinks they might want to run for office. ALA tends to propose slates of candidates, but any member can run if they get enough signatures. Those candidates are not distinguished on the ballot from slate candidates, and many times they win!

And it’s not all work. We know how to have fun, too!

ala councilors at work

(cross posted to laurenpressley.com with a few modifications)

Lauren C. at ALA Midwinter San Diego 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 2:44 pm

Hot topics: demand-driven acquisitions -is selection dead?; deselection tool being developed; future of Midwinter conference; “reshaping” ALCTS. The last two topics occupied the majority of my time since this is my year as Chair of ALCTS Acquisitions Section, which makes me a member of the ALCTS Board and requires participation in several long, but interesting, meetings.

Excitement about demand-driven acquisitions (DDA) of e-books is prompting the question of whether or not librarians are needed to make selections. See the Library Journal write up for more details, but briefly, Rick Anderson expressed again that he’s spending his library’s dollars on meeting the needs of the students and faculty according to their choices rather than spending money on librarians’ best guesses when funds are limited. Big budget news broke before I left — California is facing a cut of one billion dollars in higher education spending. In one presentation I saw statistics that showed more dollars are spent on prisons than education in California already.

Regarding deselection, a pre-conference by R2 at Charleston in 2008, (see my post) was the genesis of their idea to develop a tool to streamline a deselection process. At Midwinter I attended a focus group to give R2 feedback on this tool as it is being developed. The idea is to create a record set (viewable as a list) of print copies of books that are low-use within the local library, and then confirm that those items are available in another trusted repository (HathiTrust, for example), thereby giving the library the info to decide about weeding or storage. R2 is ready to sign up a few customers to do some projects and refine their tool, so I will be talking with Lynn about whether this is something that could be useful to us or if it is something that could be done in-house when the need arises.

I heard many expressions of disappointment in the white paper on the future of Midwinter particularly since there was no financial data in it. When Camila Alire, Past President of ALA, visited with the ALCTS Board and asked for feedback, I asked Ms. Alire for a white paper on Annual, since perhaps all the “vibrancy” of Midwinter is indicative of a lack thereof at Annual. The ALA white paper does indicate that there is no requirement by ALA to attend Midwinter (p.7), and the ALCTS bylaws do not require it, although the expectation is there at the Chair/Board level in ALCTS. At the committee level within sections, several groups throughout the ALCTS Division have made the shift to conduct all work without any face-to-face meetings, so the ALCTS Board brainstormed some ways for leaders to only need to attend Annual. The topic will be explored more. The ALCTS Board also discussed whether or not to restructure (or reshape) the organization based on the report of the task force that analyzed results of an earlier survey to the membership, but no conclusion has been reached yet. The continuation of strategic planning, which the Board and relative committees will engage in via email in the next month, may better inform a decision.

I did manage to squeeze in two chats with vendors: I talked with representative Linda Russo at Latin American Book Store about reviewing our firm ordering history for both Spanish Peninsula titles and Latin American Literature for the past year to see if she can identify a pattern for creating a small auto-shipment plan. Our Spanish faculty and I keep hoping to do this, if we can define narrow enough parameters to stay in budget and still have money for some one-by-one selection. I also talked with EBL about our interest in print-on-demand (POD) and how I’d like to be able to do POD with with our EBL purchases if we should get the equipment at WFU. (Keep your fingers crossed for funding!) David Swords of EBL explained that EBL is interested, but cautioned me that it will take time (more than I’d like) because it requires agreements with publishers.


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