The academic calendar presents annual events, starting with orientation for new students in August through commencement in May. This week officially marked the end of the semester with the electronic filing of grades. This meant grading pathfinders and tenure/promotion essays from students in the Social Science reference class and LSTA grant applications from students in the Public Libraries class. December also brings deadlines for IMLS grants; this year Dr. Lynn Westbrook and I co-wrote a proposal with the Austin Public Library and Corazon de Tejas Chapter of REFORMA as participating partners. PhD student Tony Cherian and I were also involved in preparing one of the white papers commissioned by IMLS funded "The Future of Librarians in the Workforce" study. My responsibilities to students continue as I start the process of writing reference letters for students seeking new positions, first professional positions, and scholarship applications. Amy Price joins me as my Teaching Assistant, adding to her duties as GRA for "If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything." She and I will soon begin the process of revising the online syllabi for both of my spring classes--Humanities Reference and Library Instruction and Information Literacy. This is the time to confirm deadlines for conference proposals and preparing applications for poster sessions and other juried events.
This is also the time for in-depth preparation for the ALISE annual conference and ALA/Midwinter. This year my ALA/MW preparation brings the unique responsibilities of preparing additional material for the ALA Presidential campaign. For example, it's somewhat a tradition that ALA Presidential candidates make the rounds of board meetings for ALA units. I've sent out requests to Divisions, Round Tables, and ethnic organizations affilitated with ALA whose meetings do not have hard conflicts with my usual ALA commitments. These events bring opportunities to hear unit concerns. For example, today I received a question about my perspectives on the proposed ALA dues increase.
First, let me think back on how I've voted in the past for dues increases. The agenda on my first day on Council at ALA/MW 1997 included a report on a new charge for exhibits-only passes. I voiced my opposition to requiring LIS students to pay for these passes, believing that a first good experience at an ALA conference leads to greater subsequent involvement in the profession. Now, nearly a decade later, Councilors will be discussing a dues increase that will affect all ALA members. ALA.org provides information on this proposal, including a comparison of dues rates for sister-organizations. If approved by ALA Council, ALA membership will vote on the dues increase on the spring ballot.
Where do I stand? I'll vote for a dues increase but match my vote with a request that we look closely at the services that ALA is providing ALA members. ALA is asking more from its members. Is ALA providing its members with more services and with ample means to become involved? Look, for example, at ALA Round Tables. A dues increase means that individuals who service interests are tied most closely to those of the ALA Round Tables are paying more for that priviledge. I suggest that ALA honor this commitment by ensuring that Round Tables have equal opportunities to participate in the democratic process of serving on Council. As things now stand, each of the five Round Tables with the largest memberships can elect a Councilor to represent their interests to ALA Councilor. The other 12 Round Tables share a Councilor. It is unlikely that any one Councilor can represent the combined interests of Round Tables as varied as CLENERT, EMIERT, GLBTRT, IRRT, and LRRT. Furthermore, many Round Tables exceed the ALA memberships of ALA Chapters; Montana with its 147 ALA members has a strong Chapter Councilor, yet membership in each of the Round Table exceeds that of the ALA membership of the entire state of Montana. Students of American History recall the 18th rallying cry in the Colonies of No Taxation without Representation. Round Tables might echo this slogan with "No ALA Dues Increase without Representation."