The Boards of Directors of ACRL and the Public Library Association (PLA) recently submitted a joint letter (PDF) to ALA President Wanda Brown in response to recommendations contained in the ALA Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) Forward Together report (PDF). In the letter, the Boards thank and commend SCOE for its thoughtful work on long-standing and complex issues, agreeing that change is needed in ALA. Additionally, the Boards agree that ALA’s serious financial challenges demand strategic thinking, a willingness to make difficult decisions, and an on-going commitment to transparency as modeled by SCOE.
In response to the Forward Together report’s recommendations on ALA divisions, the Boards feel that more information is needed before membership can make an informed vote on the proposed changes. The description of the review process in SCOE’s recommendations, “This review may include but is not limited to a review of bylaws, dues, and dues structures,” is vague. It is important that conscientious members are fully informed when the SCOE recommendations are placed on the ballot.
While the Boards agree that a review of the ALA Operating Agreement (PDF) related to divisions is needed, the current description of the review process should be clarified and a clear timeline, process, and specific stakeholder group be developed and defined so division members can act knowledgeably on the recommendations. Until we have the ancillary draft documents that show more specifically how the recommendations would be implemented for divisions, as well as a better understanding of ALA’s financial picture, we cannot take a position on SCOE’s recommendations.
The Boards agree with the report recommendation that standardized membership dues across divisions should be explored, coupled with a mechanism for regular dues increases, and encourage SCOE to clarify the process for making changes to division bylaws should the recommendation to eliminate ALA Council be approved.
Complete information on the Boards’ recommendations to SCOE is available in the full text of the letter (PDF). Learn more about, and share your thoughts on, the SCOE recommendations at the 2020 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia and during a webinar on February 13. Complete details on upcoming events are on the Forward Together website.
The ACRL and PLA Boards thank SCOE for its hard work, passion, and vision for a new ALA, and look forward to continuing the conversation.