Ok… so I admit it…. the glitz and the glamor (a.k.a. the smokiness, the expense, the heat and the inconvenience) of Las Vegas had me stymied. I did not live blog as I promised however, I was at every council session representing NMRT. I want to say first that it has been my pleasure to serve as your Councilor these past 3 years. Alas, you will have a new councilor representing you but due to my election as Councilor at Large, I will be serving another 3 year term. I look forward to seeing many of my NMRT folks in council and at conferences and wish NMRT well as I “sunset” from being a “new member!” ;-)
Rather than live blogging, let me give some reflections on the conference. Feel free to contact me should you have any questions, comments or concerns.
For me… Las Vegas is not a town for ALA. I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination but quoting one of our NMRT folks, “Las Vegas does not promote our values as an association.” I think everyone should go to Vegas once… and I’ve been and will likely not go again. The heat alone made it miserable for conference goers. Although everywhere seemed air conditioned, the venues were so far apart that you had to travel in the heat a ways to get to your destination. For those of our numbers that have mobility and other challenging issues, it was a nightmare. I know that some really liked the Vegas experience but it seemed there were far more than did not. Despite all of this, the ALA conference itself seemed to be a success. Our final total attendance was 18,626 (attendees and exhibitors). This was higher than the Anaheim attendance but lower than Chicago.
For those that are unfamiliar with ALA, there are a little less than 200 councilors that represent the members of ALA. There are councilors that represent Divisions, Roundtables, Sections, State Chapters, and a good portion that are elected “at large.” For NMRT, I ran on the NMRT ballot voted on only by NMRT members. Prior to that, I had run one other time as an “at large” (voted on the entire membership) and lost by a mere 26 votes! So, my advice would be to keep plugging! Just to let you know… as NMRT councilor and now “at Large”… I do not recieve a stipend or funding to attend the conferences. Some councilors do get funding…
We have 3 Council meetings are Midwinter and Annual with discussions in between via ALA Connect and a listserv. You can imagine with almost 200 councilors that not everyone will agree on the positions that we are asked to take. Debate can be very lively but hopefully not too caustic. The REAL work of the Council (a.k.a where we can discuss openly outside of the business portion of the Council meetings and come up with better wording and compromises) is held at Council Forum. We have 2 of those at night from 8 – 10:30 pm. I must admit I wasn’t able to attend these due to the outrageous cost of a taxi from the strip to the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH). I’m not cheap but $20.00+ per night seemed out of my reach. Enough kvetching!
Here’s the link for more information about Council, governance, etc. http://www.ala.org/aboutala/governance/council Actions taken at the Annual Meeting should be posted soon.
Other than reports and some general housekeeping, the business of the council was pretty staid. The most controversial piece that we discussed was over the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s revamping of the Intellectual Freedom Manual due for publication. In it, “The Committee revised the following Interpretations: “Prisoners’ Right to Read”; “Restricted Access to Library Materials”; “The Universal Right to Free Expression”; “Challenged Materials”; “Expurgation of Library Materials”; “Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program”; “Free Access to Libraries for Minors”; “Minors and Internet Interactivity”; “Diversity in Collection Development”; “Labeling and Rating Systems”; “Exhibit Spaces and Bulletin Boards”; “Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom”; “Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries;” and “Privacy.”” [taken from the action item of Council Document 19.3-19.] Some councilors felt there was not enough time for discussion, especially over the “Labeling and Rating Systems.” The discussion continues on the Council listserv. I won’t bore you with everything but as soon as the documents are up, I’ll alert you if interested in all of the business brought before Council.
All in all, it was a good conference! As I become more involved in ALA governance, I am struck by how wonderful and dedicated my fellow librarians are to the profession that I love. I am honored to serve with them and to know them! I want to thank NMRT for being my “niche” in the big sea of ALA. I cannot encourage you all enough to get involved with NMRT … thanks for letting me “cut my teeth” in ALA by representing you! I could thank everyone by name but I know I would forget someone! Thanks to the Executive Board, both past and present and to Kim Redd for all of the support! You all should also be proud because one of our own, Courtney Young, is this year’s ALA President. Way to go, Courtney! I wish NMRT all the best! Signing off now…
Susan L. Jennings
NMRT Councilor 2011-2014