Ok, not really. At least, I don’t think so. Based on how many people I talked with at MidWinter who didn’t know about the election process or what Executive Board does it might be. Several people contacted me and asked me to elaborate on the Executive Board process and experience I mentioned in my MidWinter reflections post. It does seem odd to me that there isn’t more information out there about the process, especially from former candidates. No one said I couldn’t talk about it and since I have been very transparent over the years about most, if not all, of my professional endeavors I thought I would share what I know and reflect on the experience. And use this as an opportunity to encourage you to become (more) involved!
What executive board (and ALA and Council) does and why it matters or Why You Should Pay Dues and VOTE!
First some background on Executive Board and where it fits in ALA:
The ALA president
is the “chief administrative officer and legal head of the organization.” While many of the roles of an administrative leader are delegated or shared in policy (and practice) to the ALA executive director, some key roles have clearly and consistently been performed fully or in part by the president: representing and speaking for ALA to other organizations and to the public, presiding at Board and Council meetings, appointing committees.(pdf of the full description)
The ALA president is elected by all voting ALA members.
acts for Council in the administration of established policies and programs and is the body that manages within this context the affairs of the Association, delegating management of day-to-day operation to the Association’s executive director. The Executive Board makes recommendations with respect to policy and operation.
The Executive Board is elected by Council.
is the governing body of ALA. It delegates to the divisions of the Association authority to plan and carry out programs and activities with policy established by Council.
Council is elected by voting ALA members. Broken down:
- 100 councilors at large who are elected by the Association membership
- Each division of the Association is entitled to one councilor to be elected by members of the divisions
- Each state, provincial, and territorial chapter is entitled to one councilor to be elected by members of the chapter
- Round tables with personal membership equal to or greater than one percent of ALA’s total personal membership shall be entitled to elect one councilor each, and the remaining roundtables jointly shall be entitled to one councilor to be elected for a term of three years by the members of the respective round tables
Why you should pay dues and vote:
To the world ALA represents libraries. Not me or this blog or other bloggers no matter how often we’re quoted by traditional media outlets or how many invitations we receive to prestigious events. When the publishing industry decided they were ready to talk to “libraries” they agreed to talk to ALA President Molly Raphael and other ALA representatives. Yes, I am aware of side conversations happening all over the place. But when it came time for the official conversation it was set up through official channels. (I can already hear some of you grumbling!).
So look around ALA, look at who is representing you on committees, round tables, and interest groups, in your divisions, on task forces, on Council, on Executive Board, and as President. Do their views align with your views? Are they representing your interests? If the answer is yes – sweet! Keep doing what you’re doing. If the answer is no, it is time to take action. Pay your dues, vote, get involved.
I have to quote Abby the Librarian’s post – ALA is not your mom
ALA is an organization made up of US. It’s not some magical entity floating around to solve all librarians’ problems. ALA is what we make of it.
You know what is absolutely NOT helpful? People complaining about something and not doing anything to change it. ALA is what you make of it. If you don’t like it, get involved and change it.
Sing it sister! I’ve quoted Abby before when I talked about why I decided to run for Council. I pay my dues, I vote, I get involved, I run because at the end of the day I want to say I contributed more than I criticized. If you don’t like something you have to work to change it. And complaining and criticizing isn’t “working to change it.” Criticism and complaining are easy. Don’t believe me? Just look around, there wouldn’t be that many people doing it if it were hard. Getting involved, giving time and energy, that’s work. Don’t get me wrong; I am NOT saying don’t criticize ALA, goodness knows there are areas that need it, but criticize, then take action (hint: tweeting your gripes is not action).
About running for Executive Board:
So back to my experience running for Executive Board. Here is the Official Job Description (pdf) if you’re interested.
The ALA Executive Board consists of the president, president-elect, immediate past president, treasurer, executive director, and eight members elected by Council from its membership for three-year terms.
The Executive Board acts for Council in the administration of established policies and programs and is the body that manages within this context the affairs of the Association, delegating management of day-to-day operation to the Association’s executive director.
The Executive Board makes recommendations with respect to policy and operation.
You must be nominated to run for the executive board. The process works like this: for each seat coming open two candidates are nominated by the Committee on Committees. So if there are 2 seats 4 people get nominated, if there are 3 seats 6 people get nominated. Once nominated you receive an email from the ever amazing Lois Ann Gregory-Wood informing you of the nomination, detailing the requirements and asking you if you accept. Once you’ve accepted, you are asked to provide background info, education, ALA experience, library honors that sort of thing. Each candidate’s info is put on a one-page handout which is given to Councilors at the beginning of Council II. Once all candidates have accepted the nomination their information is sent to the Council listserv. Additionally, during Council I at MidWinter candidates can be nominated from the floor. If the nominee accepts s/he is added to the list of candidates. During Council II, each candidate may give a speech lasting up to 5 minutes. Once the speeches are done, if there is time, Councilors may ask questions from the Council floor on any issue or topic. Questions may be directed to all candidates or specific candidates. Voting commences immediately following the one-hour session. Votes are tallied later that nights and all candidates are informed of the results. (I was not selected to serve on Executive Board)
Hopefully, this has contributed to your understanding of the structure and process, please feel free to ask questions!