Come On In, the Water's Fine

I joined the ALA Council at this midwinter meeting after being elected chapter councilor for Wisconsin. I found it to be fascinating, and definitely a venue where I will be able to thrive.

I served for the last few years on the ALSC board with my good friend and colleague Rhonda Puntney Gould, ALSC's division councilor. Ever since she started, she told me that I would love Council. I did feel a little trepidation. But I also know I love process, I love working with passionate people from all kinds of libraries and I think that the work that ALA does is vital to libraries.

The reaction of my peers has been pretty funny. I think it's safe to say that they have stayed in a fairly narrow range - "Poor you." " We appreciate your sacrifice." "Better you than me." Maybe I'm being Pollyanna-ish about this but I am puzzled by the reaction.

Although Council has a reputation as a large body that spins its wheels, it is also a large body that is passionate about libraries and library work in our nation. Over the past few days, we passed a resolution opposing restrictions to materials in Arizona and supporting open inquiry in ethnic and cultural studies. We discussed and passed a resolution opposing discriminatory practices of publishers and distributors which adversely impact access to content (think ebooks, audiobooks no longer available to libraries and DVDs that are not released to the library market until a month after general release); resolutions opposing SOPA/PIPA; and resolutions to restore funding to ensure no-fee public access to government information and opposing the Research Works Act. ALA can bring its considerable weight to bear in a way individual librarians and libraries can't.  There are also working groups, task forces and the Washington office working on lobbying and negotiating in many of these areas.

We have had some great ALSC folks on council over the years but right now we are few and need lots more.  I have long felt that many, many of my ALSC sisters and brothers see service to ALSC - and service on award committees in particular - as the be-all and end-all of their ALA work. While of course worthy,  I believe that leadership in ALSC goes far beyond this. I would love more younger members running for Council and contributing their energy, their commitment to youth and libraries and their fresh eyes to the process of supporting all types of libraries.

Just as service on ALSC O&B or Budget committees or priority group consultancy prepares members for service as a board member, so, too, service on Council is a great learning experience and a true path to leadership. The youth caucus councilors (ALSC, YALSA and AASL) play and work beautifully together and the rest of the councilors are welcoming to the new among their ranks. I will be serving my state on Council for the next three years. The nominating committee is always looking for candidates. Why don't you consider joining me. After all, the water truly is fine!

Image: 'Bali Kuta Beach : May their JOY+Embrace+U!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/32594277@N04

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