2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits – Presidential and Treasurer Candidates’ Forum

2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits – Presidential and Treasurer Candidates’ Forum


Welcome to the 2019 ALA Midwinter
Presidential and Treasurer Candidates’ Forum. My name is Jim Neal. I am the ALA
Immediate Past President, and I will be moderating this forum. Also with me on
the platform is Eli ALA’s parliamentarian who will serve as
our official timekeeper. For the forum today, we have asked each candidate to
give a five-minute presentation which will be timed by our parliamentarian.
After the candidates have given their presentation, the floor will be open for
questions from you, the audience. We will ask audience members to
specify whether their question is directed to either the presidential or
treasurer candidates or to both groups of candidates. All respective candidates
will be given two minutes to respond to each question. The forum will end with
each candidate presenting a two-minute statement or summary. The forum is being
videotaped and will be posted to YouTube as soon as possible after the Midwinter
Conference It is now my pleasure to introduce to you the presidential and
treasurer candidates for the 2019 election. The presidential candidates are
Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. and Lance M. Werner. The treasurer… please The Treasurer candidates are Andrew K.
Pace and Maggie Farrell. I will now ask Presidential candidate Julius C.
Jefferson, Jr. to present his opening statement. Julius. Thank you, Jim and thank
you to the nominating committee for the opportunity to stand as a candidate for
President-elect of the American Library Association. Libraries are not just
places where we work but are the sentinels of our democracy,
a place where lives are impacted and the ideals of our country are upheld. I’m
reminded of this sentiment every day when I entered the James Madison
building of the Library of Congress, where I see the following inspiring
quote inscribed, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and the people who mean
to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which
knowledge gives.” These are the words of James Madison, the father of our
constitution. I add that libraries or librarians and library workers are the
keys that provide access to power. In an age when ignorance attempts to trump
knowledge, it is an exciting time to be a member of the American Library
Association. ALA can and will play an important role at this critical juncture
in a history of our association and our country. To maximize our impact, our
association must stand united and speak with one voice to advocate for the
education for an informed citizenry, to promote freedom of expression and
privacy, to overcome the constant threat of reduced funding for essential library
programs, and to support information policies that seek to unite our country
rather than policies that divide the communities that we serve, such as Net
Neutrality. As your ALA President, my focus will be on improving the ALA brand
by highlighting the most valued asset, which is you,
the 58,000 committed members of the American Library Association. To be
effective advocates we must change the narrative of who we are. Librarians and
library workers, ALA members that represent the brand, are and need to be
recognized as a diverse workforce that as technologically savvy, inclusive,
innovative, and passionate about serving our communities. Our brand must reflect
our commitment to providing equitable access to information, serving as
cornerstones in our respective communities. We must strengthen
relationships within our complex organizational structure, thereby
rebuilding our brand. We must address and solve critical issues that affect our
sustained future as we focus on advocating for our core values by
collaborating and communicating across the Association, and removing existing
silos that create divisive walls. We are stronger when we speak with one voice. As
your ALA President, I will strive to strengthen relationships with key
library advocates by building on the grass roots approach utilizing a
national network of advocates. I will strive to strengthen equity, diversity,
and inclusion not just in our Association, but in the libraries where
we work, build a culture of inclusion within our association by
strengthening relationships between ALA, Divisions, Roundtables, Affiliates so that
all our members can find a home amongst our ranks, build and strengthen
relationships with our ALA Chapters by creating a communication plan that
allows chapter leaders and ALA staff to work together, continue to advocate for
our school librarians and those who offer specialized services to children
and young adults by highlighting the valuable role they have in developing
the foundation for critical thought and intellectual curiosity. And finally,
recruit the next generation of library workers by introducing and exposing K – 12 students to the possibilities of a career in librarianship. I stand
prepared to serve the members of ALA providing leadership for a modern
library association, and I ask for your vote for ALA President. Thank you. Thank
you, Julius. Presidential candidate Lance M. Werner will now present his opening
statement. Lance. Well, thank you so much, and it is
fantastic to be here today. Welcome everyone. I hope you’re having a great
conference. I know I am. I’ve really enjoyed speaking with everybody and
getting to know what their concerns are and where they’re coming from. I’m so
honored to be with you here today and to be considered as a candidate for the
presidency of the American Library Association. I want to tell you a little
bit about what I bring to the table. I’m a second-generation librarian. My mother
was a school librarian. I have my masters in Library and Information Science and a
Juris Doctorate Degree. I’m also the director of the Kent District Library in
Western Michigan. I’m an attorney. Please don’t judge me. I was formerly a
registered lobbyist and an administrative law judge. I recently completed a
fellowship with the Michigan Political Leadership Program, and I’ve had the good
fortune of traveling around the country and teaching people about advocacy,
specifically relationship-based informal advocacy. Okay, I’m happy to tell you that
you all have been advocating your entire lives and you’re experts. I think it’s
important to state that whenever I get a chance to stand behind a microphone. I’m
the Past President of the Michigan Library Association, a former chair of
its legislative committee. When I was there, we hired a new director and her
name was Gail Madziar. I worked with Gail to help her become the most successful
director of the Michigan Library Association. She accomplished more
legislatively than all of her predecessors. I have the experience on
dealing with new directors and in a positive way. I’ve had the good
fortune of wearing a lot of hats in a lot of different types of libraries.
I’ve worked in public libraries. I’ve worked in special libraries, and I’ve
worked in academic libraries, Challenges faced by these types of libraries are
not abstract to me. I bring this background. I know what it’s like
to walk in your shoes and it will inform my decision-making process.
Being an attorney has been extremely helpful, as you might imagine, in my
legislative and advocacy efforts. I was successful in working with the Kent County
Tea Party to gain support and assistance with our KDL millage campaign. We won a
45% increase by the widest margin ever. This is all based on relationship-based
advocacy. I’ve advocated and have testified in support of bills designed
to protect libraries from losing budgetary money to tax capture in
Michigan, resulting in an eight million dollar windfall for Michigan’s public
libraries. This bill package had been sought for 20 years by all of Michigan’s taxing
entities and the association’s that represent them, and MLA got it done with relationship-based advocacy. I’m currently a member of the
ALA Policy Corps, representing libraries in DC as an advocate. And in order for us, as libraries, to remain relevant in this fast-paced world, we must be alert, agile,
and move quickly. And that’s how I roll. The role of leadership is
to lead in a selfless, constructive way. I’m a servant leader. My role is to build
the people up around me and to facilitate their greatness, because their
greatness is our greatness. We all have the power to make ALA stronger than
ever, and now, my friends, is the time to turn up the music and dance. as your ALA
President, I’ll be focused on a choreography for two basic steps. Step
one is to make sure that member voices are heard and acted upon in. Step two is
to leverage their greatest assets, and that is kindness
empathy and love. These characteristics are the core of what we do and do well.
They uniquely position us for strategic partnership in advocacy efforts and this
is precisely what ALA can do on a national and international level. I
firmly believe that the presidency is certainly not about the president. It’s
about setting the stage for the new director and the Association to be
wildly successful. Now is the time to turn up the music and dance, and as
president of ALA, I will implement this shoe on the dance floor strategy. I’m
ready to do the hard work and take the lead, and inspire others do the same. I
will accomplish this by leveraging my considerable advocacy background and
experience, and help with ALA training to to help people employ more informal
advocacy techniques for inclusion, for inclusion for themselves and their
profession, and also by engaging stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to
gain guidance. That’s how ALA can more effectively promote equity, diversity and inclusion and
provide better services to diverse provide better service to its communities. I think it’s critical that
we seek input from ALA members to explore answers to tough questions about
the future of libraries. Vhange can only happen if we are willing to change and
take charge. And as ALA President I will focus on this for the benefit of
libraries everywhere. Now’s the time to turn up the music and dance, and thank
you for coming today, and I appreciate your support for my
candidacy. I now call upon Treasurer candidate Andrew K. Pace to
present his opening statement. Andrew. Thank you, esteemed colleagues. I can’t
imagine a more exciting time in the association’s history to stand before
you as a candidate for ALA Treasurer. I want to thank the nominating committee,
the organizers of this event, and my worthy opponent Maggie Farrell. All of
you can look at my record of education and professional experience. Most of you
should know me for my steadfast dedication to the governance of this
association. More still know my devotion to libraries, to our profession, and to
those we serve in our profession. Attention to finances is often an
anathema at worst or a burden of doing business at best. Lucky for all of you,
I’m a library-loving policy wonk who also loves spreadsheets. Yes, ALA’s
Treasurer does all the things you might expect, but I’ve learned as a member of
the Executive Board and the Finance and Audit Committee that there’s more to the
job than just trying to balance the budget and keeping a watchful eye on the
balance sheet. Of course I will dedicate myself to ALA’s financial success, but
as an elected leader being treasurer means making sure that ALA invests its
assets in alignment with its key priorities: advocacy, information policy,
professional and leadership development, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. I
will do this by stressing the same three principles used as a former Division
President, as an ALA counselor, and as Executive Board member.
Transparency, trust, and transformation. First transparency. Previous Treasurers
have taken huge strides in making the financial workings of the organization
more understandable. From annual budgets and long-term balance sheets to
indirect cost rates and annual estimates of income. Your next Treasurer will
oversee the transition from an investment deficit budget to an even
more sustainable financial model that balances the budget while investing in
the Association and the profession. My strong relationship with Divisions,
Chapters, Roundtables, Committees and Affiliates, as well as my working
knowledge of Council and the Executive Board, will make ALA’s finances and
strategic directions even more accessible and transparent to the ALA
membership. From me, members can always expect an open mind, direct communication,
and candor, a reputation already firmly held. Second trust. My career and
volunteer experience have afforded me more financial experience than the
average librarian. Throughout my career, I’ve endeavoured to further business
thinking and financial acumen in our profession. As a former Endowment Trustee
and CFO of a large nonprofit once said to me, “Just because we’re not-for-profit,
doesn’t mean we’re for loss on the job.” I’ve gained skill the skills necessary
to manage revenue budgets as high as thirty million dollars. As a LITA
member, and as its former President, I consulted with the LITA Board in
2015 regarding their financial future, creating their first Budget Review
Committee and even urging LITA to consider a merger with other Divisions. I
was also an advisor and founding member of ALA’s 1876 Club launch by the
Development Office in 2017. At home I’m a member of my church’s 40-year-old
foundation, managing one time in long- term giving as a foundation Trustee. I
also believe that trust is both earned and discovered by devoting oneself to
creating a more inclusive environment, both at our places of work and with and
within the Association. ALA has big strides left to make, and I’m committed
to viewing our initiatives and ALA’s finances through the required lens of
EDI and social justice. Finally, transformation. You’ve heard our
Executive Director and others, our Treasurer, talk about ALA streams of
change. ALA membership, communications,
governance, finances, IT infrastructure, staff workspaces, and conferences are in
the state of major transformation, and a year from now the Executive Board will
introduce you to a new Executive Director. I’ve been a key player in the
major strategic discussions and the financial impact that comes
with them. I have worked closely with the current ALA Treasurer, three BARC chairs,
and daily finance staff to ensure that budgets and investments are aligned with
organizational strategy and aren’t simply numbers on a page. And as a member
of the Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness, at SCOE,
I’ve been a pragmatic voice for change. ALA faces an interesting paradox. On the
one hand, ALA has suffered budget deficits in the wake of financial crisis
de-professionalization from outside forces, and an organizational and member
engagement structure that is rooted in 19th and 20th century governance models.
On the other hand, ALA’s outstanding balance sheet reflects both the value
libraries bring society and the profession and a devoted membership that
embraces 21st century-focused direction and dedication. I honestly believe that
ALA can successfully leverage its balance sheet to make investments in
Divisions, the Development Office, and information technology and in advocacy,
the heart, body, and soul of this association, to ensure not only its
short-term relevance but also its long-term viability. I will bring the
right mixture of prudence and prospecting. The right combination of
experience and expedience. I will lead ALA’s embrace of a transparent realism
in its financial planning and reporting that supports our shared commitment to
libraries, library workers, and the future of the association, while never
compromising our core values. Transparency, trust, transformation. Thank
you for your attention. I call upon Treasurer candidate Maggie
Farrell to present her opening statement. Maggie. Thank you, Jim.
And thank you to all of you for attending this afternoon. This is such a
great afternoon. The weather is warm, the sun is out during a fabulous
conference. So, I realized that you have choices and appreciate your interest in
the leadership of ALA. And I want to say hello to our members who may be viewing
this recording following the conference. Where do we start in talking about the
issues facing our American Library Association and by extension our
profession. As librarians, we seem to face continual funding problems, the notion of
irrelevancy in an Internet world, overflow of communication, lack of
diversity in our profession, and high expectations by our patrons. As well, we
have high expectations by our members. And while I believe that ALA is the
premier library association, offering relevant professional development,
networking, advocacy, not only for our members, but we support all librarians,
all library workers. All libraries, our members and potential members, have a
variety of options before them for professional development, engagement with
colleagues, and advocacy. So our challenge is not just to meet the needs of our
current members but also to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of a broader
community, and to separate our association in providing services and
advocacy that is distinguished or unique from other associations or opportunities
that broadens our membership. I believe the power of ALA is our advocacy and our
voice on legislative and policy issues, our leadership in education of the
profession, including continuing education and professional development.
Our power is our ability to increase diversity in librarianship. Our
value ,our power, is our value of equitable services and social justice. In
these areas we can have a significant impact for our communities. But to do so,
we need an organization that fits our current society and how we work and
communicate. We need a financial structure that supports our work and
conferences structures and membership structures that are inclusive and
efficient. We need pathways for leadership and personal development so
that every member has a focus, so that a development for every member and a focus
on diversifying librarianship. These are high goals for ALA, and it’s challenging
to reimagine our current practices into a new model. But we see this
transformation occurring in our very own libraries, as we reinvent and adapt to
the changing expectations of our patrons. I am confident that as the smart,
creative, energized, optimistic librarians that we are, we can and will recast the
structures of our association. So what do we need to focus on as an association? Of
critical concern is the diversity of our profession, librarians and library
workers. As a librarian at the most diverse university, a majority-minority
HSI university, it is a personal as well as a professional commitment. As
Treasurer, I would personally continue to support the financial support of our EDI
initiatives. One of the streams of changes we have been discussing is
examining the membership structure. Our structure is such that we actually may
be preventing some librarians from joining in creating barriers from
membership. As Treasurer, I would not only support this examination but would be
working on the financial assessment for potential members. As you know, dues only
make up 16% of our revenue, so changes are material, necessary and we
know the potential impacts. As Treasurer, I would contribute to this conversation
with strong expertise in organizational and financial management. I have been the
Dean at three large universities. I have also served on the ACRL Board, as an ALA councilor, and currently on the Budget Analysis and Review Committee and
am chair of BARC. Complementing my financial expertise are my leadership
skills of openness, transparency, and clarity.
Thank you for consideration of my candidacy. I want to thank you again for
coming. I ask for your vote as Treasurer. We will now take questions from the
audience. This is the order in which we are going to proceed.
Julius Jefferson will respond to the first question, then Lance Werner. If it
involves a question directed also at the Treasurer candidates, we will then
proceed to Andrew Pace and then Maggie Farrell. For the second question, we will
reverse that order, and for the third question, will make it possible for those
who did not have an opportunity to speak first to respond to your question. if you
wish to ask a question, please come to the nearest microphone. Please specify
whether your question is for the Presidential or the Treasurer candidates
or for all of the candidates. When you are recognized, please state your name
and institution before asking your question. As I indicated at the outset,
each individual candidate will be given up to two minutes. I encourage them to be
more concise and brief, if possible, to maximize the number of questions that we
can have at this session. Microphone 5: Jennifer Boucher, Georgetown University in
Washington, DC. As libraries have increased the respect of communities, the
membership in ALA has gone down. And so I’m wondering, as president what will you
do to increase the visibility of ALA and the benefits of being a member of ALA in
your year. Membership, so I’m not sure that membership is going down, but I will
say that two things that I want to do to increase membership: first of all, as I
said earlier, I want to focus on the ALA brand, our asset. The greatest asset for ALA to increase membership are the members. We have to bring in individuals
and let them know what great things that the American Library Association can do
for them, especially new professionals because new
professionals come to the association and may not understand that this body of
individuals can help them on their career. The other thing that I want to
focus on is recruitment. I want to recruit a diverse workforce and let them
know that once they become a librarian, that we are going to be inclusive and
have a home for them in our association. So I want to say that, remind you that, we
are the brand of the American Library Association, and we are the keys to
increasing membership. I think it’s a great question. I mean we
certainly do need to increase the visibility of the American Library
Association to be able to demonstrate what the return on investment for
membership is, and so I think it’s really incumbent upon us to ensure that we are
providing opportunities to new members and making membership something that is
more attractive. I think we need to ensure that engaging with the
association for a new member is something that’s easy and navigable,
and they’re not feeling lost and intimidated by this huge organization. So, providing a road map and providing more opportunities for them to, you know,
apprentice, not apprentice, pardon me, to do job shadowing, participate in
activities and grow professionally are critical. I think we need to be more
visible on campuses, and I think that we really do need to be more visible even
in grade schools and high schools, and then really let people know
that librarianship is a viable career. We’re not going anywhere; we’ve been
around for 3,000 years, and we’re gonna be around for 3,000 more. And yeah,so I
think we need to get out in front of people ever and let them know that we’re still here. Microphone number 3: Eric Suess, Councilor at Large, Director of the Marshall Public Library in Pocatello, Idaho.
Question directed to the Treasurer candidates. You’re both amazing. I’m
really trying to figure out whether I need to decide who to vote for based on
a coin flip. Given that, could each of you please give me a short reason why you
should be the person I vote for, as opposed to your opponent. Even though you
both like each other. I’m gonna remember that question, Eric.
You know, that’s a really hard question to answer. Maggie and I were talking the
other night about this being a really collegial campaign for us, and that
you’re basically, when you’re running for an office like this, we’re
volunteering to spend even more of our time devoted to the association. And in
my mind that ought not to be a competition. Because, I really, I like that
everyone spends time in that effort. I will say that my love for the financial
aspects of ALA is something that might distinguish me,
although Maggie is also BARC Chair. Again, I’m not sure if it’s going to
distinguish us too much. Also, it’s where I prefer to spend the
majority of my non-work time in the profession. So, lots of us have various
other places that we do, whether it’s Association of Research Libraries, or
Digital Library Federation, or the myriad of other associations that are out there.
I decided a long time ago to devote the majority of my time, the vast majority of
my time, to the American Library Association. Thanks. Eric, thank you for that question. And
we’re both kind of struggling with the answer on that, and I want to repeat what
Andrew has said, we have good choices in our leadership and appreciate all of the
candidates and their willingness to serve. I would say, I could talk about my
financial experience. What has surprised me as a librarian is once I’ve
learned finances and managing the finances of my library as well as in
service opportunities, for instance serving on the OCLC Board as Chair of
the Audit Committee, I’m surprised at how much I like it, and how good I am at it.
But I want to stress another aspect. Since this is a leadership position, the
financial aspects makes up of course a significant portion of the
responsibilities. But as a leader it’s about communicating with the membership.
It’s about attending to the goals, a strategic priority that Council has in
the Executive Board has. And as the BARC Chair this year, we set forth goals for
ourselves. And those goals are clarity. Clarity in financial terms. What does
overhead mean, and how is it developed? Transparency in the work that we are
doing, so we’re trying to get more information out not only to Council, but
to the membership. And finally, communication. So, I’ve stressed the role
of BARC liaisons and working with Divisions and Roundtables. The goal is to
provide more information, so that we can make sound decisions or we make choices
knowing what those financial impacts are. And those are the skills I would bring
as Treasurer. Microphone number five: Thank you. My name is Mark Miller. I am
the Chairman of the Loudoun County Virginia Library Board of Trustees. My
question is for the presidential candidates. In the recent past, the
American Library Association has taken positions on contentious political
issues of the day that do not directly, or in some cases even indirectly,
focus on libraries and librarianship. Do you as presidential candidates believe that
the library, the American Library Association, should or should not take
positions on non-library or librarianship political issues, and if so why or why
not? My opinion about this is no, the
American Library Association shouldn’t be taking positions on things that
aren’t related to libraries. I feel like going back to what I talked about
earlier about advocacy, I think that we’re all entitled to our own personal
opinions about things and I encourage people to vigorously oppose things
personally when they come up, but I feel like the American Library Association
needs to stick with things that are library- related. And I feel like by not doing
that, we position ourselves to be ineffective in other areas. I think that,
you know, it’s something that can just snowball and go, you know, on and on and
on. So, I firmly believe that we shouldn’t be taking issues on things that aren’t
directly library-related. Thank you. Thank you for the question. It’s an
interesting question. So, having served on Council for eight years, we’ve debated,
discussed many issues that certainly, on a surface, seem like they’re not library-
related. But I believe that there are many issues that on the surface seem
that they’re not library related, but they certainly have an effect on the
communities that we serve. They certainly are in our libraries. I
think that it’s on a case-by-case basis and it depends. I think that we have a
governing body that is equipped to be able to debate these issues, discuss
these issues, and come up with some type of resolution, even if it’s not something
that’s focused advocacy, but come come up with a resolution that will at least
state our position on certain issues. Microphone number two: Al Kagan, former SRRT Councilor. I have a
question specifically for Mr. Werner . And I hope I heard this correctly. I think I
heard you say that you work closely with the Tea Party, but I didn’t hear you say
that you worked with any other organizations. So why did you emphasize
your work with the Tea Party. I kind of want to give you a hug right now, because
working with the Tea Party is like finding a unicorn. No one’s been able to
do it since. It really, I said, I bring that up because I feel like it really
demonstrates my advocacy skills. I worked with everybody, actually. I’m known
in Michigan and across the county as representing everybody. I care about
people, so when I was dealing with a Tea Party, what I did is didn’t follow
anybody else’s advice, brought all my numbers to them, told them that this is
what we’re using our millage money for, and this is what we
need the additional money for, take it or leave it.
And they were so stunned that I just was so transparent and honest, they
didn’t know what to do, so they actually went door to door for one of the
municipalities. And I like to tell that story because it’s kind of astounding.
And then after that happened, other groups tried to go and weren’t able to
do it, but they didn’t have a relationship with people. I don’t pay any
attention when I’m in my public role to partisan beliefs. That’s irrelevant to me.
But it was important, too, for us to engage the enemy kind of proactively,
quote-unquote enemy, perceived enemy, and get them to either not come against us
or help us out, because we didn’t have money to fight off a counter campaign. Microphone number three: Thank
you. Rivkah Sass, Sacramento Public Library. So, I’m going to try to ask this question
in a way that makes sense about membership and about priorities.
There are those people who believe that ALA is really an insider organization
with an untenable governance structure. The council has something like a hundred
and eighty five members, which makes it wonderful for inclusion but difficult to
get real work done/ And the example I want to give is that within the last six
weeks, two librarians have been murdered in the line of duty. One of them in my
own library system. So, how do we streamline the organization so that we
address very real very important societal issues as an organization with
the nimbleness needed to actually get things done and that’s for a
presidential candidate. Thank you ,Rivka. Thank you for your question. So, I think
that that’s where the association is going now as I was a on the Executive
Board, we agreed that we would take a look at our whole association. This is
what the organizational effectiveness is about, trying to see whether or not we
have the right governance structure to lead us in the future. So, I think that
how we get there is where we’re going right now,
by having these open conversations of what’s going to work best in terms of
our governance structure. I’m not sure where we’re going to be at the end of
this. I think that certainly having 180 Councilors at Large can be unwieldy,
but I think somehow we seem to be able to agree on difficult issues. But I
certainly look forward to, as your ALA President, continuing this conversation
of the best governance structure for our association now. I think it’s important to be brave
enough to be critical of what’s going on and be honest and figure out what works
well and what doesn’t work well and not be sentimental when facing these issues at all. I think it’s important to get member input and ensure that members’
desires are represented, and if the association isn’t able to react in a
timely way to issues, and I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for the things
that happen to the two to librarians across the country, and it’s just it’s
heartbreaking. If we’re not able to react in a way, then something. in the way
we need to be reacting, then something isn’t right. I
think we need to be able to confront that. I think we need to be honest about
it and have the tough conversations to do the brave thing. You know, often what’s
right isn’t what’s easy, and I think it’s important to do what’s right. So, I think
that as we go through this process , and we’re looking at how we operate, we just
need to make sure it’s done the right way that serves everybody and make those
tough decisions. Thank you. Microphone number six:
Peter Hepburn, College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, California, and really glad
to be on this side of the audience this year. I’m asking a question on behalf of a
colleague who was not able to be in the room today for the two presidential
candidates. And she wanted to know what is the role of the American Library
Association or the relationship of the American Library Association with the
#metoo movement. And she specifically wanted to know about harassment of library
workers, how ALA can help with that and with the name Melville Dewey still being
on awards in the American Library Association. I think the American Library Association
needs to be a leader around the #metoo movement. I think all of us, especially
well in every library, I can tell you that in the libraries I’ve worked at, this
has been an issue everywhere. I think that we need to provide training. I think
that we need to provide guidance as to how we can effectively deal with issues
of sexual harassment, and it’s disgusting. So I think the American
Library Association can take the lead here and make sure that people are safe
and strong by providing that guidance. And so I firmly believe that’s something
that’s a high priority and needs to be looked at immediately. So, Peter thank you
for your question. So yeah, absolutely, the American Library Association is already
a leader in thinking about ethics. When we have we have a Committee on Ethics
and we talk about these type of things, what’s ethical. And we also, just like when we
come the conference, we have a statement on appropriate conduct. I mean we already
are thinking about that. So, I believe we certainly, we can do more as we have more
conversations. We’ve had conversations about the Wilder Award, and we made,
and that was at the Division level, and the decision was made. I think we’ll
probably have conversations about the Dewey Award. But these are not decisions
that are going to happen in a vacuum. We’re going to have to have more
conversation as we move forward. But I think we’re heading down the right path. Microphone number five: Tameka Barnes;
Georgia State University one of ALA’s Strategic Initiatives is equity,
diversity, and inclusion, and as somebody that’s benefited from such programs
being a 1999 Spectrum Scholar, can you tell me how you have supported EDI
initiatives in the association in the past, and what you plan to do
in your presidential year? Tamika, that’s directed at the presidential
candidate? Thank you. Thank you, Jim. Well, straight forward, I’ve supported the
Spectrum Initiative and you are a Spectrum Scholar, by donating to Spectrum. I
think it’s important that we certainly support the Spectrum Initiative,
but that’s just a start,
because Spectrum can only help a few individuals, a few individuals with that
the opportunity to be selected. But it is a good start to be able to donate more
money so more people can be Spectrum Scholars. But in terms of equity,
diversity, and inclusion, I think that this is a value that as an Executive
Board member I was for making a strategic direction because it is
something that we are lacking in our profession, in our association. I mean one
of the things that I want to do is be able to make us be an
association that’s inclusive, an association that people feel comfortable
being a part of, anywhere they find a home in the association. I think that for
equity, diversity, inclusion, I’m going to make sure that I offer the support and
the finances to continue the conversation of having an equitable
association and work force. I think this area is of top priority. I
really do believe that we need to double down and invest more heavily in it, and I
think that it’d be good to also get diversity training for, make that
available to all libraries, so they’re aware of that.
And even poverty simulations and things like that. So, I think the more awareness
there is around this issue, the faster we’re going to get it solved. So
absolutely, I think as President I would make a concerted effort make one of my
top priorities to ensure that the American Library Association becomes a
standard for other associations around the issue of equity, diversity, and inclusion. As far as the Spectrum Scholarship is concerned, I
haven’t had much contact the American Library Association, so I haven’t done
much before. I’ve done things locally in my library and ensured that we have a
workplace that that embraces equity, diversity, and inclusion. Thank you. We
have about five minutes left for questions. We’re going to definitely take
the three questions that are on the floor and then we’ll see where we stand.
Microphone number three: Hi. Ann Ewbank, Montana State University. And this is a
question for all four candidates. So, in ten years, in the event that you’re
elected, what will be the indelible mark that you leave on this association? Thank
you. Thank you, Ann, that’s a great question. So, as the Treasurer, what I would hope is that we would have that
infrastructure that is sustaining the organization, not only currently but in
the future which means that we have some difficult choices that we likely need to
make now that will be effective for the future. So, for instance, I’ll give you an
example. This is the examination of our, one of our greatest net assets is the
building on Huron Street, and should we sell the building, we need to be wise
about what we do with the proceeds of the building. And we are talking about a
significant infusion of cash within our endowment that could help to sustain the
activities that we have in the future. So, I think as Treasurer candidate, the mark
that I would leave is that financial infrastructure decisions that we are
making today have a long-term impact. In addition to that, we would be looking at
our the diversity and how we invest our funds, as well as how those funds are
being expended today, or your membership dues or revenue from conferences and
publishing, and that we are not only supporting the activities today but
helping the profession to prepare for their future in the association is
supporting that development. So, thank you. Thanks, Ann. I think a good mark
would be a growth, continued growth year over year. I think a balanced budget
would be a really good goal. But I’d really like to see a time when ALA is
contributing money each year to the endowment on a more regular basis so
that we can find other things to invest in related to our core values.
I think that growth in membership and making ALA an attractive place to be. And
then finally, I would I really hope as Treasurer that we can, and we’ve started
some conversations on this already, but really have some metrics associated with
the things that we’re investing in. And if we can build that platform of metrics,
then we can we can ensure that there’s the return on the investment is
articulated back to the membership in a meaningful way, so that it’s just not the
numbers that you see up on the up on the screen but the direct tie of those
numbers, the revenue and the investments, to the things that are important to the
membership and to the people we serve. I would hope that my legacy included a
number of different things including strengthening infrastructure, ensuring
that ALA sets the standard around equity, diversity, and inclusion, becomes an
advocacy juggernaut, there are more people who love libraries than guns. There’s
no reason why we can’t be as effective as the NRA is in Washington. We just have
to get organized and get our message together. I think that we should work on
streamlining communications to ensure that member voices are heard and acted
upon, and I think that uh everything, you know, decisions need to be member driven
and when we always need to keep in mind that we’re providing a return on
investment and an opportunity for new members, so they can be successful in
their profession and go far. I want to make sure that we’re not making them
feel disenfranchised. Thank you. So, I hope certainly that in ten years you look
back and I see that we increase the membership significantly, where if one
becomes a librarian, they know that there’s no other choice but to join the
American Library Association because there’s going to be a home for them here,
that we break down the silos across association, so we can be more effective,
so we can collaborate and work together, and we can be more effective in
advocating for the issues that affect libraries. I hope that when I look back
at my presidency at ALA, I think that this is the association that I wanted
when I joined, and it’s only going to get better from there. Microphone number six:
John Mack Freeman, Gwinnett County Public Library. I’m also a member of the Georgia
Library Association Executive Board. And this is for the presidential candidates.
What do you see as the state of the current relationship between ALA broadly
and the State Chapters, and what role do the State Chapters have to play in any
initiatives that you may put forward? So, I’m currently the Chair
of Chapter Relations, and I think that and I’ve been the President of a State Chapter, actually a city, District of Columbia
Library Association, and I think that what we lack
between the American Library Association and the Chapters is a robust
communication plan. I believe that we we are not communicating well enough to be
able to effectively support advocacy on on the ground. All politics is local,
and we have to be able to support the Chapters and therefore that
support will help us nationally. And I don’t believe that we’re communicating
well and as Chair of Chapter Relations, I’m working certainly with the Advocacy
Office to develop communication plan and as President that would actually be a
priority because I think that’s where it begins. I feel I’m coming as an outsider
somewhat but based on my communications in the state and talking with other
state leaders that I know, I feel that there really is too much space. I
think it’s something that’s being worked on, but we certainly could do more.
I think that in the future the association and the State Chapters
should work in concert more on a lot of issues. I feel like we’re stronger
together, absolutely. And truly, all politics are
local politics at the end of the day, so any advocacy efforts that we’re doing, I
think we need to keep that in mind and they think that there needs to be
overlap between what’s happening at the state level and what’s happening at the
ALA level. So, I’m all for increasing that pipeline through communications and
drawing people into projects, Mark, thank you. We have two questions on the floor, microphone three microphone five. We’re going to take both questions and
I’m going to ask each of the candidates to limit their responses to 60 seconds.
Microphone 3: I’m Johanna North Richland Hills Public Library. My
question is directed to the presidential candidates. As a
twenty-something-year-old librarian of color serving a second term on
Council, my concern for ALA is the representation of young librarians of
color at leadership level. When I look around the room, I don’t see a lot of
people that look like me, but we’re the future of this profession. So my question
to you is, if you are elected as President what is sort of your
seccession plan to include more young librarians of color and leadership
positions in ALA? I need like some kind of mentorship. Thank you. I truly believe
that we need to provide a secession plan that offers a higher degree of
engagement to young librarians of color, to get them more involved at the
leadership levels of this association. This association will be stronger by
drawing in people from diverse backgrounds and I feel like this is
something the association’s kind of fallen down on, and I would make it a
priority to develop that secession plan to get more people involved. Thank you. So,
I certainly am a champion for librarians, library workers, especially librarians
and library workers of color. I have been since I joined this profession. I think
that what I have done is certainly champion and mentor librarians of color
because I was champion and I was mentored and without being at, having a
champion, you are not going to be able to succeed and move up the ranks. And I know
that’s true, and that’s been my experience, so what I have done
and what I will continue to do is have open dialogues and discussion. I think
that I only have 22 seconds, but I can talk to you afterwards because this is
something we had a great program at JCLC, so you know I absolutely support the
work of JC LC, and I hope that conference we have an
opportunity to have dialogue to find out at every conference to hear from other
librarians of colors and all librarians how we can all work together
to have a place for librarians of color in this association. Final question.
Microphone 5: Aloha. I’m Andrew Wertheimer, Chapter Councilor from Hawaii. We’re really thrilled to see all the attention on EDI initiatives, but another
important thing for LIS is also intellectual freedom. And so, I think it’s
been tradition to ask all of the candidates, are you a member the freedom
to read foundation? Yes. Yes. Can I say more? So yes, I actually served on the Freedom to
Read Foundation Board for four years, serving three of those years as
President, and I still support the Freedom to Read Foundation. And every one of you xhould be members of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Check out the website, please. That completes our session on questions.
Each candidate will now have two minutes to make a closing statement. We will
begin with Presidential candidate Lance Werner. Well it’s great to be with you again. I
got to tell you this format is something else. Thank you everyone for
participating in this forum. I really appreciate your time. I want to take a
moment to say that I’m honored to have the opportunity to run for the ALA
presidency and I want to thank Julius, Andrew, and Maggie for being up here with
me today, coming together to have really meaningful conversations about the
future of ALA in our industries where the rubber hits the road. This work
cannot be done in a vacuum. I heard all your questions, and I take
them very seriously, and I pledge to help. I will not forget them.
My goal as ALA President is to be a catalyst for new opportunities to
elevate the role of librarians. One of these opportunities, of course, is to help
the new ALA Director to be wildly successful, and I have a
background in that. And another is so we must be willing to partner with other
organizations when it’s mutually beneficial and there’s a parallel
mission addressing a common issue. Other opportunities revolve around being
extremely proactive and visionary about the library industry. We can do just
about anything, but we need to set a clear vision and strategy. It’s the role
of leadership to set the vision strategy, and I’ll do this by making sure that
member voices are heard when making decisions, in deciding direction, and by helping libraries gain a seat at the table by leveraging the
greatest assets of kindness, empathy and love. In closing,
here’s your take away: the president must be a servant leader. In addition to
providing vision and direction, the president must be selfless and must do
everything possible to make sure everyone is successful. I ask for your
vote as ALA President and I wanted to ask, “When are we going to have a
conference in Detroit?
Thank you. So, we are in a
transformative period in ALA history that demands insightful and experienced
leadership that will define our future as we face internal and external
challenges. The president of ALA serves as the chief spokesperson for our
association, presides over Council and presides over the Executive Board. I’ve
had the pleasure of rising through the ranks of ALA with many of you in this
room, participating in the conversations about where we need to go together as an
association. I’ve served on and lead ALA committees, presented programs nationally
and locally that address the values of leadership, professional development,
intellectual freedom, and diversity. I have served on Council, participating in
making ALA policy, and I was elected to serve on the ALA Executive Board, voting to
move important issues like EDI as a part of our strategic directions. As your
President, I will lead using my experience and knowledge of ALA to
continue collaborating with ALA members, leaders, and staff to unite us as an
association. So together we will speak with one voice and be a strong, modern
library association for a modern profession. I ask that you elect me to be
your 2021 ALA President. Thank you. Thank you again for your time today in
discussing issues of paramount concern to our association. I’m honored to stand
for election with Andrew Pace and I want to publicly thank Andrew for his service
to ALA, but also his collegial manner during the election. And just a note,
Andrew and I are holding a joint reception at 6:30 in the Ballard Room. I
hope that you can join us. We discussed a number of pressing issues for our
association this afternoon but underlying all of our work and underlying our
initiatives is a sound financial structure. Our members expect and deserve
wise management of our collective resources, that their financial and time
investments are well managed to serve both the individual and collective goals
of our association. While I can’t predict our financial future, I have the
willingness to work hard, to be open, to seek direction, to facilitate
conversations, and to be accountable. I also have strong leadership and
facilitation skills that will enable us to work together in order to support our
mission. I bring expertise from my work through managing large budgets. In
addition, I have direct ALA financial experience from serving in leadership
positions and currently the Chair of BARC. This prepares me to be your leader
and oversee the finances of the association. Thank you. Again, I ask for
your vote as Treasurer. Thank you once again to everyone in the
room and the future watchers online, if you’re still with us after this long
presentation. I don’t have a whole lot to add to what’s already been said. And if
you’ll forget a small departure from humility, we should consider ourselves
lucky as a volunteer membership organization to have four fine
candidates for two very important offices of the association. Whatever the
outcome of the election, I feel like ALA will be in good hands.
Maggie, it’s been a pleasure to run, not against you, but with you for this
important role. I’ve been a member of the ALA for over 25 years. After home and
work, the association has often been my third place. It’s where all my extra
professional energy is spent. It’s the organization to which I
feel a measure of devotion. Most importantly, it’s where my friends are.
I’m incredibly humbled by the support that so many of you have already shown
me. Many of us see librarianship and library work as a calling. I’ve never
considered another profession, and never have I felt more fulfilled
professionally than in my work in ALA leadership. My term on the ALA Executive
Board has been the most rewarding time of my entire tenure with ALA, but I also
like to see things through. We are barely halfway across ALA’s multi-channeled
stream of change. Those waters can get tricky. I want to help the association
navigate this crossing as its Treasurer. It’s the best way that I can think of to
serve. I would be grateful for your support and your vote. Thank you. This concludes the 2019 ALA Midwinter
Presidential and Treasurer Candidates’ Forum. It has been my pleasure to
moderate this forum, and I will note that I stuck to the script, I would like to
thank our candidates and all of you who came to hear them and to question them. I
would also like to strongly encourage you to vote this spring and to urge your
fellow ALA members to vote, as well. Electronic balloting will begin on March
11th and will close on April 3rd. The results of the election will be
announced on April 10th. Thank you for coming. Have a good evening.

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