Sunday, September 25, 2005

So you want to run for ALA council...

Here are the results of my very unscientific survey...

I only planned on posting this survey to the NexGen and NewLib lists, but then it showed up on Tinfoil + Raccoon, so the responses may come from a larger pool.


1. What group do you identify with (choose as many as apply)?
  • MLS/MLIS/etc. student 39% (30)
  • NexGen/GenX/Millennial 63.6% (49)
  • New/recent MLS graduate 46.8% (36)
  • Paraprofessional 7.8% (6)
  • Other (please specify) 6.5% (5)
  • Total Respondents 77
  • (skipped this question) 0

Those who chose "other" mostly identified themselves as a librarian, just not a recent grad or nexgen age group. One person listed "Establishment" (ha ha), and there was one intern.


2. Are you a member of ALA?
  • Yes, I'm a student member 34.2% (26)
  • Yes, I'm not a student member 46.1% (35)
  • No, and I don't plan on joining 3.9% (3)
  • No, but I would consider joining to run/support a council candidate that represents my interests 15.8% (12)
  • Total Respondents 76
  • (skipped this question) 1

Hooray for supporting your professional organization! Of course, the fact that you’re subscribed to NexGen or NewLib (or read Rochelle’s blog) might mean that you’re keen on professional involvement to begin with. At least we know that most of you are eligible to vote in ALA elections. And if you're not a member, keep in mind that you have to join before the online voting starts to be eligible to vote in that year's election.

3. Are you an active participant in a library association? (choose as many as apply)
  • Yes - ALA committee/roundtable etc. 22.7% (17)
  • Yes - state library association committee/roundtable etc. 13.3% (10)
  • Yes - SLA (special libraries) committee/roundtable etc. 4.1% (3)
  • Yes - MLS student library group committee/roundtable etc. 9.3% (7)
  • Yes - other committee/roundtable etc. 12% (9)
  • No, but I'd like to get involved 53.3% (40)
  • No, and I'm not interested in serving on a committee. 8% (6)
  • Total Respondents 75
  • (skipped this question) 2

Kudos for being involved! It looks like a fair number are already making their voices heard. There’s a large number who aren’t currently involved, but would like to be. How do we make that happen? What is getting in the way?

4. Have you ever attended a national library association conference? (includes ALA annual and midwinter, PLA, SLA, etc.)
    No. 46.1% (35)
  • Yes, once. 27.6% (21)
  • Yes, 2-5 times. 19.7% (15)
  • Yes, 6-10 times. 5.3% (4)
  • Yes, 11+ times. 1.3% (1)
  • Total Respondents 76
  • (skipped this question) 1

5. Have you attended a state library association conference?
  • No. 47.4% (36)
  • Yes, once. 26.3% (20)
  • Yes, 2-5 times. 22.4% (17)
  • Yes, 6-10 times. 2.6% (2)
  • Yes, 11+ times. 1.3% (1)
  • Total Respondents 76
  • (skipped this question) 1

Getting to conferences may be the biggest barrier to more involvement among students, new professionals, and nexgen-ers.


6. What are your thoughts on ALA council?
  • Don't know enough about council to have an opinion 63.2% (48)
  • My interests are well represented on council. 1.3% (1)
  • My interests are somewhat represented on council. 21.1% (16)
  • My interests are poorly represented on council. 14.5% (11)
  • Total Respondents 76
  • (skipped this question) 1

Ouch. I think we’ve each got to shoulder a certain amount of responsibility for staying informed about what is going on in our profession, but if this many people are in the dark about council, it suggests that either council is perceived as irrelevant or inaccessible. If you want to learn more about council and ALA governance, you’ve got a few options. Try reading the council listserv archive (all standard listserv caveats apply). Or, try reading the blogs of a few councilors--they usually mention their council activities once in a while (a google blog search for ALA council turns up quite a few). And if you go to a conference, participate in the membership meeting or listen in on the council meetings. Other suggestions? As for those of you who do have a sense of what's going on, things still don't look very good. If you're the I-like-to-work-from-within-the-system-to-change-things type, all the more reason to run.

7. What is your interest in running for ALA council?
  • Sign me up! 20.3% (15)
  • I'd like to, but I can't afford to go to the conferences 33.8% (25)
  • I don't want to run, but I'm interested in supporting NexGen/recent grad candidates. 45.9% (34)
  • Total Respondents 74
  • (skipped this question) 3

Okay, so I didn’t offer an “I don’t want to vote for you” option, but there seems to be a healthy amount of support for folks who are interested in running on the “I’m a young and/or newbie upstart” platform. So go sign up already! You've still got a few days to decide...the deadline is Sept 30. Good luck! And if you'd like to network/form a posse, send me an email.

UPDATE: Between copying and pasting from surveymonkey, blogging, then going back to surveymonkey to close the survey, one more person responded.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Math vs. ALA

Let's look at some numbers.

Just how many votes does it take to get elected to council? ALA publishes the vote count along with the elections results. In the most recent election, everyone who received over 2000 votes got elected. Last time I asked, ALA had roughly 61,500 personal members, Which means you've got to convince just over 3% of total membership. That's not terribly intimidating, especially if we get some people working together. My guess is that most people have never heard of the majority of candidates.

So, assuming that we can get some folks elected, the next step is getting to conferences. What's a realistic budget for the frugal councilor? Well, we're talking six conferences: New Orleans(?), Seattle, DC, Philadelphia, Anaheim, and Denver.

First, there's ALA membership and conference registration, both of which are significantly cheaper at the student rate. Plan ahead and renew/join at the student rate just before you graduate! (Is that ethical? Shh, I won't tell.) There are a bunch of variables affecting membership rates, but the maximum is $100 a year. And be sure to take advantage of the early bird registration rate ($100 for midwinter, $125 for annual).

Next we've got transportation to the conference. In my experience, you can get from major airport to major airport just about anywhere in the lower 48 for $200 to $400 if you buy early, and the conferences tend to be near airport hubs. If you don't live near a major airport, or you live within a few hours of a range of airports, get creative. To get to ALA in Chicago this summer, I took a bus three and a half hours south and flew out of a neighboring city. I got to have lunch with a friend of mine in Seattle, and I saved about 200 bucks on airfare. The conferences are spread out geographically, so even if it costs a lot to get to one location, odds are you can get to at least one out of six for fairly cheap.

Then there's hotel, food, and transportation.

How many days are we talking? The conferences are usually advertised as nearly a week long, but some of that is pre-conference stuff. I thought you could get by on three days, but it looks like council meetings were spread out over five days for annual in Chicago. That means a five night stay, unless you want to skip the last meeting and send a proxy. Youth hostels run about $30 a night, and the couch of somebody who knows somebody you know is even less.

If you need to get anywhere, take public transit. I spent under $20 on bus fare the whole time I was in Chicago.

As for have to eat anyhow, right? Let's just count the amount that is over what you would normally spend. There's a certain amount of socializing that happens over meals, so brown-bagging it the whole time might not be an option. Here's a hint: vendor receptions in the evening = free food. Besides, librarians tend to be generous. Someone might even buy you lunch (especially if they can bill it to their per diem). If you feel like a mooch, make a mental note to buy dinner for some poor library student a few years from now when you can afford it. Can we agree on $30 a day for food? 5 for breakfast, 10 for lunch, 15 for dinner. Even the über-frugal among you has got to spend at least $5 a day on food at home, so I'm only counting $25 a day.

Am I forgetting anything?

The grand total per conference is:

112.50average registration
300average airfare
150hostel bed

Add in membership, and you've got $1515 a year, or $4545 (ouch) for the whole three year term. Less if you're a student, can stay with a friend, or if you can get funding from your employer. If you can find a free place to stay for half of the conferences, get your job to pay registration fees once a year, and have a student membership the first year, that already knocks almost a thousand bucks off the total cost. I'll trade you a couch in Seattle for one in Anaheim.

Not exactly a small chunk of change, and admittedly financially unrealistic for more than a few, but not a bad investment in your professional future. Granted, you could manage a nice vacation for under $1500, and Buenos Aires may hold more appeal than Philadelphia in January, but being around 20,000 library-types for a couple of days is an adventure, too.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Young upstart seeks seat on ALA council...

I've been thinking about running for ALA council ever since I emailed the chapter relations office and found out that 15% of ALA personal members are student members. In my mind, that means there should be several students on council. Jenna Freedman's reasons to run for council are almost enough to make me throw my name in the hat. I emailed someone I know on council to get her thoughts, and she was very encouraging, but she said that anyone who runs probably needs a posse to get elected.

Hmm. How does one get a posse?

While I'd be tickled pink to get elected, the little devil on my shoulder doesn't want to stop there. What if we got a posse elected?

Here's a little survey that I sent to the NexGen and NewLib lists to gauge interest. So far, folks are rather keen. Only 15 minutes and I've got 8 responses. I definitely sense a posse.

Results to follow...