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.


At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Diedre Conkling said...

A link to this survey was posted on the ALA Council discussion list, which was great. I will add it to my list of blogs that I periodically peruse.

One small quibble - applications to be nominated by the Nominating Committee to run for an ALA Council position are due by September 30. The even easier way to run for a position is as a petition candidate. The petitions and bio. info. aren't due until Jan. 30, 2006. If you want to be an ALA Council member then you have to learn to be extremely picky. ;-)

Here is what is posted at the ALA website:

2006 Election Schedule or

January 30, 2006

Last day nominating petitions may be accepted for ALA officers and Council. (Complies with Article III, Sec. 3(b), wherein acceptance of nominating petitions is required "at least four months before the Annual Conference.")

(you might have guessed that I am an ALA Councilor-At-Large)

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Diedre Conkling said...

Ok, I wanted to make one more comment but it is in a slightly different area so I am sending two comments to the blog.

At the Oregon Library Association's last Executive Board meeting the comment was made that there were a lot of library school students (Emporia, U of Washington, and others) who had volunteered for the conference committee and other committees. I can not begin to tell you how thrilled everyone there was.

I want to encourage all students and people new to the profession to join state associations. You will get a lot out of the experience and the work you do will really be appreciated. It also might be easier for you to get funding to attend a state conference or other program sponsored by a state association committee, division, round table, etc. Really, it is just plain fun but I am trying to make it sound terribly professional.

An added bonus, if you do decide to run for ALA Council it can help you get elected if the people in your state know you. They might vote for you anyway just because they want to support a local person. However, they are more likely to tell their friends to vote for you if they have worked with you on committees and projects in the state.

On top of that, it doesn't look bad on a resume.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous rochelle hartman said...

Councilor/Blogger Rochelle, here. Good going, Heidi! I look forward to seeing your name on the ballot. I may be seeing you at the hostel. Up until now, I've had full support from my library, but learned yesterday that our budget was slashed. Even paying for part of my conference trips will be tough since I'm a Librarian I with two kids, but it means enough to me to find a way to do it. I think ALA and Council need more of us who are farther down the chain. I'm more than happy to talk to or encourage anyone who is considering more involvment in ALA or a run for Council.

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Mark said...

This post was a Ringmaster's (Editor's) Choice for the Carnival of the Infosciences #9 which can be found at:

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Wong Online PoKér Hu said...

It's interesting to note that you even conducted a survey to get the views of other people regarding the council. That's good. At least, you know what to remedy or improve on.


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