Al Kagan’s Council Report to SRRT
ALA Annual 2006 Report to SRRT
By SRRT Councilor Al Kagan
Having our meeting in New Orleans after Katrina was strange, sad, and even heartbreaking for those who saw the worst of the devastation up-front. But those who volunteered to put libraries back together and gut houses came away with a great sense of satisfaction. Of course, the very special New Orleans food and music sustained us. We indeed put New Orleans back on the convention map, and our spending of millions of dollars was a great help to the city. The Chapter Councilors passed a resolution through the ALA Council commending the members of the local library community for their hard work, urged us to bear witness to our communities back home, urged us to be prepared for local emergencies, and urged state chapters to work with the ALA Chapter Relations Office to aid Gulf Coast libraries, including through the Adopt-A-Library Program. SRRT developed its own statement, which elicited a burst of applause when I read it on the Council floor. It was the highlight of the meeting for me. One thing in our statement that was left out of the resolution was that “political negligence” was behind this catastrophe. We also stated “?¢‚Ç¨¬¶the greatness of the United States lies, not in its military power, mammoth bank accounts, mighty corporations, and culture of consumption, but rather in the simple humanity, generous hearts and helping hands of its ordinary people.” Many thanks to Elaine Harger for drafting this eloquent statement.
SRRT developed only one resolution for ALA Membership Meeting and Council, a resolution on the Darfur Genocide. Since we now have a reasonable quorum of 75, it was heartening to see the Membership Meeting being used again to good effect to put this topic on he Council agenda. We then discussed the resolution at the Council Forum (an informal discussion) where it was evident that many Councilors have forgotten the importance of resolutions rising up from below. This discussion set the stage for Council approval as well as the thought that there should be more action in the resolved clauses. The final resolution included not only urging libraries to highlight and explain the genocide through collections, programs, displays, etc., but always to call on publishers of both the academic and popular press to publish more on Darfur and other genocides. Thanks go to Sandy Berman for writing the original resolution.
SRRT activist Ann Sparanese partnered with Melora Ranney-Norman to introduce a resolution endorsing two bills on better access to health care before Congress. The first on single-payer universal health care has no chance of passing, but the second on the Health Partnership Act has more chance of success. It was referred to the Legislation Committee and passed along with the other COL resolutions.
It is a pleasure to report that SRRT members were elected to both the Council Committee on Committees and the Planning and Budget Assembly, Bernadine Abbott-Hoduski and Theresa Tobin, respectively.
The ALA-APA (Allied Professional Association) considered its first resolutions in New Orleans, both on labor legislation and regulations. The first one on supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, the ability to easily form unions, squeaked by but the second one on overtime pay failed. When I spoke, I reminded the body that we were sitting as APA, an advocacy body, and that we were formed explicitly to advocate for bills to promote better salaries and working conditions.
The Intellectual Freedom Committee brought two resolutions that were duly passed, the first on Retention of Library Usage Records, and the second promoting a National Discussion on Privacy. The Chapter Relations Committee resolution on opposing Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) state legislation sailed through. These bills are constitutional amendments restricting spending through a formula based on population change plus inflation and require voter approvals. So far only Colorado has passed this type of legislation.
The Committee on Legislation brought seven resolutions of its own and forwarded two more for action. All were approved. COL’s seven were on support for: EPA libraries, federal libraries, the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006, online social networks, network neutrality, e-rate discounts, and Patrice McDermott (on leaving the ALA Washington Office). Council also endorsed the American Association of Law Libraries resolution on No-Fee Access to PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). Finally, the resolution on health care legislation described above was approved.
Let me take the opportunity now to thank all the SRRT members who elected me for another term as your SRRT Councilor. It is indeed an honor and a pleasure to do this work. As usual, I will be happy to try to answer any questions.