SRRT Councilor’s Report on ALA Council
ALA Council Report to SRRT, Anaheim, June 2008
ALA met at Disneyland, whoops, I mean Anaheim, June 27th to July 2nd. The ALA and APA Councils passed several resolutions that are particularly important to SRRT concerns. As Council goes, it was a remarkably tranquil meeting and Council III finished its business in record time, adjourning around 10 am on Wednesday morning. In fact, I immediately thought that since we had extra time we should have worked harder and got more SRRT resolutions on the agenda.
Our SRRT Resolution Concerning ALA Policy Opposing Sweatshop Labor and Support for Union Businesses passed in modified form. At the Council Forum where Councilors informally discuss forthcoming resolutions, it was quite clear that there was a lot of support for the sweatshop provision but vehement opposition to including anything about unions. Jonathan Betz-Zall and I therefore deleted the union language before it came up on the Council floor. So this as a step in the right direction, but it is unclear on whether we can ever get a union provision. ALA itself is not unionized. Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director, is quite pleased about our resolution and he is eager to begin implementing it.
Another SRRT initiative came up again as part of the usual ALA Implementation Report from the Midwinter Meeting. It seems that although we had substantial documentation and included a short bibliography, our resolution demanding the return of confiscated Iraqi documents had several inaccuracies. These were pointed out by Dr. Saad Eskander, Iraq’s National Archivist. Jonathan and I revised the resolution and resubmitted it to the International Relations Committee. The IRC reported it out, and the Council passed the revised version without much comment.
The never-ending Cuba discussion came to Anaheim in the form of another resolution in support of the so-called “independent librarians,” who are neither independent nor librarians. Rather they are mostly politicians and journalists, funded by the US Government, who happen to have small book collections in their homes. Although proposed by three Councilors, both seconders were new to ALA Council and when given full information about ALA’s longstanding record and the covert motives of the powers behind the effort, both seconders withdrew their support. The resolution therefore had no second, and was never included in the official agenda. I want to complement Peter McDonald, Chair of the ALA Resolutions Committee, on his excellent work on this matter. Peter explained the background to the debate at the Council Forum to new Councilors and the old ones chimed in to note their disgust in having to deal with this again and again. Peter also initiated a discussion at the Council Forum and on the Council floor exposing the anti-Cuba lobby’s dirty tricks. This time they seem to have crossed a line when they revised an ALA document, and then distributed it as if it were a real ALA document. They even sent it with a simulated ALA Council subject line in their e-mail messages.
The document is Michael Dowling’s (Head of the ALA International Relations Office) extremely well researched report titled Cuba Update for ALA Annual 2008. The original document shows that 98% of the funds of these “independent librarians” come from the US Government. And it also shows how US Government funds have been used to try to influence library associations. Peter explained how this lobby has targeted new ALA Councilors and even candidates for Council. They have bullied them and tried to get them to sign on by asserting that their support would get them elected to Council. Two new Councilors came forward to publicly decry these tactics from their personal experiences. Keith Fiels will write a letter to Steve Marquardt who doctored the document noting ALA’s displeasure, possibly including the legal issues involved. Keith will work on ways to alert new Councilors of these dirty tricks, and he will also alert big name ALA speakers so they are not duped as in the past.
I was particularly happy to see the passage of the ALA APA resolution, “Endorsement of a Living Wage for All Library Employees and a Minimum Salary for Professional Librarians.” This follows-up on a resolution passed last year endorsing a salary minimum of $40,000 adjusted each year for inflation. The rate stated in the new resolution is $41,680 for librarians and $13.00/hr. for hourly workers.
The Intellectual Freedom Committee brought and Council passed six revisions to interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. Most of these involved only very minor language changes. The most important change added “gender expression” to the interpretation now titled, “Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Sex, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sexual Orientation.” The Council passed a separate resolution on pending legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The resolution calls for the reinstatement of protections for transgender persons regarding gender identity and expression. Evidently, these protections were in the original bill but subsequently deleted.
The Committee on Legislation brought and Council approved resolutions on funding support for the National Agricultural Library and outreach to the five national libraries regarding the @Your Library campaign, support for the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007, and support for preservation and access to the US audio heritage by bringing these materials under federal Copyright jurisdiction.
Finally, Council passed the “Resolution Adopting the Definitions of Digital Preservation and the Revised Preservation Policy for the American Library Association,” and a resolution expanding Council transparency which might eventually lead to live streaming of Council sessions.
As always, I will try to answer any questions.