As many of you know, at our Midwinter meeting the Board voted to bring a few ALSC Bylaws updates before the membership for a vote on the spring ballot. We were required, by those same Bylaws, to provide the text of those proposed changes to you at least one month before the ballot. We did not, and so the changes will not appear until the ballot in 2011.
The proposed changes have to do with how ALSC defines the scope of our attention. That is to say, as ALSC Members, who look to our professional organization as a place to find and offer support for excellent library service to children, how old are the children we serve? At the lower end of our age range, do we begin at preschool, or do we start with babies? Our Bylaws say “preschool.” The proposed changes say “birth.” At the upper end of our age range, where childhood and young-adultness are something of a fluid, back-and-forth state for the young people themselves, where do we as professionals draw the line? Our Bylaws say “the eighth grade of junior high school age.” The proposed changes say “up to and including age 13.” An ALSC Task force worked long and hard on this, and that work included soliciting input from you via a survey, sent to the entire membership last fall, and starting a discussion on ALA Connect. The Board deliberated about the task force recommendations, and in the end voted to bring the proposal before the membership.
A vibrant discussion of these matters on ALSC-L recently, most of which has centered on the upper end of the question, has been interesting and informative. There has also been some talk about using age or grade to draw the upper line. And the initial discussion has spawned any number of related threads, including how we want to commit to serving tweens, and what that commitment will look like; how ALSC can lobby the Obama administration; how ALSC members want to communicate with the Board and with one another, etc. If you’re interested in reviewing the discussion, you can visit the ALSC-L archive. It is clear that people want more time to consider, and we are setting up a discussion on ALAConnect, for those of you who want to continue talking about the proposal.
Among ALAConnect’s greatest strengths are its ability to thread discussions, and its accessibility to the membership. Those of you interested in discussing other things, related to these issues or not, are welcomed and encouraged to set up a group and do just that. Some have expressed discomfort with ALAConnect. It does indeed involve a learning curve. Like any powerful software, it is complex. But it has a terrific help function. You can go straight to the ALA Connect site and click on the word help in the upper right, or type the word “tutorial” in the search box, for loads of ALA-specific, interactive video instruction modules.
I hope you’ll join me in thanking the Scope of Attention Task Force and the ALSC Board for their consideration and deliberation. And accept my thanks, now and in advance, for your active, passionate, essential participation in the business of the Division.
ALSC President 2009-2010