As someone who posted this morning on ALSC-l regarding “Scope of Attention,” I received written notification later in the day that the proposed Bylaws change [changing the scope of attention from “preschool” to “birth” and the upper age range from “the eighth grade of junior high school age” to “age 13”] cannot appear on the ballot until 2011. As a result, I am optimistic that this delay will provide time to hear from more members about this challenging issue, and that this turn of events will also open up opportunities for discussion at the Annual Conference in D.C. Since I promised to post my original message on the ALSC Blog, it is as follows:
Because our shared understanding as a Board is to act as “one voice,” I have been reluctant to post my concerns–as well as my vote–regarding the “Scope of Attention.” However, as the draft of the Midwinter Board minutes scheduled to be published today should make clear, I did not support lowering the upper age of ALSC service to “13.” As a result, I voted against the motion to include it on the spring ballot. My objections were not only related to the content of this motion–as these minutes as well as my post on ALA Connect (made prior to the 2010 Midwinter Meeting) should demonstrate–but also to the process that led up to it.
On ALSC-l, former ALSC president KT Horning has asked for clarification from Board members as to why this issue has been pursued with such vigor at this time. To be frank, I’m not sure why. Last spring, ALSC President Pat Scales received a letter from the YALSA leadership requesting that ALSC consider stopping our range of service at age 11. As the minutes of the summer 2009 ALSC Executive Committee Meeting demonstrates, this request was discussed yet there was no indication that ALSC would pursue lowering the upper end of our age of service.
As the subsequent minutes from the fall 2009 ALSC Executive Committee Meeting also indicate, information about the Scope of Attention Task Force was presented, as well as the fact that the Organization & Bylaws committee would be informed of the Scope of Attention Task Force in the event that a “tight turnaround” was needed at Midwinter [to insure that a motion was included on the spring ballot]. What these minutes do not indicate–and I will request they be amended to include–is that Pat Scale’s request that discussion of the “Scope of Attention” also take place on ALSC-L was denied. Although Board members would have the responsibility to decide whether or not to support the recommendations of the Scope of Attention Task Force, I feel that our discussion was repressed at the Executive Committee meeting using the justification that it was a matter for the membership to decide. Ironically, if KT Horning had not brought the actions of the ALSC Board into question, I believe that such an essential membership discourse would never have happened.
As Vice-President of ALSC, I apologize for not being more assertive in guaranteeing that the membership be allowed the opportunity to fully discuss this contentious “Scope of Attention” issue. As a measure of my commitment to transparency, I will post this commentary on ALA Connect and request that it is posted on the ALSC Blog as well. ALSC Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and I have already talked about our commitment to having regular meetings with the entire Executive Committee so that no Board member in the future will have to plead ignorance about why any issue is being pursed by the ALSC leadership. In addition, Aimee and I have also been discussing having the ALA Parliamentarian attend the ALSC Board Orientation Meeting this summer so that the Board is fully informed about the range of responses available to a motion beside supporting or rejecting it. To conclude, I believe that the best way to insure that the ALSC Board speaks as “one voice” is to respect the voice of each individual Board member.