2001-2002 ALA President-Elect

Report to the American Library Association

President-Elect 2001-2002

Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman, MLS, PhD

October 11, 2001

 

Following is a review of significant events and initiatives since I was informed of my election, May 3rd, 2001, as President-Elect of the American Library Association.

 

ALA Annual Meeting, Marriott Hotel, San Francisco

 

The Annual Meeting for 2001 is over and what went on regarding the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees (HERE) boycott of the Marriott Hotel has been widely reported.  It is over and done.  However, I feel an incumbency to include in this report some discussion of my actions.  Out of respect for the boycott by HERE, the position of support by the San Francisco Public Library, the Mayor of San Francisco, and so many others, all of whom requested that ALA members not enter the Marriott, I chose not to attend any ALA meetings or events held in the Marriott, including my first official meeting as a member of the Executive Board of the American Library Association.  It is critical that we all learn the lessons needed from the series of events surrounding the Marriott boycott to do our best to ensure that ALA’s membership is not confronted with such a conflict in the future.

 

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

 

This was my first IFLA Conference as an ALA officer.  Several highlights follow. 

 

Campaign for the World’s Libraries: I was part of the ALA team that met with the IFLA Board and presented the information concerning the proposed Campaign for the World’s Libraries.  IFLA officially adopted the Campaign and now libraries around the world will be following up with @your library materials and messages adapted to suit their nation’s needs and in the many languages spoken in those countries. 

 

Cuba Resolution: I was very proud to have been a member of the American Library Association because of the strong and principled stand ALA took in co-sponsoring a resolution in support of improving relations between the United States of America and Cuba’s libraries.  The resolution was co-signed by Eliades Acosta, the director of the National Library of Cuba, who represented Cuba’s library association.  What made it special from the U.S. perspective was the unflinching statement of opposition to the U.S.’s embargo policy against Cuba and the crippling effects it had on Cuba’s libraries and people.  Kudos to John W. Berry, ALA President, Nancy John, Chair of the ALA International Relations Committee (IRC), and to the IRC members and everyone else who played a role in bringing this resolution to the IFLA Council.  The very good news was, although combined with a similar resolution, the substance of the ALA-Cuban resolution was approved as part of a combined version of the two.

 

Meetings and Personalities: In addition to getting a chance to meet with and see many of the friends and colleagues I see at ALA conferences and elsewhere, I had the wonderful experience of meeting and getting to know librarians from around the world.  I won’t list all of them, but will highlight just one.  Getting to know Kay Raseroka, newly elected President-Elect of IFLA and director of the University of Botswana Library gave me insights into the universality of gender and pay equity issues for librarians.  Her achievements and promotion to her position involved her having to overcome the same kind of sexism that women librarians have had to deal with for the better part of the 20th century and still affect compensation for female librarians.[1]

 

Round Table of Managers of Library Associations (RTMLA): I attended this meeting so that I could establish a dialogue with other presidents-elect regarding their plans and programs for their respective associations.  A good thought…  However, I found out that in so many associations that the President is an honorary position and that the Executive Director is the one who develops the programs, manages the association, and is the most active person in promoting the association programs and resolving problems.  After much discussion, I ended up, along with Ellen Tise, newly elected president of the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA), being responsible for a RTMLA program at IFLA 2002 (Glasgow) on library association strategic plans and programs.

 

Bob McKee and the Pay Equity Issue in the Library Association: I had the pleasure of meeting with Bob McKee, the Executive Director of the Library Association.  The Library Association (LA) has been most intensely studying the issue of salaries and pay equity for British librarians.  The LA has held extensive and valuable on-line discussions with its members on this topic.  Because the theme of my presidency will be improving the salaries and pay equity for America’s library workers, it was most valuable making this contact and learning about what is going on in the LA.  We will maintain a dialogue and share the information we develop because so many of the problems faced by British librarians—as with Kay Raseroka from Botswana—are the same confronting U.S. librarians.

 

Campaign for America’s Librarians: This will be the title for the theme of my presidency.  Although the word librarians is used, the task force will focus on all library workers.  It will be a part of and complement the Campaign for America’s Libraries.  I have established the theme for my presidency and have appointed a task force to begin its work on developing programs and materials, including a Better Salaries and Pay Equity Toolkit.[2]  The task force will liaison with the Past-President Kranich’s Committee On the Status of Librarians so as to ensure that the valuable work done by that committee will be incorporated into the work done by this task force. 

 

On the Council listserv and other venues I have indicated what the current goals and outcomes for the task force will be.  They are:

 

 

Overall the intent is to provide the resources and inspiration for America’s library workers so that they can feel more empowered to be better advocates for themselves and their colleagues on salary and compensation issues.

 

The task force membership is pretty much complete.  It will have its first meeting in November.

 

ALA Activities: Because of the 9/11 events, my ALA Chicago Headquarters orientation and media training lasted six days instead of three.  (Of course three of the days were spent trying to get a flight home from Chicago—I ended up driving home in a rental car.)  I was pleased to have met so many of the ALA staff, and the media training seemed to be most helpful.

 

I also had a one-day orientation in the ALA Washington Office.  It was a pleasure meeting the key players who represent the Association in Washington, and becoming apprised of the many and diverse areas in which they are working so hard. 

 

Anti-terrorism Bill: I also had occasion, October 10, 2001, to fly to Washington to help lobby New York’s senators to support the Feingold Amendment to the Anti-terrorism bill.  Of particular importance was the visit with Senator Schumer’s office because of his membership on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  That committee is currently working on the bill.  The ALA position is to support the Feingold Amendment.[3]

 

Speeches and Selected Meetings: Included in my travels were speeches against censorship.  I spoke, September 24th, in support of Banned Books Week at the Yonkers (NY) Public Library, and at a program meeting, September 30th, of the Rockland (NY) County Coalition for Democracy and Freedom, at the New City Public Library.

 

October 11th, I also spoke and interacted for two and one-half hours with about 40 members of the Chicago Public Library staff concerning ALA, my presidency, salaries and pay equity, filters, and several other topics with approximately 40 members of the Chicago Public Library staff.  It was a great deal of fun.  Also, after reading so much written by Laura Morgan on several listservs, it was a pleasure to meet her, argue a little bit, and have a pleasant chat after the program.

 

That evening, I attended the Chicago Public Library’s Carl Sandburg Literary Dinner, which featured one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, and Chicago’s excellent up-and-coming African-American author, Jeffrey Renard Allen (Rails Under My Back.)   Incidentally, I am proud to say that Mr. Allen had been one of the featured authors at the Westchester (NY) Library System’s African-American Writers & Readers – A Literary Tea, 2000, held annually on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Mr. Allen had also indicated that Kurt Vonnegut was one of his favorite authors, as well.  Mr. Vonnegut gave a great speech, one that I hope sees the light of publication soon because of his thoughts on the attack on the World Trade Center and the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, and so much more.

 

And so it goes.

 

 

Maurice J. (Mitch) Freedman, MLS, PhD

ALA President-Elect

Director, Westchester (NY) Library System

October 17, 2001 [slightly revised version]

Originally submitted to the ALA Executive Board, October 11, 2001.

 

 



[1] Male salaries are adversely affected too.  Because men work in a predominantly female profession, their salaries suffer accordingly.  It should be noted that too many instances exist in which men get paid better than women in comparable library positions simply because they are men.

[2] This is the working title.  It says what is meant, but the actual name is subject to change.

[3] Note that since that visit and this report was originally written and submitted to the ALA Executive Board, that the Feingold Amendment(s) failed and an anti-terrorism bill was passed that is dreadful for libraries and those concerned with privacy, civil liberties, etc.


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