From the President: A Roller Coaster Year for ALCTS

For ALCTS 2018–2019 turned out to be a roller coaster of a year. We entered the year with definitive Board votes to devote time and resources toward exploring a new division, joining with the Library Information Technology Association (LITA) and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA).

People ride a bright aquamarine rollercoaster curving through palm trees
Photo by Matt Bowden on Unsplash.

Although we devoted significant time and resources toward a new division in the fall — which I detailed in my earlier column, “Exploring a New Division: A Personal Take” — we had to face the unfortunate truth that we were unable to get all of our goals accomplished in time for our respective Boards to make a decision whether to bring the new division before the membership for a spring vote. More importantly, we realized we would not be able to communicate and elicit feedback from our members in time for a spring vote. As many of you know, we instituted a project pause, to give all the Steering Committee (made of leadership of the three divisions) a chance to think, reflect, and determine the best course of action for the future.

As my professional home for many years, I care deeply about ALCTS and its future. I felt that, with changes in professional landscape, declining membership within ALCTS, and capacity limitations of the staff, we were due for a change and that joining forces with LITA and LLAMA would make our organization better able to serve the membership and position us well for the future. Devoting significant energy toward achieving a goal under a certain time frame, and having to come to the conclusion that I could not, was hard to acknowledge, and not what I had wanted for my presidential year. But I knew that this process is ultimately about finding a path to best serve our members, as well as current and future library and information professionals. Pausing for reflection, being deliberative, and ensuring that communications were engaging the individuals for whom ALCTS exists to serve would ultimately give ALCTS the brightest opportunity to carry forward into the future, under whatever conditions we decided.

Pausing for reflection, being deliberative, and ensuring that communications were engaging the individuals for whom ALCTS exists to serve would ultimately give ALCTS the brightest opportunity to carry forward into the future.

I am very pleased that after a moment of collective breath-taking, we have resumed work on developing a new ALA division. With the important additions to the leadership of Evviva Weinraub, LITA President-Elect, Tyler Dzuba, LLAMA President-Elect, and Christopher Cronin, ALCTS President-Elect, we are ready to to complete the work and blaze a path forward. Chris, Tyler, and Evviva have already jump-started their terms, participating in meetings with the 2018–2019 Steering Committee and boldly assuming leadership for a new iteration within 2019–2020. The new division will carry forward the mission, vision, and values previously presented, and the Steering Committee will finalize the project plan for bringing it to fruition, hopefully including a formal announcement of a proposed name later this year. Under the revised timeline, we expect to bring forward to a membership a vote on the creation of the new division in early 2020. If membership vote in favor, the new division would then officially come into being on September 1, 2020, at the start of ALA’s fiscal year. Recognizing that communication was one our shortcomings from this past year, we will be revamping our communication efforts, hopefully to include a website. In the meantime, the ALCTS/LLAMA/LITA Alignment Connect site will continue to provide updates.

After a moment of collective breath-taking, we have resumed work on developing a new ALA division. We are ready to to complete the work and blaze a path forward.

At Annual Conference in Washington, DC, we held a joint meeting of the three Boards of ALCTS, LLAMA, and LITA. As with all Board meetings, visitors were welcome, and we shared project updates, pivoted toward our goals for this coming year, and engaged in lively conversation. The longer time frame for the creation of the new division has allowed each division to get to know one another a little better, more completely identifying our commonalities and understanding our cultural differences. Additionally, within ALCTS we will be taking this year to further refine our own structure and activities, with an eye for carrying forward our core work while streamlining our structure. At the Friday ALCTS Board Meeting, the Board approved a one-year strategic plan to assist us with this “pivot” as well as bring forward a core value of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Additionally, we are using this year to collaborate with LITA and LLAMA on several programmatic projects. First, I am chairing a working group to hold an online conference in the spring of 2020, with a working title of the ALCTS/LITA/LLAMA Exchange. Based on our earlier ALCTS Exchange, this conference will offer interactive online sessions to support professional development and networking across the three divisions, with a draft theme of cooperative collections. Second, the three 2019–2020 Presidents are organizing a joint President’s Program at ALA Annual 2020, with a draft topic around preserving cultural memory of events that might otherwise be forgotten. The President’s Program Committee will be chaired by Cynthia Whitacre. Finally, in fall 2021, hopefully serving as the kick-off event for the new division, the three divisions are planning an in-person conference, using the LITA Forum as a model. The Program committee for the in-person Forum is being led by LITA’s Berika Williams. We are excited to be moving forward on these collaborative ventures and believe it will position us well to working together in the future.

I continue to be impressed as how much ALCTS is able to accomplish because of the time, expertise, and inventiveness of our dedicated members.

Before signing off, I would like to thank all of the individuals who were instrumental in their support during my presidential year. I would like to thank the ALCTS Board for their deliberation, consideration, and guidance on these tough questions of the future of our association. I am especially appreciative of the thoughtful guidance, comments, and opinions of ALCTS Executive Committee colleagues, ALCTS Interim Executive Director Kerry Ward, ALCTS Deputy Executive Director Julie Reese, President-Elect Jennifer Bowen, Past-President Mary Beth Thomson, and Division Councilor Erin Stalberg.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to work with the amazing leadership of LLAMA and LITA, particularly LITA President Bohyun Kim, LITA President-Elect Emily Morton-Owens, LITA Past-President Andromeda Yelton, LITA Executive Director Jenny Levine, LLAMA President Lynn Hoffman, and LLAMA President-Elect Anne Cooper Moore. Members from all three divisions put in much time and effort into considering how a new joint division could be successful.

Most importantly, I would like to thank all ALCTS members. I continue to be impressed as how much ALCTS is able to accomplish because of the time, expertise, and inventiveness of our dedicated members. I have been honored to lead ALCTS during the 2018–2019 year.

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