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KGS to ALA re NO: WTF?

Note: the actual date of the EB conference call was 10/12, not 10/11. ALA had sent out a message in error but not in time to correct it for its digest subscribers. I still squint at that chronology, but what the hell.

So this morning I find out that ALA will, indeed, hold its annual conference in New Orleans in 2006. You might think that as a member of ALA’s governing body I found out through a memo or post alerting us to this decision and fleshing out in more detail how it was made and how we as members of Council could field questions to others, etcetera. But if you thought that, you were smoking crack, because you know ALA doesn’t operate that way.

Instead–and why am I surprised?–I learned about this decision through a question from a constituent who had read about this decision from a link shared from the ALA website today, and all I could offer was a dumb stare and a “WTF?”

Then came the inevitable canned, smarmy memo, sent out in the name of Michael “Blog People” Gorman, which said in part:

“As you know, we have been following the situation in Louisiana very closely over the last two months, and have been receiving almost daily reports from local authorities on the damage and reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Last week, a delegation from ALA traveled to New Orleans to assess the situation.”

However, ALA couldn’t even get its story straight, because American Libraries is reporting, “the ALA Executive Board concluded in an October 11 conference call that the city would be sufficiently recovered from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina to host the conference.”

So what WAS the dateline for these decisions?

Sometimes I really do wonder what exactly is the point of having a Council if you aren’t at least going to wave something past them on the way to post something on the ALA website. Between the time, and money, and expense… why bother?

It’s not the decision, and it’s not that EB made it, because we do delegate to EB, but I do get this feeling that Council is treated like a passel of inconvenient idiots, to the point where we aren’t even FYI’d on a key decision. “WTF” is not an operating principle in my library.

Am I going? Was it the right decision? That is not the point. The point is that ALA did a great job of demonstrating that yes, they do believe Council is irrelevant. ALA isn’t the only association I know of with a tendency to forget that it is a membership organization with an elected leadership, but it’s certainly one of the largest.

Oh, sweet irony: on Tuesday I give a talk about ethics and blogging. I’m going to use examples from the non-blogging world to underscore my point. If you’ve been a shill for the White House, or for ALA, you will be mentioned. Oh yes, you will be mentioned.

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