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ALA’s “Citation” For Laura Bush

In yet another dispatch from the What Were You Thinking Department, ALA’s website has an egregious fiction splashed on its front page insinuating that ALA has awarded the First Lady with a “citation.”

“ALA” didn’t award Bush anything. The first anyone on Council heard of ALA’s citation was through the announcement on the website. It is true, and unobjectionable, that the immediate past president and current president of ALA gave the First Lady copies of the two “youth awards,” the Caldecotts and Newbery Medal winners. As for the “citation,” whatever it was and whatever it said, I don’t know about you, but that smells like an award, and awards are voted on by Council, the governing body of ALA, of which I am a duly-elected member.

I would never begrudge the permanent bureaucracy and temporary leadership of ALA the right to brown-nose with current presidential administrations, and a pile of books is a good thing to give anyone. (Notice that ALA didn’t give Mrs. Bush the latest Stonewall award winner.) However, I expect ALA to stop far short of implying that ALA–a membership organization–has bestowed awards on anyone when the governing body that you elected has not had a chance to hear of, let alone debate or vote on, an award. ALA was quick to respond that “Mrs. Bush did not receive an ALA award,” but this is not a credible response when the the front page of the ALA website trumpets that Bush received a “citation.”

This whole mess is an end run around ALA governance that is disrespectful to the membership and contemptuous of the processes we have established. ALA, get a grip–or lose your grip on your members.

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