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Don’t Agonize, Get Busy

(Note: I did change the title of this piece, from “terrorize” to “get busy,” though in my comments I indicate why I’m not entirely comfortable with that. In truth I had issues with using the word “terrorize.” It bugs me that I did, though.)

Don’t quit ALA over Michael Gorman. In fact, if your membership has lapsed or you’ve never been a member, join. Now. We need you. Join a division, such as PLA or LITA, and get active. Meet people. Network. (The “people” kind of networking.) Lurk on the division discussion lists. Become a cyber-member of the increasing number of e-committees. Cobble together the cash to share a hotel room with a friend, and go to ALA or to LITA Forum or to PLA in Boston, or all of it.

The very best thing you could do for Michael Gorman is leave ALA to his ilk. He was elected, but had he run on the Luddite platform he’s now espousing, the election would have gone much differently. He’s not representative of the Association. If I relentlessly pound him (and his little dog Toto), it’s because I know he’s not the real ALA.

The very worst thing you could do for Michael Gorman is join ALA, find a niche or two, and speak up. Guys like him believe in a world where a few voices represent the rest of us. Prove him wrong.

I’ve been active in ALA since I was a library student (January 1992 was my first conference). Yes, there are some vocal Luddites. We have even elected some spectacular idiots to ALA offices. But we also have elected soem great folks–Ann Symons comes to mind as a stellar, stand-out ALA president–and we have a lot of members who are tuned in, turned on, fully wired and wi-fi’ed, podcasting, real-time video delivering, valid and well-formed librarians. Many ALA members are not techies but are administrators and leaders who have helped lead, fund, and champion all information tools–books, CD-ROM, the Internet, and beyond. They got that way not only from influence within their libraries but from their experiences in our–read me: our–association.

In a year, Gorman will be the past-president. In a couple of years, he’ll be just another library dean with “ALA President” on his c.v. In the meantime, you can really only meaningfully critique Gorman and his statements if you’re an ALA member.

You know, I remember we did the whole business with the “blog people” banner, but I still think the best suggestion for a website or t-shirt was “I blog and I vote.” Next time there’s an ALA election, make it political. Drill the ALA presidential candidate mercilessly. Demand he or she commit to a pro-tech platform. Make them wake up at 2 a.m. terrified that they might not have been pro-tech enough when you interviewed them for your blog or newsletter or discussion list.

ALA, like any organization, can be frustrating at times. That’s what it means to participate in a big organization. Trust me, I have worked on issues that have gone down in flames, and I have some that seem to get nowhere. But you know, for all the frustration, there’s also a lot of fun and camaraderie.

Come on in, it’s a great gang. Many of my best friendships, many great moments in my life, many things I’m proud of, many things I’ve learned, are connected in some way to my ALA membership. We, in ALA, are ALA. I know that includes Gorman, but he’s one in 65,000. Join up and find out for yourself. Please!

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