Magazine article American Libraries

ALA Executive Board: Board Hears of Turnaround in D.C

Magazine article American Libraries

ALA Executive Board: Board Hears of Turnaround in D.C

Article excerpt

Updating the ALA Executive Board at the first of its Midwinter Meeting sessions, held January 19, 22, and 24 in Seattle, ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff said, "The big news from Washington is the 110th Congress." She noted that the previous, Republican-led Congress "was so divisive that nothing got done," which was detrimental to the Association's legislative agenda.

However, with the election last November of a new Congress with a slim Democratic majority, "things have completely turned around," Sheketoff said. "That they're all talking about bipartisanship is good for us because it means bills will begin to move." She added that "We work well with both Democrats and Republicans, but we need movement."

Sheketoff reported (EBD#12.28) on numerous matters the Washington Office is monitoring, including the efforts to close U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional libraries ("We've had a tremendous amount of movement on this issue, and it continues"), increasing bandwidth for public-access library computers, and various appropriation bills facing the new Congress.

Reporting on a usability assessment of the ALA website conducted last fall (EBD#12.38), Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels said the chief finding was that people feel the site is organized more around the organizational structure of ALA and the units that generate the information, rather than around the actual information users are seeking.

Seeing "significant potential here for making the website easier to use," Fiels hopes to put a number of high-priority "quick fixes" in place immediately, with long-term improvements to be implemented following the 2007 Annual Conference (AL, Feb., p. 8).

Development Office Director Joan Claffey reported (EBD#6.1) on recent activities, including a $2.6-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a three-year study on public library funding and technology access; sponsorship by the Target Corporation of El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day); funding by Dollar General of The American Dream Starts @ your library, a program developed by ALA's Office for Literacy and Outreach Services; and negotiations with the NASD Foundation to support a pilot program awarding grants to individual libraries to offer investor information.

Claffey said the Development Office has approached 40 companies to date in its effort to cultivate socially responsible companies as donors.

Conference Services Director Deidre Ross reported that attendance in Seattle topped 12,000, which is only about 1,000 under last year's Midwinter in San Antonio, and that revenue was over projections. The board approved Conference Services' recommendations of Boston and Atlanta for the 2016 and 2017 Midwinter sites, respectively (EBD#12.32), as well as skeleton schedules for the 2008 conferences (EBD#12.33).

Budget Analysis and Review Committee Chair Patricia Wong reported (EBD#3.5) on plans for a new ALA-Association for Library Trustees and Advocates membership category that would give ALA and ALTA membership to multiple members of a library's board for one base fee.

Assessing a table listing revenues and expenses of the eight Scholarship Bash fundraising events held since 1999 (EBD#3. …

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