Magazine article American Libraries

Executive Director Issues Dominate First Council Session

Magazine article American Libraries

Executive Director Issues Dominate First Council Session

Article excerpt

ALA's governing Council devoted its entire first session at Midwinter Meeting in Washington to issues surrounding the Association's executive director.

Reflecting Council's concern over the issue, the touchy topic of the compensation paid Executive Director Elizabeth Martinez, originally scheduled to be discussed at Council's second session, was moved to the top of the Council I agenda. Much concern had been expressed on the Council listserv and elsewhere over the $230,000 package of salary, housing allowance, and bonuses given to Martinez this year (CD#39.2), and over the Executive Board's reluctance to disclose the figure. The amount was renegotiated after Martinez reversed her decision to resign last year and agreed to stay on through her contract, which expires this August (AL, Mar., p.7).

Treasurer Bruce Daniels stressed to Council that the executive director position is more analogous to a corporate director than a library director, pointing out that the search firm involved in obtaining a successor to Martinez has warned that the $150,000-minimum figure given in ALA's advertisement for the position is "fairly low."

Stating that Martinez's compensation package is "not unusual," Immediate Past President Betty Turock said that the board "has never meant to obfuscate or hold back information," but acted based on precedent.

ALA President Mary Somerville had earlier stated that "the board's decision to renegotiate Martinez's compensation was a collective one and one we felt was in the best interest of the Association." She added that Martinez's compensation was "right on target" compared to peer executive directors, pointing out that the only variance was between males and females in the position; she declared the level to be appropriate in light of ALA's attention to pay equity.

Although Council stopped short of taking any action regarding the compensation issue, many took the opportunity to express their displeasure over the process. "Frankly, I don't care what the dollars and cents are," declared Councilor Sheila Intner, but she added that "it rankles" that someone would be paid bonuses to do what they were originally contracted to do.

"We as Executive Board could have done better," admitted board member Martin Gomez. "We've heard your concerns."

Voicing concern over possible inequities between the salary of the executive director and the second tier of ALA executive staff, Council asked staff to supply salary information on the top five associate executive directors (CD#39.3).

Council segued from the executive director's compensation to the search for a successor to Martinez. Camila Alire, chair of the search committee, reported that the search process is "definitely on schedule." She said the committee had 34 candidates lined up, with a good mix of gender and ethnic diversity: 11 women and 23 men, seven of color. The timetable was to choose and interview semifinalists in March and to interview the finalists in May.

Councilors expressed concern over the prospect of the position going to a professional association manager rather than a librarian. Alire admitted that the committee was looking at a "broader pool" of candidates, with only 14 of the 34 having a MLS. Alire said that the committee had made a great effort to solicit candidates with library backgrounds.

Councilor Gordon Conable warned that the Executive Board would find "substantial concern expressed by membership" if a nonlibrarian is selected. Mary Jane Anderson that the prospect of beyond the pale" and that librarians across the country will not accept it.

Although a motion to instruct the search committee to only consider candidates with extensive library backgrounds was defeated - due in part to the fact that the search was already underway, and to the reluctance expressed by several councilors to "micromanage" the search - the discussion left no doubt of Council's position on the matter. …

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