Magazine article American Libraries

Postponements, Referrals, Routines Outpace Actions

Magazine article American Libraries

Postponements, Referrals, Routines Outpace Actions

Article excerpt

What had promised to be an agenda fraught with debate over issues such as education for librarianship and ALA's relationship with the Boy Scouts of America became instead three sessions devoted largely to routine reports, referrals, and postponements. ALA Council met June 28, 30, and July 1, during the Association's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., but forswore extensive debate and adjourned without completing its agenda.

The cautious mood of Council has gradually deepened over the last several years, following the sting of the so-called Israeli Resolution, which was rescinded in 1993 when councilors realized that, passed in a frenzy, it had become a diplomatic and public relations nightmare (AL, July/August 1993, p. 618). This year's actions -- or lack of them -- indicate an unwillingness to lunge into controversy without the benefit of committee analysis and due process.

There was no shortage, however, of ceremony and actions in the area of legislation (CD#20.5-9). Council proceedings began with a June 28 appearance by Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.), the only librarian in the U.S. Congress. It being his birthday, Owens was presented with a huge cake, which was served to councilors and spectators.

Welcoming Council to the nation's capital, Owens gave an impassioned speech in support of the threatened e-rate for libraries and schools, urging the Association to "rally the children of America" in a "counterattack on the greedy and misguided" who want to deprive educational institutions of the telecommunications discounts. He called the e-rate "as important as the G.I. Bill or the Morrill Act to establish land-grant colleges."

A ubiquitous flier from the ALA Washington Office circulated throughout the conference asking attendees to urge their legislators -- in visits to congressional offices and by phoning the Capitol switchboard and talking to members of Congress -- to protect the e-rate and fair use and "respect local decision-making on Internet access policies."

By consent, Council adopted a resolution in support of the universal service provisions of the Telecommunications Act (CD#49).

Patricia Wand, chair of the Committee on Legislation, presented three resolutions that were swiftly approved by consent. A resolution (CD#20.6) "in support of the vitality of fair use in the digital age" resolves that ALA "remain committed to working closely and cooperatively with members of Congress and their staff, and representatives of all affected industries and constituencies, in pursuit of WIPO treaty implementation legislation which, in equal measure, protects copyrighted information and permits its continued fair and other lawful use in the digital environment to no less an extent than that permitted under current law."

A resolution (CD#20.7) "commending the U.S. Congress for language in the 1999 Defense Authorization bill prohibiting the closing of libraries on military installations and one (CD#20.8) commending the Library of Congress for its "extraordinary support" of the Annual Conference in Washington passed by consent, as did a motion from the floor supporting the minting of a Library of Congress coin in honor of LC's bicentennial next year.

Loving the `L' word cautiously

Councilor Ruth Gordon moved (CD#54) that whereas the competencies needed for many specialized areas -- children's services, young adult services, reference, cataloging, school librarianship -- are being short-changed or totally ignored in many graduate programs," ALA's Committee on Accreditation and an advisory task force be charged with revising the 1992 Standards for Accreditation to include "mandating courses in the special fields." She also moved that the standards include the statement: "ALA accredits master's degree programs designed to prepare students for careers in librarianship.'

"I come from a state [California] where we can't buy a school librarian, a children's librarian, a reference librarian, a cataloger . …

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