Ken Haycock Answers Your Questions
Ken Haycock was the second ALA Presidential Candidate to ring in with the answers to your questions. The questions are bolded, followed by the answers.
I was overwhelmed with the number of questions I received from librarians in the US and from around the world (the total was somewhere around 50). Normally I am lucky to get 10 responses to a call for submissions from people, so this seems to be an important topic for the LISNews audience. I chose what I felt were the best ones, omitted the duplicates (most popular were questions on pay and image), and ran them through a spell checker. What you see are the unedited questions I received, more or less in the order I received them.
I did move the very first question to the first position in this list, it struck me as being the simplest question, but yet the hardest question to answer. They were free to answer or ommitt any of the questions. I removed the names to protect the innocent, and did not number the questions.
Why should I continue to pay my dues and remain a
member of the ALA?
ALA serves well the continuing education needs of
members and support for defending issues of importance to
libraries and librarians. The programs, journals and collegiality
of ALA have always been beneficial to me from the time I joined
27 years ago. While I believe that ALA is an important, even
critical, association for our profession and institutions I
cannot answer this question for another. There is a plethora of
library associations while strength comes in numbers, focus and
At present, ALA throws the weight of its considerable
influence into absolute opposition of filters in all libraries.
Doesn\'t this make its claim to favor a local library solution on
this issue somewhat disingenuous? In the upcoming battle to
challenge mandated filters for libraries receiving E-rate
discounts, wouldn\'t the ALA\'s position be stronger if it really
did promote a local solution by taking a more balanced approach
that recognizes the ethical complexities of the problem?
I have written extensively on this subject [Bowker Annual three
years in a row] and conducted research on it as well [reported in
School Library Journal and elsewhere]. I do not favor blocking
access to information and ideas for anyone, especially using
flawed software. Although I support ALA\'s stand on filtering, I
do believe that more support should have been provided earlier
for public libraries to develop programs with their citizens to
encourage community-based decision-making. My preference, and the
evidence, favors education and programming over filtering.
Do the candidates support the ideas about the need for
a re-introduction of national public library standards supported
by the American Library Association as I urged in my March 2000
article in American Libraries?
Would they support the idea of a method for ALA to
identify and get the funding to provide for "genius grants"
for the libraries that can be identified as having clearly
superior best practices so that library students and other
libraries can learn from the best?
Since the Federal State Cooperative Service is indicating
that it may put a halt to "early release" of library
statistics (thereby virtually assuring that the numbers will be
three to four years out of date when published rather than the
current 2 years) would they support a program to have ALA collect
and publish all data from the 50 states? This would mean getting
the currency of the PLA Public Library Data Service dataset with
the comprehensiveness of the FSCS dataset.
No. I believe that ALA resources should be allocated to ensuring
that the agencies responsible do the job necessary to enable us
to do ours. ALA does not have the available resources to take on
tasks that rightly belong elsewhere and which would not be an
overall membership priority.
What will you do as ALA president to fight for fair use
in an online world where content providers are fighting to
destroy fair use?
The ALA has a primary responsibility to work with legislators and
to develop coalitions with citizen groups to ensure that the
tenets of fair use developed in a print environment are seen as
legitimate and critical to a democracy in an electronic
environment. The ALA Washington Office has been a useful source
of information on moves made by content providers and as a
monitor for "Beltway thinking".
The ALA has for many years been a proponent for
libraries, but many members feel that the ALA has not been a
proponent for librarians. What will you do as president, to
demonstratively increase the status and pay of America\'s
professional librarians? As ALA president, how would you address
the issue of the relatively low salaries paid to public
librarians? Do you believe there is a brain drain, and if so,
what are the implications?
I agree that ALA has focused more on libraries than librarians,
which is odd considering that the public supports libraries but
question the value of librarians. The new ALA campaign is to
focus on librarianship as the 21st century profession, as
recommended by the Congress on Professional Education, which I
chaired. We face a paradox wherein corporate America is
recognizing the importance of librarians and rewarding them
accordingly while "our own" institutions, academic and
public libraries, offer librarians the lowest salaries. There is
a brain drain, both overseas and to private institutions. The
implication is a shortage of public librarians, as we know.
Advertisements in American Libraries should carry salary ranges
and salary studies should be published regularly to praise those
providing adequate recompense and embarrass those who do not. Of
course, the local economic situation would also need to be
considered [one might be able to live better on a New York city
salary in a different state, e.g.!]
Many professional organizations provide liability
insurance coverage for their members, but the ALA does not. With
the increase in legal and personal attacks on librarians,
trustees and other advocates over the censorship and filtering
demands and other situations, will ALA investigate the
professional liability coverage of all ALA members through their
This type of suggestion should be encouraged from
members, investigated for its utility and value and implemented
if warranted. ALA needs to move to a full-service association for
member needs that are not typically addressed through employment.
ALA has been slow in responding to the call for
contracting out of library services in all libraries. Certainly,
the preeminent professional organization for libraries should
address the issue more strongly, and at least, provide a
checklist of issues for libraries, directors and trustees
contemplating the contracting out some or all of library services.
Also, the publication of a handbook outlining the pros and cons
of contracting out, and what to look for and look out for, are a
minimum response that has so far been lacking by ALA. What will
you do to make the ALA more active in the issues of contracting
First, the research study conducted on this topic for ALA by
Texas Woman\'s University needs to be more broadly disseminated,
whether as an ALA publication or not. The issues, and their
complexity, need to be discussed and considerations articulated,
as suggested here. Of greater importance to me, however, is the
outsourcing of entire public library systems to private
enterprise, depriving communities of control, responsiveness and
accountability. Public services should be offered to, and
controlled by, the public.
The growth of unions among libraries and professional
employees has increased greatly over the past few years. ALA has
often taken the position of directors and managers, although most
of the members of ALA are not in management positions. This is
also a topic most often not covered in library schools. A survey
of the strength of unions, and the issues that are raised among
the libraries which have become unionized has never been done.
ALA should take an active role in keeping track of this trend of
the unionization of library technical and professional workers.
What would you do to make sure the members become aware of the
issues raised by the unionization of library staff? How to handle
a union election? What unions are active in libraries?
One of the recommendations from the Congress on Professional
Education, about which I have a keen interest, concerned research.
ALA offers funds for research but has not articulated a clear
research agenda for the Association. The issue of unionism is a
logical component. Our research funds should then be moved from
open applications on broad themes to specific calls for proposals
on clearly stated problems or issues. The results need to be
broadly disseminated to the field for decision-making and to the
research community for further investigation. The question of
unionism is included in the graduate course that I teach in
management in an ALA-accredited program and part of a research
study I am undertaking on public library branch managers.
Since we are living in an increasingly globalised world,
what international initiatives or projects do you envision the
ALA initiating in the near future?
The premise of globalization in the question is true yet
studies of ALA members indicate that international projects are
of limited interest. As an active member of two international
associations [as an officer of the International Federation of
Library Associations and Institutions and former voluntary
executive director of the International Association of School
Librarianbship] I favor ALA articulating an international agenda
and pursuing it through the appropriate international bodies.
What will you do to make ALA more welcoming to new
librarians and to help them develop themselves professionally?
I became involved in ALA because I was welcomed and encouraged to
participate. The same occurred when I was elec3td to Council and
assigned a "buddy". ALA is a large association of many
parts. Discussions need to be undertaken with the divisions and
round tables to explore specific programs and procedures that
might be used to welcome new members. This needs to extend beyond
the good work done by the New Members Round Table. I support the
moves to coordinate a continuing education program for ALA that
includes conferences and divisional and round table programs. We
have the means to offer exceptional continuing education programs
if we focus and assign necessary resources.
Every candidate for ALA president this year is male,
which points to a larger underlying issue of men being
disproportionately represented in the higher ranks of both
professional associations and administrative positions in what is
still a female-dominated profession. What do you intend to do to
address this imbalance?
The percentage of senior managers who are female has been
increasing and the gap in wages between men and women has be decreasing. This
needs to be encouraged. At the same time, there are systemic
issues related to female participation that need to be addressed.
When the "four-fifths minority" is not represented on a
slate for higher office the reasons need to be examined and
redressed. A key component is leadership development and
There has been a recent trend of non-librarians being
considered, hired, or appointed for high-visibility library
positions. How do you intend to promote the MLS as the basic
degree for librarians and ensure that librarians are the first
choice for any such position?
I recently had occasion to interview civic leaders who selected
non-librarians for senior positions. It was valuable to find that
preference would have been given to professional librarians had
they applied and demonstrated the necessary management and
leadership skills and attributes. This suggests to me that ALA
needs to encourage senior management training programs as part of
continuing education as well as encouraging and supporting
candidates for leadership positions. Graduate programs needs also
to demonstrate how their programs develop skills in management,
marketing and staff development as these are critical at all
levels of professional work today.
How would you improve our cities\' public libraries
response to freedom of information related requests for
legitimately public cities\' archives?
I am committed to open and equitable access to all information
not prohibited by law. Indeed, in some cases even the law needs
to be challenged. ALA needs to develop guidelines with state and
regional associations and hold systems accountable for the
quality of service they provide.
What will you do as ALA president to fight for fair use
in an online world where content providers are fighting to
destroy fair use?
Same as a previous question above.
What do you see as the most worrisome provision of UCITA?
Would you support proposed amendments to exempt public libraries,
or would you favor solidarity among libraries of all types?
The worrisome part of UCITA is less a single component than the
precedent that it sets. I favor solidarity on the issue as our
strength is in our numbers and "cross-environment" [type
of library] concern.
What segment of the public is served least by public
libraries? What do you think contributes to their being
underserved by libraries? What, if anything, should ALA do about
The underserved may vary by library and community as well as by
definition, e.g., based on collections? human interaction?
policies? Generally speaking I believe that young adults [teenagers]
are least served as an identifiable group and as an aggregate.
ALA needs to continue to develop standards, recognize exemplary
programs and services and start to work through the PLA and YALSA
divisions to open discussion with trustees and public library
directors about this problem. It is difficult to limit one\'s
response to one group as there are obviously many other groups
underserved in collections [gays and lesbians], in "mirror
images" and role modles [visible minorities] and in out
reach [poor and homeless].
Are the proprietary interests of library automation
vendors essential to libraries\' long-term success? Which ecology
of software do you think would most benefit libraries: the
Microsoft model, where source code is proprietary, or the Linux
model, where source code is available? What, if anything, should
ALA do to encourage the development of free library automation
projects like Koha.org?
ALA is not going to dismantle Microsoft nor is it going to
compete with automation vendors. Having said that, however, there
may be a role for ALA to develop pilot projects through
partnerships using available source code and testing free
Please relate your opinion about paying exorbitant fees ($20,000
- $70,000)for keynote speakers at the annual conference to the
very high cost of membership in ALA and its divisions. (If it
would help, you can compare Jimmy Carter and his fee to Colin
Powell and his fee, and tell us which had the most value to us as
I abhor unseemly fees paid to speakers who encourage volunteerism.
Having said that, there are more substantial issues here. We need
to work with our members to determine why such highly paid
speakers attract such large numbers of librarians [even when
encouraged by colleagues not to attend], not to mention local
politicians. As you no doubt know, the Powell fee was donated but
it is uncertain whether the funds could have been diverted to
Over 2 million people are imprisoned in the U.S. Library
services to these individuals is varied from locale to locale.
Would you consider a national initiative to develop awareness and
service provision to these "Least of our Brethern," as
they were characterized by Larry Sullivan in AMERICAN
Yes. This is an important area for research and for development
and implementation of guidelines and standards.
A number of graduate programs in the field have removed
the word "library" from their name within the past
several years. How do you feel about this change, and what
implications do you believe it has for the profession as a whole,
and ALA in particular?
There are two questions here. Graduate schools are developing
more and diverse programs as part of their repertoire. While the
name of my own School includes "Library", I am not
troubled by a shorter name that does not include it. Where I am
deeply concerned is where the program of preparation for
professional librarians does not designate librarianship as a key
component. The "homogenization" of information roles
can dilute the core values and competencies of an honorable and
increasingly valued profession.
Do you feel the ALA accredited MLS programs are training
librarians very well for a career, it was a big joke that you
spend all the time in school, and then learn to become a
librarian your first year on the job, what is the point of
forcing us to get a masters degree?
There are more than 50 accredited programs in North America. Some
are residential, some are delivered through technology; some are
one year in length, some are two; some are more research/theoretically
intensive and some have a teaching/practical emphasis. The
comments above are not helpful as they generalize one experience
across dozens of programs. Having said that, I do favor
strengthening the standards for accreditation and making them
more clear and accessible. I am also committed to the
recommendations from the first Congress on Professional Education.
What will you do the move some focus onto special
librarians and academic librarians, it seem the major focus of
the ALA is on the public sector.
The Association for College and Research Libraries, the American
Association of School Librarians and the Public Library
Association are the three largest divisions in ALA. Numbers
usually bring strength. Many of the initiatives within ALA do
focus on public libraries but are becoming more relevant to other
environments too. There is a growing sensitivity to ensure that
ALA serves the needs of all library sectors. If that is not
happening, there needs to be representation by those groups
feeling that their voice is not heard. I also favor the
development of benchmarks and criteria for assessing what ALA
does and for whom.
How would you have handled the "Boy Scouts"
thing that happened a few years ago? Do you think that the ALA
should spend any time or resources on such things in the future.
This goes back to what is the ALA about, there are very few
librarian Boy Scouts, why did the ALA concern it\'s self with this
when it has precious little time and money to even get the job
done for librarians?
ALA concerns itself with the issues of importance to its members.
These are represented through the Council of the Association. If
this was not an issue for some members it would not have been
discussed so extensively on the floor of Council.
When is ALA going to catch up with the rest of the
information profession and take the word "library" out
of its name? (Should be asked with a ;-) voice)
ALA is not about the information profession. ALA is about
libraries and librarians. There are other groups that serve the
information professions and some include the word libraries and
some do not. We need to be clear that we are proud of our
profession and the important role that it plays in the nation\'s
social, educational and economic life.
Ken Haycock ken.haycock at ubc.ca
(Email address broken up to hide it from spam-bots. -Blake)