Walt mentioned a piece on Library Juice and I think it just demonstrates the insanity of the ALA. The way the organization is run is laughable and their denial of reality amazes me.
On April 12th the ALA honored Laura Bush for her contribution to libraries. She was given, at a public ceremony in Washington, DCâ€™s ML King Public Library what the ALA website calls a citation and a gift of award winning childrenâ€™s book. The ALA home page with the article about the honor is here . Iâ€™m not so sure how long it will last so let me quote the news item (available here. )
The American Library Association today honored Mrs. Laura Bush for her years of support to America's libraries and librarians at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library in downtown Washington, D.C. ALA Immediate Past President Carla Hayden presented Mrs. Bush with a citation and a gift of Kira-Kira and Kitten's First Full Moon, the 2005 winners of the Newbery and Caldecott medals, respectively.
"Mrs. Bush has been a tireless supporter of libraries and library workers during her tenure in the White House," said Carol Brey-Casiano, president of the American Library Association and director of the El Paso Public Library in El Paso, Texas. "She has been an exemplary role model to women and men considering the profession of librarianship, and she has been a consistent advocate for the importance of reading since her days in the Texas Governor's mansion. Librarians and library users everywhere owe her thanks," she continued.
In 2002, Mrs. Bush hosted the White House Conference on School Libraries, an event that highlighted the power of school libraries to make a difference in student achievement. In 2003, Mrs. Bush was a guiding force behind "Recruitment of Librarians for the 21st Century," legislation designed to help attract and retain librarians.
What I find really amazing is a posting reproduced in the LJ article from the Executive Director of the ALA Keith Michael Fiels. He insists that Mrs. Bush did not receive an ALA award.
How can he possibly defend that statement when a news release about it is right on the ALAâ€™s front page. More amazing is that immediately after stating that Mrs. Bush was not honored he states why she was honored:
My understanding is that these were presented in appreciation
for her support for the importance of reading, libraries (and school
libraries in particular), federal funding for libraries and federal
funding for recruitment and scholarships, including a grant to ALA which
will increase diversity in the profession.
And Sandy Berger didnâ€™t put documents in his socks!
What is even more entertaining is that there are so many people opposed to the current administration that they would deny that Mrs. Bush has been a champion for libraries. The discussion degrades into a semantic dance about the meaning of honor and award and who can bestow what plaudits. Even more absurd is the discussion on the use of Mrs. Laura Bush as opposed to simply Laura Bush. (If her husband were dead it would be Mrs. Laura Bush, now it is Mrs. George Bush according to Emily Post. Using Mrs. Laura Bush is probably wishful thinking on a great part of the ALA membership.)
This may be an appropriate time to share my view of the ALA. The ALA is a political action committee (albeit a very ineffective one). The ALA is ostensibly run by its elected officers and the council, but if you read the Constitution and Bylaws carefully you will see that there are little duties of the council except to meet. There is no requirement that they actually do anything. I really fail to see what the ALA accomplishes that could not be accomplished over coffee with a few bright librarians.
The committees, round tables and other such cliques are simply echo chambers for the various political leanings of their members. The Accreditation committee has failed to enforce rigorous standards on any of the dwindling number of library schools in the nation. I have a hat that could get an MLS at my closest library school. The Advisory committee advises (another coffee klatch), there is even a Committee on Committees, Holy Lord how could someone outside of government service have come up with that.
The round tables which could really do some good work for libraries and librarians if they managed to make a little time to discuss them rather than worrying about social responsibility or torture or any of the other nonsense they debate that is not library related.
Enough ALA bashing though, it does some things well. It produces many good publications for librarians. It employs a number of people in the Chicagoland area thus boosting the economy and it fills conference space. Too bad it is not a better advocate for the profession and the professionals it claims to serve.