What does it say when only five percent of a population has a voice in how that population is governed and in how that population presents itself to the rest of the word? It says something is broken, that power is unfairly distributed, that people feel silenced.
There are about 194,000 working librarians. In the last ALA election, 10,656 people voted—5.49% of the working librarians in the United States.
Of the 50,697 eligible voters, those who are fortunate enough to have the means to support an ALA membership and the belief that ALA can represent their interests adequately, only 21% of us actually voted. As a profession, we are disenfranchised. Collectively, we do not see value in ALA. About 95% of us do not see a point in voting in its elections.
Too many Council members fail to recognize the scope of the problem, and others believe the problem cannot be solved. As one of the founders of “In the Library with the Lead Pipe,“ a journal that has become a leading voice in our profession precisely because we are dedicated to identifying problems and arguing for solutions, I have helped demonstrate that librarians are eager to address seemingly intractable issues. As the co-chair of Library Pipeline, I am helping to create an organization that empowers us to work together to solve problems.
I also have a record of taking on power imbalances within ALA. As chair of ALA’s Future Perfect Presidential Task Force, I stood in front of ALA Council and recommended that Council voluntarily reduce its size. Having to choose among 70 candidates for Council every election makes voting too cumbersome for ALA members, and a Council with almost 200 members cannot move quickly on issues that matter. More recently, as an incoming member of ALA’s Council on Organizations, appointed by ALA President-elect Julie Todaro, I have been tasked with offering advice and assistance on “structural and organizational concerns in ALA.”
I am dedicated to changing ALA from within, to helping transform it into an association in which our participation is necessary and valued. If you believe that ALA should include and represent all library workers, I urge you to vote for me.
(The election is opens on 21 April 2016, and eligible NJLA voters have until 9 May 2016 11:59 p.m. to cast their ballot.)