Ego Sum ALA!

April 7, 2006 at 2:48 am | Posted in APAL, libraries | 3 Comments

There is a long tradition of librarians who are unhappy with ALA (however, by long I mean for as long as I’ve been working in libraries, which is really only about 9 years), though lately I’ve seen dissatisfaction flourish more openly, amplified by blogs. The latest round of hostilities was caused by the suggestion on the part of ALA that retired librarians be part of a volunteer corps that will help fill staffing needs at underfunded libraries. I won’t go into all of the arguments as they are amply represented at What I do want to suggest is apostasy (hence the title of this post, a reference to Reformation-era Papal-bashing which should include an image here, but my old iBook is newly converted to Linux and I don’t know how to work GIMP yet).

Anyway, apostasy: why not form an organization for librarians? American Association for Public & Academic Librarians (AAPAL). Here’s how it might work:

  • an annual online conference with peer-reviewed conference presentations (this could grow into a non-virtual event if members wanted it)
  • monthly or quarterly open-access magazine
  • AAPAL website introduces people to librarianship and is also an outlet for white papers on pressing issues (job outlook, USA PATRIOT Act, etc.)
  • dues cover expenses incurred by web presence
  • committees: executive, publications, conference, mentoring/new librarians, policy, education, website …

There. Fairly simple, isn’t it? It’s just a matter of getting together a core group of 8-12 librarians who can formulate an organizational constitution and who might know another 8 or so librarians who might form the seed of the committees. The group can coalesce around the magazine, build a little word-of-mouth and grow from there.


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  1. Hmm, a most intriguing idea. I think these days the discontent about ALA is just louder due to ALA’s latest collection of, shall we call them mishaps to avoid using a less polite word? It is the American _Library_ Association, nothing to do with the actual professionals who work in those libraries. At any rate, I do find your idea intriguing and cannot help but wonder if it would not be too difficult to find the core of people you envision. I think I could certainly see myself joining such a concept. I think it is high time those of us who are not happy nail our 95 theses on ALA’s door, or better yet, just build something new.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

    P.S. Got here through after revisiting it prompted by LISNews (ok, so a bit convoluted).

  2. I’d certainly sign on. Necessary. Overdue, in fact.

  3. Well, there was a National Librarians Association. It didn’t fare very well. Doesn’t mean you couldn’t try again. I won’t join, of course, since I’m not a librarian… and since I do really value the face-to-face aspects of ALA.

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