Engaging Members, Charting the Future of Midwinter
By Keith Michael Fiels
Mon, 01/31/2011 - 14:25
Executive Board tackles business during Midwinter Meeting
ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels
ALA Executive Board meetings in San Diego focused on how to engage younger members, the ALA Membership Meeting, and the Midwinter Meeting itself.
At the top of the list was a report from the Young Professionals Task Force, chaired by Laurel Bliss. The task force has been reaching out to younger members and is working on a series of recommendations on how the Association can best engage young professionals. Subgroups are specifically looking at membership, conferences, divisions and round tables, library schools, and elections. Established last year by 2009–2010 President Camila Alire, the task force was charged with looking at how ALA can engage young professionals and newer members. This is particularly important because member engagement is one of the five goal areas in the Association’s new 2015 strategic plan. This goal includes:
- Increasing innovation and experimentation in the creation of new opportunities for face-to-face and virtual engagement.
- Identifying and eliminating barriers to participation.
- Developing new models to acknowledge member contributions in a changing environment.
- Continued enhancement of ALA’s web presence to engage members and the public.
Given the opportunities presented by new communication and social networking tools, we’re starting to think about a future association (and not the distant future) where 80%, 90%, or even a 100% of all members are engaged and benefit from the Association on a daily basis.
A good deal of discussion focused on the White Paper on the Future of the Midwinter Meeting, which looks at the Midwinter Meeting and how it will change as more and more Association business can be conducted electronically. The paper cites the steady growth in attendance over the last decades. It acknowledges the growth of hundreds of grassroots discussion groups as a major focus of activity in addition to committee meetings, and emphasizes the value of Midwinter in making the conference and exhibits experience available to regional audiences. The paper concludes that Midwinter continues to serve the Association and its members well even as face-to-face committee meetings no longer serve as Midwinter’s sole focus.
Groups at Midwinter were generally supportive of the concepts in the paper, and many offered additional comments, suggestions, and/or areas for further exploration. A follow-up paper incorporating these suggestions and discussing next steps will be circulated this spring, once we’ve heard from everyone who is interested in commenting.
The board also approved some changes in the skeleton schedule for Annual Conference. This year, we will hold a single Membership Meeting in New Orleans, June 25 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. In addition to this face-to-face Membership Meeting at Annual, a second virtual Membership Meeting will be held in May or June. The Committee on Membership Meetings is working on planning the virtual meeting and is currently surveying ALA members to find out what date and time will work best for them. We’ll keep you apprised as plans are set for this first-ever virtual Membership Meeting.
Corporate sponsorships and corporate support are important to the Association and its work, and ALA is interested in working with companies that share our values. To this end, the board reviewed a list of socially responsible companies as potential prospects for the coming year. Each year, the board approves approximately 1,000 companies listed in the Domini and TIAA-CREF portfolios of “Socially Responsible Companies” as potential corporate partners, sponsors, and donors.
For more information on board discussions, the White Paper on the Future of the Midwinter Meeting, the Young Professionals Task Force, and other fast-breaking issues at ALA, visit ala.org.