whistleblowers

ALA Midwinter Day 5

Today’s Council meeting was the final one for Midwinter. We heard reports from the Executive Board election, Intellectual Freedom Committee, and the Committee on Legislation. The Intellectual Freedom Committee and Committee on Legislation presented two joint resolutions for Council’s vote. Committee on Legislation also presented a third resolution. In addition to the three resolutions and election results, the Awards Committee announced a new ALA award. Again, the information in this blog is my observations and are not the official minutes of ALA Council.

Executive Board Election Results

The following ALA Councilors were elected to the Executive Board:

Peter D. Hepburn (2014-2017)
Gail A. Schlachter (2014-2017)
Gina Persichini (2014-2017)
Mike L. Marlin (serving 5 month term through July 1, 2014)

Resolution on Expanding Federal Whistleblower Protections

Although related to the resolution on Edward Snowden that failed at Council II, this resolution (page 6) from the Intellectual Freedom Committee and Committee on Legislation passed after only momentary debate on minor wording changes.

Resolution on Curbing Government Surveillance and Restoring Civil Liberties

Originally submitted as a single resolution, the two resolved clauses in this resolution were divided to create two separate resolutions. The first part urges Congress and President Obama to pass and sign legislation that reflects the content of the USA FREEDOM Act as originally introduced. This Act would repeal many aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act. The second part commends the Congressmen, Congresswomen, and Senators who have sponsored the Act. The resolution as presented is included in the same document as the whistleblower resolution, page 4.

Resolution on Maintaining Government Websites During a Government Shutdown

The text of the the resolved clauses for this resolution is available here on page two. The resolution on maintaining government websites during a shutdown elicited the most debate of any resolution offered today. It began with an proposed amendment to remove the first resolved clause and the phrase “in the absence of such a guideline” from the second resolved clause. The concern was that these sections asked government employees to work without pay to maintain websites in the event of a shutdown or other emergency. The amendment was defeated after lively debate. Another amendment was proposed to add the word “paid” in the first resolved clause, which changed the wording to

urges the President to direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Department of Justice (DoJ) to develop guidance to federal agencies stating that, in the event of a government shutdown or other emergency, continued access by the public to essential information on agency websites is an “excepted” activity that would warrant the retention of PAID [emphasis mine] personnel or the obligation of funds to assure access;

The addition of the word “paid” to the resolution seemed to convince those of us who were on the fence about this resolution, and the resolution passed as amended.

New Lemony Snicket Award

Perhaps the most fun part of today’s meeting was the announcement of a new award funded by author Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler): The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. I encourage everyone to read the description of the award, as it provides some levity to some of the adverse situations librarians may face. The Executive Board had already voted to approve adding this award, and Council voted overwhelmingly in its favor.

ALA Midwinter Day 4

At last night’s Council Forum, I had the opportunity to find out more information about the resolutions that would appear before Council at today’s meeting. On the agenda were a resolution regarding improving member access to ALA Unit governing information, a resolution on whistleblower Edward Snowden, and a resolution to allow programs at ALA Midwinter Meeting. Here is a basic rundown of the three resolutions and the Council’s actions at today’s meeting. These are just my observations and should not be considered official minutes of the Council.

ALA Unit Governing Information

The basic idea behind this resolution is to make access to the minutes and actions taken by ALA Units more readily available. This would include ALA Divisions such as ACRL, ALCTS, YALSA, as well as ALA Round Tables. This would not include round tables and sub-units of the larger divisions and round tables. In some cases, divisions and round tables are already providing minutes and/or actions taken in a timely manner. The resolution really puts in to writing that this information should be available to the ALA membership in a timely and consistent manner. This resolution passed in this morning’s meeting. You can read the resolution here.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden

This topic was the most heavily debated at both the Council Forum yesterday evening and today at Council II. I am sure my fellow librarians in Kentucky are aware of the controversy over Mr. Snowden’s actions. The ALA Council did pass a resolution regarding whistleblowers at ALA Annual Conference last July. The text of the resolution is on page two of the linked document. Today’s resolution did not pass; some Councilors expressed the concern that events are still unfolding and a resolution recognizing Mr. Snowden may be premature.

Allowing Programs at Midwinter Meeting

For those who do not know, the ALA Midwinter Meeting does not include “programs” such as presentations or poster sessions. Historically, Midwinter has been used for Council, division, and round table meetings, as well as interest group discussions. While some would like to see more presentations, others in Council have argued that the better solution is to do away with Midwinter Meeting in favor of online meeting options. The current resolution had been given to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) and will not be voted on at this Midwinter.

As your Councilor, I would like to know how my fellow Kentucky librarians feel about these resolutions, in particular what your thoughts are regarding the expansion or dissolution of Midwinter. I will likely have more information on the Council’s actions concerning whistleblowers in tomorrow’s post, as there are related resolutions on the agenda.