Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The ALA Alienates Librarians Because It is Politicized, Elitist, Group Think Oriented, Not Very Professional, and Generally Does Not Serve the Needs of Librarians

The American Library Association [ALA] alienates librarians.  A fed up librarian points out the ALA is politicized, elitist, group think oriented, not very professional, and generally does not serve the needs of librarians.  He claims many librarians feel the same way.  He even suggests the ALA should be shut down.  See: "No, I Am Not Paying ALA Dues...And Here's Why," by Dances With Books, Dances With Books, 22 November 2010.

Here are excerpts:

I am not happy with a lot of the politics in the U.S.; I just don't think ALA committees are the place for them when there are a lot of more important issues affecting librarians directly.
....
I would say the problem is not in the librarians; it is in the organization.  It is time to ask what it is the organization is failing to do and either fix it or just shut it down if it is not meeting the needs of those it claims to serve.  And I do question that claim of service.  After all, it is the American LIBRARY Association, not American LIBRARIAN Association.  I do think that is a bit revealing.
....
While ideally I would like to share experiences, scholarship, and reflection with other librarians, I have found the venues and forums for such to be limited by either elitism and group think (i.e., if you are not part of the group, and you say the wrong thing, we'll bury you) or financial constraints (oh, you mean you can't make it to Annual and you are NOT a new librarian?  Too bad.  We can't help you.  And by the way, I recently saw someone in a forum ask just that question, why can't a mid-career librarian who may be needy get a little help now and then?  You don't want to know the answers they got.  Let's just say they were not very professional.  Not exactly a good impression to get me to join up if that is how they treat their own).
....
If ALA needs something to do, maybe working for [better wages] in some aggressive terms other than "we think it would be nice if you paid librarians more, but we are not going to raise a fuss about it" would be useful. 

I am not naive, but I am certainly disappointed.  Those in the national organization more often than not do more to alienate your average librarian than they realize.  At any rate, I am not renewing (or signing up again) membership with ALA.  I don't need pie in the sky.  I need something practical.  They are not providing it.  If that means I am "thinking like a consumer," well, too bad.  Until the day ALA somehow manages to force every librarian to join the collective, not paying is my way of saying I don't like how things work.

Fair notice: I was once an ALA member.  I did not renew because I could not afford it.  Also, I paid to attend ALA training but was rejected three times despite the law and the irony.

Do you feel the same way as Dances With Books?  Please comment below.  Anonymous comments are welcome, as always (unlike on an ALA blog).


NOTE ADDED 5 MARCH 2011:

Let me add an ALA source wherein the anti-ALA comments exemplify the above, and I will republish below the comments therein, in case the ALA removes them.  It's a shame the multiple "Anonymous" librarians are too afraid to leave their actual names.  Telling, isn't it?

From "American Library Association President Roberta Stevens on Proposed Collective Bargaining Legislation," by Macey Morales, American Library Association, 24 February 2011:

Rightfully yours to speak to?

Is the ALA a union leader for all of its members?  Please remember ALA that you also speak for non-school librarians, who do not wish to be dumped into the same political fracas as the afflicted in Wisconsin.  Not to downplay their situation, but just to remind that there are many librarians who may not be pro-collective bargaining.

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