LITA members: This is your board. Do you want to see the sausage-making?
On July 3, I created an online document in the LITA Board’s (ALA) Connect space titled ”What sort of Connect posts should be closed?” This really got me thinking about my perspective on transparency, and the discussions that I have been having with the LITA board, with friends and with co-workers on the topic. (NB: I wrote almost all of the post below the same afternoon as the Connect post, but before the ensuing comments were left there.)
If you are a member of LITA, you will receive a quarterly email from LITA’s Executive Director, Mary Taylor. Each “Member Update” ends with encouragement to connect with LITA in various ways, one of which is to reach out to the leadership, anytime. Log into the LITA website with your ALA credentials to view contact information for all of us. Before I delve into Board stuff, I should explain that Mary is an employee of ALA, but the Board members are not. A Vice-President/President-Elect and two or three At-Large Board members are elected each year by the LITA membership (did YOU vote, hm??). We each have our own day jobs, and many of us are involved in other ALA Divisions as well. We are your volunteer leadership, and are not ALA employees. ALA provides three full-time staff to conduct the business of the organization–managing the budget, paying for speakers and teachers, working with Conference Services, coordinating online education, and probably lots of things that I’m forgetting to list here. Their duties also include reaching out to members, hence the aforementioned Member Updates.
So, here is your Board (photo taken at the 2012 Midwinter meeting in Dallas) :
By the way, until that photo is updated, here is a list of who’s in it:
Front, L to R: me (now VP, eeek), Adriene Lim (Councillor), Zoe Stewart-Marshall (President), Colleen Cuddy (Past President), Karen Starr (now past-past president), Mary Taylor (LITA staff).
Back, L to R: Maurice York (former board member), Aaron Dobbs (former board member), Dale Poulter (Parliamentarian), Jason Griffey (Board member at-large), David Lee King (Board member at large), John Blyberg (Board member at large).
Before you ask, the photographer posed us, and we stayed there, like gender-segregated sheep.
If you have followed #litabd activity on Twitter and on our ALA Connect group, you’ll know that we have talked a great deal about transparency, how transparency relates to privacy, and how it relates to what current President Zoe Stewart-Marshall (or was it Ranti Junus?) termed the “sausage-making” phase of discussions. If you have listened to any of the streamed governance meetings, you’ll know that there are differing opinions, and that sometimes those differences are in stark contrast to one another.
I want to explore this “sausage-making” idea a bit more. The reference is pretty obvious: those who consume sausage probably do not want to see it made. I’m definitely on board with that. To extend the reference into the arena of ideas, setting an idea loose before it’s fully vetted and fleshed out can result in setting expectations that later go unmet, as an idea evolves from its nascent stage to its completed iteration. Which, if one is in the healthcare industry or conducting a war, could be a very bad thing.
The concept opposite to keeping one’s sausage-making under wraps is transparency, and on paper, the LITA board embraces transparency. In March 2007, Clive Thompson wrote an article in Wired Magazine about transparency, titled “The See-Through CEO.” One paragraph in particular struck a chord with me, so much so that I remember it more than five years later:
“Some of this isn’t even about business; it’s a cultural shift, a redrawing of the lines between what’s private and what’s public. A generation has grown up blogging, posting a daily phonecam picture on Flickr and listing its geographic position in real time on Dodgeball [now 4Square] and Google Maps. For them, authenticity comes from online exposure. It’s hard to trust anyone who doesn’t list their dreams and fears on Facebook.” [emphasis mine]
This is the point-of-view from which I operate, as a librarian, as a photographer, mom, friend, partner, and yes, LITA Board member. Let me be clear–I am not speaking for anyone but myself here, and I am certainly not speaking for the Board as a whole, nor as The Voice of LITA. I use Twitter, flickr, instagram and Facebook to connect with my professional and personal friends. I use these same tools to reach out to LITA members before, during, and after Board meetings, to ask them (YOU) questions about the organization and to put the word out about LITA goings-on. As far as I know, my doing so has not caused harm to anyone; in fact, participating online has garnered great member feedback during meetings and programs. We ask and at least two or three of you answer! (ha ha)
You might have guessed by now that one of the initiatives that I will continue to work on is transparency, this year as LITA Vice-President, and next year, as President. For this year, that means bringing transparency to the committee appointment process. There are a LOT of committees and representative slots to fill that begin July 1, 2013, and it’s the VP’s job to fill them all. It’s my hope that doing this as transparently as possible (working within the privacy caveat and ALA guidelines, lest some of you readers are nervous… ) will get more of you engaged in and excited about the organization that we hold dear.
What do YOU think about transparency? I have heard LITA members say that they want to know what the Board is doing, but how much is too much? How much is enough?