Exciting news folks – nominations are now open for the ALIA Board of Directors! Yeah, I know, you’ve been waiting for this.
The fact is, this year notwithstanding, this is an event that has not traditionally attracted much excitement. Outside of ALIA, that’s cool, but inside the ALIA membership it should be a big deal. Ideally members would be eager to stand for these roles, and other members would place high standards on those that nominate, seeking information about their agenda and approach, in order to make an informed vote.
This isn’t the case, and it’s not going to become the case overnight. I know why most people ignore this – there’s a lack of understanding about what the board does, people are pressed for time just managing their own lives let alone someone else’s company, and even if you could find the time, why spend it on this? The responsibility for changing these attitudes rests with the board itself, and past directors, who are the people who can build understanding of what the board does and what the rewards are.
So I’m going to try and do my part. First up, I would encourage all members to consider running. While it’s not an easy job, it is something that is within the reach of most people. Diversity on the board is healthy, so please don’t rule out running just because you’re young/old/in a rural area/working in a small corner of library land/have strange hair/never done this before. Start with the assumption that you can do it.
Being on the Board means attending meetings – in person and by teleconference – but it also means lots of other stuff. In the six months I’ve been on the board these are the things I’ve been involved in:
- Determining the strategic plan for 2014 (with the awareness that the current overall plan ends in 2015)
- Revising the constitution, making recommendations for changes, to put to the membership for a vote
- Revising the by laws, making recommendations for changes following the review of the constitution
- Guiding ALIA’s approach to large advocacy campaigns, such as federal elections
- Financial oversight, including reviewing monthly budget reports and the overall organisational budget
- Reviewing the structure of advisory committees, developing a relationship with assigned committees
- Working on ALIA’s projects, such as the future of the profession or ebooks and elending
- Reading monthly membership reports, including recruitment strategies
- Contributing to the ALIA member survey, including reviewing detailed results
- Reviewing the performance of the executive director
- Representing ALIA at events (such as other association conferences, the ALIA National Advisory Congress, and on external committees)
- Responding to member inquiries and feedback
- Providing advice to the executive director as required
Does any of that sound interesting to you? Do you think you could do that better than the current board? Time to put your money where your mouth is!
Why bother? Well, I find being on the board rewarding. I’m learning so much about all aspects of our profession, as well as lots about how an organisation runs. I’m a bit of a corporate governance wonk – I find the processes and procedures involved really interesting. I like feeling as though I can be a part of making ALIA stronger, either through providing direction or through my own actions (i.e. holding myself accountable to members, advocating for members’ interests). I’m working with a team of people that I have a lot of respect for, and am learning a lot from them. The things I’m learning and involved in go way beyond what I get to do in my paid job. Being on the board has expanded my experience and my perception of my work.
There are a few things that you’ll need to know before you nominate. First up, you’ve got to be an ALIA member, so if you’ve let your membership lapse you’ll need to get that renewed before you nominate. It’s also important that you have your employer’s support. Most of the teleconferences happen during work time, and there are occasional issues that arise that require a quick response. If you’re not allowed to use any work time for ALIA activities you’ll find it very hard. Some board members, myself included, have come to compromise agreements with their employers about the amount of work time used. Travel costs are covered for board activities, but you’re not paid for the work. It’s a volunteer position.
Before you nominate make sure you understand the legal obligations you’ll be under. I’d recommend reading ALIA’s constitution thoroughly, and the by-laws, and some general information about board governance. ALIA is a not for profit company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act, and directors are subject to the various liabilities outlined in the act (although we do hold directors’ insurance). This is a good resource. I don’t mean to scare you, but corporate governance is not usually taught in library school, so you’ll need to educate yourself on this.
Finally, I’m very happy to answer any questions. Please consider nominating. This is a big election – five positions up for grabs – and the easiest way to ensure that the people that get those positions are the best people is to have some choice.