Gorman’s latest

I feel no obligation to comment on every issue related to Michael Gorman. The fact that we coauthored a book a decade ago is pretty much irrelevant to what’s happening in 2005. I was not part of his campaign committee this time around. I’m not part of his inner circle.

And I think it’s odd, maybe even ludicrous, to (a) call ALA a bunch of idiots because Gorman was elected president, (b) quit ALA because you disagree with one person who will be president next year, (c) impute the worst possible motives for every careless or badly-worded statement made. (I happen to like people who have taken each of those stances; different issue.)

At the same time, I’m not real thrilled about Gorman’s statements, either the latest or some of the earlier ones. I don’t think they reflect favorably on ALA. They certainly don’t represent my positions.

Too much is being written about this; that’s the nature of Net Media. I don’t intend to contribute a whole essay to that overcoverage.

For now, Sarah‘s brief commentary strikes me as pretty much on the money. (Not to say that others aren’t, but I’m not going on a linkfest here.)

3 Responses to “Gorman’s latest”

  1. As I rather strongly resemble category b), a couple of clarifications:

    Gorman couldn’t get me to quit by himself, though he came darned close. Gorman plus the lack of reaction from ALA proper and individual ALA members (especially those with clout) is what did it. I’m with you and Sarah that his motives don’t actually matter; what he said in the Chronk, whatever his motives, was flatly unacceptable and its unacceptability deserved attention. More attention than it’s getting, frankly, not less.

    What it comes down to for me is the best use of my money, time, and professional energy. I’m not an organizational mind; naive little bunny that I am, I expect organizations to be smoothly run such that the nuts and bolts of running them stays out of my way most of the time. I certainly don’t want to spend a great deal of my professional-development time with my eyes trained inward on the organization’s foibles rather than outward on the world.

    My experience with ALA — not just since the first Gormangate, but since I joined — amounts to a lot of “gah, how can they think/talk/behave like that?” navel-gazing. Even the ACRL conference involved much too much of that. So I’m going to try some other organizations, see if they fit my mental framework better.

    Maybe I’ll end up coming back to ALA. I doubt it. I honestly believe ASIST, the Association for Computing in the Humanities, and the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (to name three) genuinely are better-run and serve their members better, with less tsuris. And as I said on CavLec, there’s always stuff to be done at the state and local level (library associations in the DC area get a mite weird, so I’ll use “local” to describe them).

    Give Gorman a break. He isn’t causing the exodus (such as it is) all by himself. ALA’s got some organizational problems, and those are turning away more librarians than Gorman ever could. You may be less convinced of their severity than I, which is fine… but I notice that ALA is doing a membership demographic survey. I wonder if they’re wondering the same thing I’m wondering — whether all this silliness is causing ALA’s membership to tilt toward experienced librarians, as new librarians opt out. (Trying not to stereotype by age here. I’m a new librarian, but I’m not a spring chicken.)

    That, if true, ALA should be concerned about.

  2. I also, like Dorothea, resemble option b, but its certainly not Gorman alone who led me to decide to leave ALA.

    Quite simply, ALA as a library organization does not adequately service my needs as a special librarian; a simple glance through the workshops offered at both the Mid-Winter Meeting and the Annual Conference demonstrated that the focus of ALA is more closely aligned with academic and public librarianship. This is not new; SLA was formed in the early years of the 20th century for this very reason.

    I find Michael Gorman infuriating most of the time, and most of the time I’m sure that his intent is just that. I dislike the strategies he uses to make his points. I think he relies of offensive hyperbole, and any point he might make is lost in the furor he makes. But if I found ALA to be a useful, vital organization, the behavior of one person in the leadership would certainly not push me away.

  3. walt says:

    I’m inclined to agree that special librarians are better served by SLA than ALA. SLA is an interesting organization, one I’ve only encountered on the two occasions I spoke at it’s annual conference (which seems to be a collection of many different sectional conferences overlapping and competing–in some ways, an ALA in miniature).

    As for ASIST…well, if Dorothea likes it better than ALA, that’s her privilege, and maybe it’s changed for the better. I still hark back to the day when the president said that the problem with ASIST was that there were too many librarians among the membership…and to my own experiences in coping with ASIST conferences and the organization’s beneficence toward invited outside speakers. On the other hand, I used to love the local chapter. To each their own, as always.

    This is all a little odd: For many years, I was only an ALA member so I could be an ISAD, then LITA, member. That’s changed. My feelings about ALA continue to be complex.