By Brenda Bailey-Hainer, ASCLA President

Everywhere you turn, there is news of change. Many of our home organizations
have had to take a hard look at the way we do business and serve our clientele, as well as devise new ways to do it more cheaply. Jeff Jarvis, on his Buzz Machine blog, speculates that we are experiencing neither a recession nor a depression, but rather a compression.  This great restructuring of the economy and society, as he also calls it, is simply a shrinking of the exuberance many sectors of the U.S. felt in the late 1990s.

Librarianship also was part of that exuberance. Access to resources, while not unlimited, left many of us feeling comfortably rich. Staffing was adequate.  We had ample time and funding to attend conferences, serve on many committees, hold office, and respond leisurely with group decisions spread out over many months.

The ASCLA Bylaws were last updated in 1999. A lot has changed since then—in the greater library community, amongst the clientele we serve, in the way our home organizations do business, and in the technology available to us. Travel to conferences is no longer a given in these difficult economic times. Staffing cuts have made our effective use of time even more critical.  

Life within ASCLA’s home organization—ALA—has changed as well. The ALA website has been completely overhauled. ALA Connect is now available to us as a tool to keep in touch with members and key issues facing the profession.  Some divisions, such as PLA, have already made dramatic changes to their organizational structure and several others have change in the works. 

In the last issue of Interface, past President Carol Desch wrote about the results of ASCLA’s Leadership session held during ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver in January 2009.  At the session, ASCLA’s leadership identified a number of key trends in four broad areas as needs in the library field:

  • increased need for highly skilled library staff and consultants;
  • new organizational models being implemented;            
  • growing demands for library services and collections
  • challenges of keeping pace with new technologies

Perhaps, like the U.S. economy and society, it’s time for some compression within ASCLA’s structure. During the coming year the ASCLA Planning and Budget Committee, under the leadership of Past-President Carol Desch and President-Elect Diana Reese, will be taking a closer look at the results from that Leadership session.  Additional information will be gathered that will be used to create a proposal for potentially changing ASCLA’s structure. Any discussion of change will take place with the entire ASCLA community.

How can we streamline decision-making and speed up the incorporation of new ideas into the division? Do you have any ideas on how ASCLA could be restructured to become more agile and better able to serve its members? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me at