On ALA 2.0

I’m serving on the ALA Participation Task Force this year. President Leslie Burger established the ALA Participation Task Force “to develop recommendations for expanding member opportunities, especially for the for the next generation of leaders, to participate in their association in meaningful ways,” according to the document Jim Rettig sent this summer. I just heard that Jim is a candidate for vice-president/president-elect and if elected he will serve as VP in 2007-08 and President in 2008-09. Woohoo!

Jim asked the group to envision “ALA 2.0” and asked for submissions by today.

Jim put his up at his blog: http://keillor.richmond.edu/blojsom/blog/jrettig/American+Library+Association/?permalink=font-face-Arial-Helvetica-sans-serif-size-2-ALA-2-0-font.html

Below is my response, and of course, like many blog posts, it’s a work in progress and written as such.

On ALA 2.0

Is ALA ready to open their data, tap into the collective intelligence of their 60,000 + members and create rich user experiences for members online and at conferences? I think so and I believe it?s important. As evidenced by the projects created by the ALA L2 teams in the summer of 2006, ALA staff and members realize the benefit of the Read/Write organization and created some innovative scenarios regarding Web 2.0. For new members, millennial librarians and those new to the profession, this shift is imperative. When a quickly-formed group of plugged in librarians can convene online so easily between free tools such as Facebook, a wiki, a blog and chat tools such as IM to create knowledge, hold a conference or make a decision, we must offer similar experiences and affordances to our new members.

The 57% of millennials Pew reported who have created content for the web – blog posts, podcasts, videos, mashups and more – are also entering library school. LIS education must provide ways for them to collaborate, share their voices and connect with the profession at large instead of shielding them from the real world of library school, and so should the organization. Student members, new grads, and first time joining seasoned professionals should find the same flattened, collaborative organization that many folks are coming to expect in this age of “living on the Web.” Council meetings could be live blogged, with comments active. A Facebook-like site would allow opt in to whatever level a member wanted to choose ? how far they might ?put themselves out there.?

How do we achieve ALA 2.0?

Knock Down the Silos

Divisions and units should engage in active, collaborative conversation across the organization. Best practices and success stories (as well as the failures we sometimes don?t like to talk about) of the first forays into social software are a good place to start. What have the folks at LITA learned about blogging that might help the newly launched RUSQ blog, and vice versa? Internet citizens, many our members, expect a seamless Web experience. Are the transitions between divisions seamless online as a new member surfs various pages to find out which to join? Is your division sadly behind the times? Are you blogging yet or still mired in discussions of “what if someone COMMENTS on a post??”

Engage Me, Inspire Me, Change Me

ALA 2.0 should give new members ways to feel connected to the bigger organization. Engaging interaction while planning for a conference trip, an accessible IM presence to ask that quick question about membership, dues or travel, or a way to “find others like me” to make connections before annual are all ways a new member might be engaged online. These ideas can carry to Annual as well: use technology to add a layer of information (SMS alerts for example) and make it fun. How about a download kiosk where I might Bluetooth needed schedules to my phone or PDA. How about ubiquitous wifi?

At the SLJ Leadership Summi, a post it note went up on the whiteboard: Trust drives change. This is key thinking in a social world. How can the association create trust? What tools can we use? What conversations should we have in open forums? How should we respond to criticism? How do we listen to our members and act quickly to make things better? Transparency breeds honesty as well.

Be Nimble, Be Quick

At PLA 2004, there was not a mention of blogs in any of the technology sessions I attended, when conferences such as Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian had featured sessions devoted to the tool in 2002, 2003 and 2004. New members may not want to wait when technology blogs, online resources and virtual communities can inform now.

ALA 2.0 would tap into the new membership to plan and present “What’s Hot in Technology” sessions at conference in a more timely, nimble fashion. A new member, fresh from graduate school, might have the option to spend some time early on in their membership contributing to this program. Seasoned technologists in the field might assist and guide, sharing knowledge and experience. They’d meet on a level playground and learn from each other.

Technological change is coming too quick for us to meet for a year to plan a new Web site or committee response. Adapting to a world of easily used online tools, a mindset of sharing and contributions from all, and breaking down the barriers between members, staff and governance to open up conversation will lead the association toward success in a this age of continuous computing and social machines.