The recent renaming debacle got me thinking about ways and means to raise rank-and-file member participation for the purpose of improving our association’s transparency and accountability in the conduct of association business by the Executive Board. Some easily doable reforms for increasing association transparency by encouraging direct member involvement could be:
- Allowing rank-and-file members to participate in Executive Board meetings by asking questions and offering comments;
- Scheduling the summer Executive Board meeting during the annual conference, not days before it, so rank-and-file members can attend in person;
- Broadcasting all board meetings with a feedback loop so that members in the audience can ask questions and offer comments and a moderator can contribute selected questions and comments to the Board’s discussion; and
- Conducting pre-election virtual town hall meetings for nominated candidates standing for election to the Board so that members can solicit answers to questions they have submitted.
Some structural reforms requiring bylaw changes to provide for enhanced association accountability by increasing member participation could be:
- Restructuring the Executive Board to automatically include the elected chairs of the academic, government and private law libraries SISs as voting members;
- Replacing the Nominations Committee with a Nominations Caucus open to all interested AALL members; and
- Including “none of the above” in the ballot for the election of VP-President Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and at-large board members.
Increasing the opportunities for rank-and-file member involvement through a more bottom-up approach to conducting association business as outlined in the above suggestions may motivate more AALL members to become active contributors to our association’s affairs. AALL’s official business would become more relevant, more transparent, and more accountable, if members were more directly engaged in the selection of candidates to national office and in the Executive Board’s conduct of association business. — Joe