Digital Culture Library Issues

ALA Presidential Hopefuls and YouTube

So the ALA is taking a hint from the US Presidential elections and taking questions from YouTube…with some caveats. Here’s the email that went out to ALA members:

Members Invited to Submit Questions to ALA Presidential Candidates via YouTube

Do you have a question you’re dying to ask the candidates for ALA President?  If you can’t attend the Presidential Candidates’ Forum at Midwinter, why not submit a question on YouTube?  It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s the new ALA way!

•       Questions should be submitted as videos and posted to YouTube
•       Maximum running time is 90 seconds
•       ALA members or groups of members may submit questions using your true name(s) (anonymous submissions will not be considered)
•       Video submissions must be tagged as ALAelection09 in order to be identified as questions for the ALA Presidential Candidates
•       Submissions accepted from Dec. 8 through Jan. 16

Six questions will be selected by a jury of past ALA presidents and presented to the candidates.  Candidates’ responses will be posted to YouTube and AL Focus prior to the opening of the ALA Election on Mar. 17.  The candidates for ALA President for the 2009 election are Kent Oliver and Roberta Stevens.  Questions will also be posed to any petition candidates.

For more details, go to

ALA is trying to get social media, but failing in significant ways. Why is it that only ALA Members can submit questions? The ONLY way that ALA is going to pull in the next generation of librarians is to show them that there is a benefit to joining…and withholding participation is so completely the wrong way to do it. The ALA should allow non-members to ask questions, in the same way they should start pushing conference content to non-members in a more robust way. Inviting virtual participation is a huge step…don’t screw up by limiting your audience, ALA. Change this requirement.

I also have a significant personal issue with requiring names to be attached to questions. The questions are being vetted anyway…what’s the harm in allowing anonymous questions? For a profession that holds privacy as high holy writ, to then disallow anonymous speech seems a bit hypocritical. The US Supreme Court has held that the right to free speech and the right to anonymous speech are the same…that “identification requirements burden speech”, as Talley v. California is sometimes expressed. I would love to see the ALA Board reconsider this requirement as well.

13 replies on “ALA Presidential Hopefuls and YouTube”

While I can understand the need to vet the questions and the need to answer a small number of potential questions, I hope the candidates will view as many as possible and consider posting video statements that address those that truly resonate with them.

And as a non-member of ALA, I do applaud this effort, but hope they recognize ways that this effort could be improved.

This went out to all ALA members? Really? Apparently I don’t count then (though I did recently get a reminder to renew my membership, so nice of them).

I’ll have to re-read this a couple of times before I can comment on what they’re doing – my initial reaction was to get angry that they’re not necessarily sending to everyone – did it maybe just go to LITA folks?

I almost hoped I’d see someone mention that their library still blocks staff member YouTube access…but perhaps only a few of us continue to be relegated to Big Brother/Sister’s suppressions. Like in N. Korea.

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