Programming at AALL - How About A `Constructive` Discussion?

[Guest Blogger Mark Gediman]

There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding AALL committees, services and programs.  What seems to missing from some of this discussion is a desire to see constructive change.  In my mind, it isn't enough to identify a problem, you need to also show a desire to fix the problem.  The tone of this debate may be as important as the actual debate.

Anyone with kids knows that it isn't enough to point a finger at someone and say it's the other person's fault.  I know with my kids,  the one who says "no" to a suggestion without making one of their own automatically loses the debate.  In order for any discussion to succeed, it needs to be structured as a dialog, not a diatribe. Not doing so forces the singled out parties to be defensive and not willing to listen to what the other person has to say.  This does not allow for a constructive debate.  As someone who has contributed to the discussion, I can say from experience that you get further presenting your issue as a discussion.

AALL is an organization that is made up of different groups, and more importantly, individuals.  It can only evolve through the involvement of the individuals collaborating together for change.  I am proud to be a member of such a diverse organization that is made up of people that are genuinely committed to the growth of the profession.  They may stumble along the way, but it is our job as members to help them as they go along.  This is what makes the organization valuable to both the profession and its individual members.  So much for my two cents.

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Catherine Reach said...

I too have seen the discussions and you are absolutely right on target. I tell my team "don't come to me with problems, come to me with solutions". It is easier to criticize than create.

Caren said...


You state "...the one who says "no" to a suggestion without making one of their own automatically loses the debate."

Perhaps you missed the suggestions in "Of Leadership & Management Institute" where I said "Why not have this before or after AALL so no additional airfare is required? Why not offer grants for deserving individuals who would not be able to attend otherwise? Allow the individual SISs (Academic, Private and State, County and Court) to choose who attends and allow the number of slots in line with size so that fair representation is achieved. Individual SISs and chapters could also offer grants to those selected. Let's not waste a great opportunity."

Or in my post on SIS dues where I suggested SIS dues go 100% to the individual SIS instead of 50% to AALL and 50% to the SIS.

Or in my post on meetings to attend at the AALL Conference where I suggested at least six different meetings librarians could attend to contribute to the success of the conference.

Or my posts on programming where I suggested attending the PLL Summit which was a resounding success.

You may not like my writing style but to say I am not making constructive suggestions is, in my opinion, wrong.

Caren Biberman

Anonymous said...

I think it was more the barrage of attacks that came from LLB's newest contributor that surprised AALL members as well as the AALL leadership. Whenever you post one complaint after another, it gives you a Glenn Beckish look about whether you're really this upset about a range of things that AALL is doing, and basically accusing the leadership of being some type of evil entity that is looking to run the organization into the ground. I don't think the membership minds you bringing issues out to be discussed, but when you make claims that the organization purposely favors one SIS over another, without laying out all the details and nuances involved, then you can cause a backlash against you and your message. The constant emails promoting your blog entries to the listserves also seem more like grandstanding. Perhaps you should determine what issue it is that you think is most important and see if you can work with the leadership and membership to resolve that before moving on to the next three issues. Go have a talk with the AALL leadership and get you issues on their agenda rather than try to start a revolt through rethoric. Think solutions and conversation, not problems and diatribe.

Mark Gediman said...

Caren, I appreciate your remarks concerning this post. To clarify, my post was meant to address negative tone that has colored some recent discussions concerning AALL. While this post was not directed specifically at you, I did think some of the recent posts on LLB have contributed to this negative atmosphere. That is the reason for the link back to LLB.

As I mentioned above, I too have had some concerns and have expressed them on 3 Geeks. However, I used my postings as a springboard from which to launch the discussion into these topics at the Annual Meeting in Denver. I found that members of the Executive Board, committees and the membership as well as AALL staff to be extremely receptive and willing to have a constructive discussion of my topics of concern. This is the methodolgy I am suggesting by my post.


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