I have a few questions to ask AALL members that are inspired by both the SLA project I wrote about yesterday, and from Joe Hodnicki’s post on New Year’s Day that takes AALL to task about using blogs to get information out more quickly to its membership. Hodnicki specifically focuses on the Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) and the Executive Board – which I will join as a member in July. I’ll point out a couple of issues that he makes, but I encourage all AALL members to read Joe’s post, and contact me directly on what you think AALL and/or CRIV should do to better serve the membership of the organization.

Here’s a snippet of what Joe thinks about why AALL has “failed” in using blogs as a method of consumer advocacy:

It is a fair assessment to characterize 2010 as the year AALL failed to use the blogging platform for consumer advocacy after the example set by many law librarians in this web space, as if an example even needed to be set.
… the only reasons I am left thinking that AALL officialdom does not want to or has no intention of creating a “home base” for the vendor-buyer relationship in the blogpshere must be because either (1) they simply do not want to frankly address these matters which are important to the membership or (2) their inability to produce substantial results behind closed doors will come to light by addressing them publicly when no response is forthcoming from vendors.

And here’s what Joe thinks a “CRIV-Unleashed” Blog could accomplish:

CRIV is sufficiently large in membership and stable in the duration of membership terms to keep a Vendor Relations group blog going as a long term collaborative effort informed by the opinions of many, not one. Of course, it needs to been more representative of all major market segments. Assuming that, if CRIV-Unleashed regularly publishing content that matters to institutional buyers in a timely manner is the objective, it will acquire an audience and will become a “home base.”
… Our major vendors will read a CRIV-Unleashed blog. Perhaps vendors should be invited to guest write posts on topics CRIV requests them to address. Most vendors have an official policy of not commenting to individual blog posts directly very often. Perhaps they will after too many “vendor X could not be reached or refused to comment” when queried about the topic of this post before its publication.

Now one of the things that I think that even Joe would have to admit is that logistically, it is pretty easy for an individual to snap off a blog post about a current event… it probably isn’t quite a simple for a representative body like CRIV, or whoever talks for “AALL” as a member organization. However, this doesn’t mean it is impossible to do. For example, CRIV puts out the CRIV Sheets on a monthly basis. Could that be changed to a blog format that would allow for faster dissemination of information, along with a comments section that the members could use to ask questions or give their own testimony on an issue? The AALL President releases a monthly email to the membership. Could that be expanded to a blog format as well? Should AALL have a blog similar to the SLA Future Ready 365 blog, that could work as a platform that the members could use to discuss a topic of interest to the organization?

Here are the questions:

  • What are your thoughts on a member-organization like AALL using the blog format to disseminate information, solicit feedback, or be used to enable group discussion of a topic? 
  • Would the Executive Board, or AALL Administrative Staff, or special groups like CRIV use of blog platforms be something that would interest the membership? 
  • Would you read these blogs? 
  • Would you comment on these blogs? 
  • Would you contribute and write on these blogs?

Let me know what you think.