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Tracy Thompson-Pryzlucki sent the following letter to AALL members this morning to explain why she is supporting the changes in AALL Bylaws (PDF) that expand the definition of Active AALL members. I asked Tracy if I could repost her letter on 3 Geeks as a continuation of the conversation started last week with an open letter against the amendment. Although, I am a backer of the amendment, I do appreciate the membership’s ability to express their opinions and have an open discussion of both sides of the issue. I agree with Tracy in that the way our members work is changing, and AALL needs to be ahead of this change in order to make sure we do not lose members simply because we feared that two vendors might find a way to take over the association. I do understand that fear, but I don’t think that we can let a worst-case scenario cause us to become a more exclusive organization in a time where we need to become more inclusive. Of course, Tracy says it much more eloquently than I.

Voting starts today. AALL members should receive an email from the organization with instructions to vote. Regardless of if you vote yes or no, I encourage you to read the amendments, look at both sides and vote what you think is best for the association. – GL

Good morning!
I am so grateful to these members who are engaged enough in their association to get this conversation going! A bylaws change should get our attention and get us thinking about outcomes and consequences, intended or otherwise.

I have been giving a lot of thought to the bylaws change (as a member who may or may not be currently excluded from participation in the highest ranks of AALL) and in the end I am in favor of the amendment, and for reasons that I hope are not dismissed as self-serving. I should note however, that I am now and have always identified as an ‘active’ member. And even if the bylaws change is not approved I plan to continue to self-identify as an active member until I am officially notified that I am denied that status. The current bylaws language is subject to interpretation, and if pressed I suppose the case is easy for me to make, as I do physically “work in a library.” However, if NELLCO were to relocate to office space outside of the Albany Law Library, would I then be relegated to Associate Membership status? I don’t think that achieves any perceived goal.

Here are my reasons for supporting the bylaws change:
1) While I do understand the concern that big money vendors could ‘stack the deck,’ the likelihood of that happening, in light of (1) the nominations process and (2) the membership’s voting power, seems obscure.
2) The Members of AALL ARE AALL. If we find this does in fact lead us in the wrong direction, we can change it.
3) Vendors are now fully active in the association in every aspect except Board service, and many have volunteered their time and talents for years. AALL should be able to leverage that expertise and reward that commitment with Board service when it’s warranted.
4) Membership categories are self-selecting, and are not being actively policed by AALL. And who is the arbiter? There are too many what-ifs and no one to adjudicate and enforce.
5) I don’t think a handful of well-resourced people with ulterior motives, even if they were to collude, can overcome the morality of the individuals within the membership.

If the membership of AALL really thinks this proposed change poses a threat to the Association’s integrity, my suggestions would be either:

  1. try to describe the very narrow category of people you are trying to exclude and recommend a clause that would cover that instance or
  2. consider recommending the revival of an ethics committee within AALL as a more comprehensive solution to the kinds of concerns you are raising.

I look forward to this continued discussion.

Tracy L. Thompson-Przylucki, Executive Director
New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO)
Albany Law School
Schaffer Law Library