ALA Chapter Councilor Update

Cassie Guthrie
ALA New York State Chapter Councilor 2019-2022


I attended my first ALA Council meetings as New York State Chapter Councilor in January. I found the experience fascinating, especially as I contrasted and compared it to the way NYLA’s governing body operates.

ALA Council is comprised of 175+ members and meets twice a year, over multiple days, at Midwinter Meetings (January) and Annual Conference (June). There are 100 councilors at large, 1 councilor from each of ALA’s 11 divisions and larger roundtables, and 57 state and regional chapter councilors. That’s A LOT of people with A LOT of different perspectives and priorities in the room. ALA’s parliamentarian has his work cut out for him!

One of the biggest topics of discussion was the recently released “Forward Together” report of the Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE). SCOE was appointed by past ALA President Jim Neal (a fellow New Yorker) in June 2018 to develop and recommend strategies and tactics to create an ALA with the agility to “respond to current challenges and opportunities, and to focus energy and resources on its mission and members in the decades to come.” The report is available at

The American Library Association was founded in 1876 and its governance structure hasn’t changed much in the ensuing 140+ years, except to become more complex. Some of the recommendations contained in the SCOE report have various stakeholders concerned, but all seem to acknowledge that a great deal of thought and due diligence went into the committee’s report.

I will keep you posted as there are further developments, especially those that may impact our state chapter. I will also continue to consider how governance adjustments at the national level might be applied at the state level and have the potential to inform how we can best conduct the business of the New York Library Association.