August 18, 2010
Results of Law Librarian Blog SIS Fees Poll
We asked law librarians to weigh in on two questions with regard to Special Interest Section (SIS) fees.
1. Who should have the authority to increase SIS fees?
We had three answers to choose from and a total of 352 people weighed in on this question.
20% of the people answering said that the AALL Executive Board should continue to have the authority to increase SIS fees without the approval of members.
21% percent of the people answering said that a simple voting majority of AALL members as a whole should decide whether SIS fees should increase.
59% percent of the people answering said that whether to increase SIS fees should be left up to a vote of the individual SIS membership (by a simple voting majority).
2. To whom should your SIS fees go?
We had three answers to choose from and a total of 333 people weighed in on this question.
22% percent said that the status quo should remain with 50% going to AALL and 50% going to the SIS.
44% percent said that the amount going to the SIS should be increased to 80% and only 20% should go to AALL.
34% percent said the entire amount of the SIS fees should go to the SIS.
A few caveats first. I recognize that this is not a scientific poll and that we only had between 333 to 352 people answering each question. (Poll results displayed below) However, this is one of the largest responses the Law Librarian Blog has ever had to a poll so its clear that this issue resonates with its readers. Two, to those that would say this poll is without meaning I point to the AALL poll which, in part, led to the creation of the vendor liasion position. That poll had approximately 465 people responding.
As to the breakdown of the people responding. 31% percent said they were members of the Academic SIS. 16% percent said they were members of the State, County and Court SIS. And 51% percent said they were a member of the private law librarians SIS. When you look at the SIS membership figures the percentage of State, County and Court members responding is proportionate to their membership as compared to the other two SIS. However, as between the Academics and Private Law librarians the response rate is disproportionate. Approximately 9% more Academics should have responded and 9% less Private Law librarians should have responded.
So what does this tell us?
First, as to the breakdown I think it makes it crystal clear that this is a very important issue to private law librarians. Perhaps because some feel a disconnect between themselves and AALL and that their issues are not being addressed, Perhaps because PLL felt the need to do a pre-conference Summit in order to provide the type of programming needed by its members and had to charge $195 for librarians to attend. That is not to say that this issue wasn't important to state, county and court librarians (a proportionate number answered). Nor to say this issue isn't important to Academics (perhaps here it was the timing of the poll being in the summer when many are on vacation).
The poll indicates that a clear majority believe each SIS should determine whether its own fees should be increased by a simple voting majority of its members. There are issues with each SIS determining its own increases, I do recognize that and I invite readers to weigh in. But based on the poll results I do think its clear that SIS fees should not be raised by the AALL Executive Board without some form of member approval.
As to where the SIS fees should go? Only twenty two percent think the status quo is okay. So I think a clear indication that something needs to change. Thirty four percent say it should all go the SIS and forty four percent say it should go 80% to the SIS and 20% to AALL. I happen to think 80-20% is a reasonable compromise. It gives AALL something towards its administrative expenses in collecting the fees and other things it does on behalf of the SIS but still gives the SIS more dollars to be used for programming, grants, scholarships etc.
So where do we go from here?
I think a bylaw amendment proposal is in order. For those that feel change is necessary this gives you the opportunity to vote to effectuate that change. For those that feel no change is needed this also gives you the opportunity to vote against change.
I plan on drafting a petition for bylaw amendments.to be voted on by distributed ballot. In order for that to happen at least 5% of the Association members will need to sign the petition. If you would like to participate in the effort please contact me via email at email@example.com. The proposed bylaw amendments will be published on the Law Librarian Blog and readers will have an opportunity to comment before the petition is distributed.