August 30, 2011
So what that there was a Hurricane and Earthquake--Adherence is More Important
I will start this post by admitting that after the events of the last week I have zero patience. We, on the East Coast, have dealt with two very unusual events for us, an earthquake and then a hurricane. I can only speak for myself but those two events have caused me to lose at least four days between work and personal time. Days when I might have otherwise accomplished things. Like perhaps in my spare time writing the two program proposals I personally have committed to for the next AALL Conference.
With the deadline looming (September 15th) and work about to ramp up with first year associate training planning and other projects and some personal commitments I thought, let me suggest to AALL that they give us a little more time to complete these proposals. I didn't think an extra 5 days would be such an unreasonable request. That would have given me (and of course everyone else) an additional weekend to finalize everything.
I took it upon myself to write Kate Hagan (AALL Executive Director) and Darcy Kirk (AALL President) an email requesting that AALL extend the deadline to September 20th to give us that additional weekend and suggesting that "I think it would be viewed as AALL being very compassionate and flexible if you were to do this." I pointed out that while academic librarians are encouraged to submit proposals for programs by their employers, private law librarians are not. In fact for private law librarians anything done for the profession is generally outside their job and as a friend said to me tonight a "labor of love."
Now I will say that I received a very swift and nice phone call from Kate Hagan asking if there was anything she could do short of extending the deadline. And she did make her case that the Committee meets in October and has usually 300 proposals to review. So that would put more of a burden on them. According to the Important Dates to Remember on the AALL Annual Meeting Site that meeting is in late October. And I am certainly not trying to minimize the work done by the AMPC, I do recognize its a huge job. But I truly believe, given the circumstances, extending the deadline would be the right thing to do. I made my case to Kate during our phone call and she said she would discuss with others and get back to me.
I received an email this evening telling me my request had been considered but that AALL would not change the deadline. Why? What I was told was that they had been advertising the date since early June and they want to adhere to the date.
So I leave it to my colleagues to decide if adherence is more important then flexibility. Not in my book. And yes, I am sure this blog post will make me persona non grata. And I am sure some will suggest I could be writing a proposal instead of this blog post. But as I said I have little patience left.
I hesitate to respond as I have mixed feelings about this topic and the dissappointingly vicious tone of some of the responses. That said, I will try to respond.
First, I understand Caren's request and her motivation for asking. Second, while I have never been on the AMPC, I can understand and appreciate why the dates may not be flexible.
I was taught that when you ask someone to do something, they have at least two options (yes or no). In reading Caren's posting, it would appear that she may have assumed AALL had only one option--that is to accept her suggestion and follow it. Her rationale makes good sense and from a parochial view, I can understand why she might feel disappointed, as she did not get the answer she expected.
Looking at Caren's posting, it would appear that AALL did seriously consider the possibility of changing the due date. However, AALL needs to look at the global, not the parochial picture. It would appear, that based on that global view, AALL felt it could not alter the date. Again, did they not have that option when Caren asked about delaying the deadline? If, after weighing the information they decided to hold to the original date, so be it.
Lastly, a word about the comments. I think Caren did a good job of laying out what she did and how she and AALL went about looking at this topic. I really see nothing in either her post or the headline to cause some of our members to have responded with the harsh comments they felt a need to share with the rest of us. Some of those comments (both pro and con) make one wonder if they were really posted by someone within our profession or by some outsider trying to create angst and turmoil.
Posted by: Anon | Aug 30, 2011 11:28:36 AM
Given the finger-pointing, whining, and downright nastiness of your previous blog posts, are you honestly claiming that you had any patience to begin with? Even if you make valid points, the consistent tone of your writing makes it difficult to feel any sympathy for you.
Posted by: Wha? | Aug 30, 2011 10:45:16 AM
@Stop Whining...: Can we assume you've missed the irony in attacking Caren for "insulting" her colleagues while telling someone else to "shut the hell up" because they disagree with you?
Can't speak for anyone else, but I generally find aall programs to be shallow and stale. There are always some exceptions, but really I only go to the meetings to network and for some of the roundtables. Even then, I only go because it's paid for by my employer--if I had to spend my own $, I wouldn't bother. Be as insulted as you like, but if all of us who complain about aall decided to leave, the six of you who were left and the oversized staff would all get really bored.
Posted by: I Should Know Better Than To Bother... | Aug 30, 2011 8:24:37 AM
I will take exception to your comment "New York wasn't affected in any signifcant way by the quake...." While that is true in the sense of damage being done, it did significantly unnerve many people in NY and significantly impact the amount of work that got done particularly when many people were told to evacuate their buildings. And I am not asking for the extension just for New Yorkers. Are you saying DC and Virginia weren't affected by the quake? Maybe we don't talk to the same people. And if its the last minute its because I was just able to get back to my home and work yesterday after having evacuated due to the hurricane.
Finally, I would like to say that just because I disagree does not mean that I am "trashing" AALL staff.
Posted by: Caren Biberman | Aug 30, 2011 8:23:29 AM
I do think the deadline is too early, though it has been inching back. But we've known about it for a long time and need to take into account that life happens. And c'mon, NYC wasn't affected in any significant way by the quake (I'm sure our West Coast collegues are on the floor laughing right now).
Instead of complaining at the last minute and trashing AALL staff, let's come up with a constructive dialogue on how to make the proposal process work for all of us.
Posted by: Chris Graesser | Aug 30, 2011 7:53:25 AM
AALL needs to extend the deadline. Or is this a practice exercise in "How rigid and uncompassionate can we be" exercise? Failing to extend the deadline is a good way for AALL to discourage involvement of members and perhaps lose membership - not really something we can afford.
Posted by: Mariann Storck | Aug 30, 2011 7:14:19 AM
Come on. You are going to sit there and complain about a process that you knew about for months, and try to blame an event that basically took, what? Two days off your ability to get the submission in? That's not something to commend, it just shows that you need to get your act together. The submission isn't for another couple of weeks. If you can't find the time to work on your submission in that time, then maybe we are all better off not having your program anyway.
As for "No Dog In The Fight" - there were tons of great programming last year. You've basically just insulted everyone in AALL that can meet deadlines, and were willing to put on presentations last year. I think most of the members get a little sick of all you complainers out there that sit back and moan and groan about how awful everyone is. You don't like AALL? You don't like the efforts that everyone else puts in to submit programs? Fine. Leave, submit your own programming, or shut the hell up.
Posted by: Stop Whining... | Aug 30, 2011 7:09:15 AM
I suspect it is too difficult with blogs, listservs, websites, tweets and the like to get word out to the membership about a later submission date. We in firm libraries have had to be very nimble the past 5 years dealing with prices, economic slowdowns, new products, etc. AALL is the antithesis of nimble.
Posted by: No longer AALL member | Aug 30, 2011 7:00:05 AM
I commend you for submitting proposals. I gave up trying years ago. Now, I hardly notice how few programs are actually worth attending.
Posted by: No Dog in the Fight | Aug 30, 2011 6:37:08 AM