May 7, 2012
On Bomb throwers, Revolutionaries, Sycophants and Wimps
Almost two years ago I resigned from CRIV (AALL's Committee on Vendor Relations) and allowed my letter of resignation to be published in full in The Law Librarian Blog. My letter and the post by Joe Hodnicki can be found at Two CRIV Member Resignations Prompt One Question. In the May 2012 edition of Spectrum in the CRIV Sheet Editor's Corner column Todd Melnick and Liz Reppe (please note I spelled their names correctly) discuss that letter of resignation and their view of the current status of CRIV.
I noted in my letter that the purpose was to make constructive suggestions and give my thoughts on what was wrong with CRIV. Among the things pointed out was that between July 2009 and April 2010 CRIV only met once and had one phone conference. I also pointed out that between July 2009 and March 2010 the CRIV Committee had as a whole no communication with the then AALL Vendor liaison. So when Mr. Melnick and Ms. Reppe inform us that they have regular monthly calls for the Committee and that Margie Maes, the current AALL vendor liaison regularly participates in these calls I have to say that i am delighted that my comments on why I was resigning were taken seriously and acted upon.
However, several things about the column are shall we say very thought provoking and some downright disturbing. First, I wonder why this column was published now? i resigned over two years ago and certainly have not written anything recent about CRIV. Could it be related to the Consumer Advocacy Caucus that was recently formed? i will state that I had absolutely nothing to do with the formation of the Consumer Advocacy Caucus. In fact I turned down a request to participate in its formation. I have not participated in any way with the Consumer Advocacy Caucus and am not even sure if I am a member.
I also don't look upon myself as a "bomb thrower" or "revolutionary." I am certainly not seeking to overthrow AALL. in fact in my letter of resignation I stated "I do think change is needed but I also recognize we are volunteers doing our best for the organization representing our profession and I do applaud those efforts heartily." I am at present serving on another AALL Committee though I will admit that between my day job and my work as chapter president it leaves little time for the kind of participation I think the Committee deserves. And I have an even more appreciation for the AALL staff and in particular the AALL, Executive Director, Kate Hagan, who have all been of enormous assistance to me and my chapter. I regularly participate in the AALL Conference and have coordinated three programs (this year will be my fourth). So I have to admit to being perplexed by being labeled by such strong words merely for resigning from a committee and speaking out about it.
I don't think of those who serve on AALL Boards or committees as pushovers, wimps or sycophants. I have in fact written at least one blog post about the importance of volunteering for an AALL Committee.
But I will say this. Over the last few years my concern for librarianship as a profession has increased. i don't know that being incrementalists or meliorists or looking at librarianship as an accretive art is going to serve as well in the future. And by the way, i admit I did have to look up some of these words to make sure I truly knew what they meant. While I appreciate CRIV members wanting to show that there had been improvements I think it could have been done in a different way. I was left perplexed, disturbed and yes, i admit with a fit of giggles at the vocabulary and tenor of the piece. I should also note the first I heard of this piece was an email yesterday to apologize for the misspelling of my name. (CB)
Nothing I could say at this point could adequately convey my reaction to Mr. Melnick's comments below.
Posted by: Caren Biberman | May 8, 2012 3:53:02 AM
I would like to assure readers of the Law Librarian Blog that the timing of the latest CRIV Sheet Editor's Corner coincides only with my co-editorship of the CRIV Sheet. Had I become co-editor last year or two years ago, the editorial would probably have appeared then. I am personally in favor of the goals of the Consumer Advocacy Caucus as I understand them. My only purpose in writing the editorial was to directly address the very real, sincere, and publically articulated concerns of some of CRIV's critics. I wanted to assure the readership of the CRIV Sheet that the committee is alive, well, and doing important work.
I would also like to publically apologize for misspelling Ms. Biberman's name in the editorial. I noticed the error when the piece was in manuscript and composed an email to the AALL Spectrum editor asking that it be corrected. Why that email message stayed in the Work-In-Progress folder of my email client and did not get sent I can't say for sure. I probably got distracted and forgot to go back and send it. I only know that the error was completely inadvertant and that I alone am to blame.
Fordham Law School Library
Posted by: Todd Melnick | May 7, 2012 3:44:08 PM