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Marc Truitt: An Open Letter to the Members of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Library Association

January 19, 2016

I long ago gave up any hope that you, the members of the Executive Committee, would reconsider the wisdom of abandoning your proper role as guardians of the only truly national voice for Canadian librarians. Indeed, for the last year-and-a-half, there has been precious little about CLA’s direction and priorities to persuade me to remain a Member of the Association, particularly given my personal knowledge that some members of the Executive viewed continued income from memberships as one source of dowry-bait for enhancing CLA’s appeal to organizational suitors.

Silly me! I thought that if I held on, someone might come to her or his senses about this lemming-like rush to the cliff of organizational oblivion. And so I continued to pay my dues. After CLA’s swan-song gathering in Ottawa, I quietly resigned myself to the fact that pronouncement of the Association’s demise was but a matter of time.

Until last week, I thought that I could not be made yet more disappointed in the CLA Executive, but in this, too, I have been proven wrong. I’d hoped that the Executive would at least have the integrity to provide for remote electronic voting by the membership when the resolution to dissolve the Association is presented on 27 January 2016. Instead, the Executive, in its message to members dated 15 January trumpeted — perhaps thinking us all deaf and blind? — in underlined, boldface, all-uppercase text:

HOWEVER, BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEXITY OF CLA’S MEMBERSHIP STRUCTURE, MEMBERS ATTENDING VIA PHONE OR WEBCAST WILL NOT BE ABLE TO VOTE REMOTELY AND SHOULD CONSIDER ASSIGNING A REPRESENTATIVE (INSTITUTIONAL, ASSOCIATE, OR CORPORATE MEMBERS) OR PROXY HOLDER (PERSONAL AND HONORARY MEMBERS) WHO WILL BE PRESENT AT THE SPECIAL MEETING TO CARRY THEIR VOTE. DETAILS ON HOW TO DO THIS ARE NOTED BELOW.

What a cop-out! Does anyone seriously believe, in this day and age, that the Executive could not devise a means for recording our votes electronically? I’ve already heard that there have been numerous comments and complaints about the cumbersome proxy process that CLA’s leaders have fobbed-off on the membership. If mass voting by proxy isn’t actually calculated to reduce engagement on the part of voting members not present at the meeting, it surely doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict that such nonetheless will be the practical consequence. I leave it to others to speculate as to whose votes are most likely to remain unrecorded because members found the whole process insensitive, cumbersome, and lacking in accountability.

The leadership owes CLA members the respect of a process that is simple, straightforward, accountable, and engaging. I regret to say that the proxy gambit is none of these.

Surely CLA deserves an ending more dignified than this. So too do we, CLA’s members, especially when we are being asked to endorse pulling the plug on an old and valued friend.

– Marc Truitt (CLA #43026)
18 January 2016

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One response to Marc Truitt: An Open Letter to the Members of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Library Association

  1. Jo-Anne Gibson says:

    The timing of the vote is also problematic. Long before I knew when it was going to be held, I signed up and paid to go on the school tours at the OLA conference. Guess what? I can’t possibly do both because the timing overlaps. And they certainly haven’t made proxy voting easy. You have to interpret the legalize print to figure out how it’s done. It should be written in simple language with an example attached to make it easy. We’re all busy people and our most sacred national library association is on the brink.

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