21 - Packed and Ready for the Taxi - 24 hours of flickr
Tomorrow I’m off to DC to meet with 22 other ALA members that are serving on the ALA Presidential Task Force on Electronic Content Access. How this came to happen is another blog post in this series, but for now I’d like to share a little more info about this “retreat” and my involvement with the Task Force. As I tell you about our work and my involvement, please do try and think about you and your career and your library. As I said in the previous post, I believe that when you find the things you want to hone in on, you can do just about as much or as little as you want to. So I tell you all of this partly to let you know what I’m up to when I’m not blogging as much as I once did, but I also wanted to talk about it all so that hopefully you’ll feel a lot of “Well heck, if he can do that work for libraries, I can do ______ for libraries”. Because you can. Really, you can. More than you may have imagined. So here are some more details about another part of what has kept me away from blogging very, very regularly:

At this event the Presidential Task Force members and some great ALA staff as well will be honing our plans and deciding what we’ll be researching, writing and doing case studies on as a group. Our larger goal is to help chart a path forward for ALA and American libraries in relation to electronic content and the future of libraries when it comes to electronic content access. Nice size goal, eh?

ALA President Roberta Stevens, incoming ALA President Molly Raphael, and the members of the task force are committed to doing this as best we can, with great intent and care. I am serving as co-chair of this Task Force so if you have thoughts that you would like be sure get passed on and included in our work here, please pass them on to me and I will be sure to include them in the work we do as much as possible.

If you want more info on the task force, there is some info available on ALA Connect via this page.

To go with my previous blog post, I’ll share with you what I said to my fellow task force members over on ALA Connect when we were introducing ourselves to each other. It shows you more of why I’ve been blogging less and also how I’ve tried to put to good use some of the traction that blogging and presenting has given me:

Michael Porter – Why I’m here with you all on the TF
Greetings fellow Task Force members,

Here’s the story of why I’m here with all of you. I’m grateful to have the honor to work and serve with you all and am very excited to see the results we come up with. Our charge is significant, but I also believe it is absolutely critical for our profession. It’s been an interesting journey getting to this point and I hope by the time we start completing work I know your stories as well. Here’s mine:

Though a very long time ALA member, and even past ALA Student Chapter President (Indiana University 1998-99) frankly, I shied away from deeper engagement with ALA for quite a while. While it clearly did many good things to contribute to the profession and to American Libraries, to me it seemed somewhat bogged down in process and bureaucracy and even somewhat exclusive and alienating at some levels, particularly those that could affect significant change. Besides, from a personal perspective, I was excited and grateful to find that there seemed to always be an increasing numbers of opportunities elsewhere opening up for me professionally (day job of course, plus blogging at libraryman.com and even an ever growing list of speaking invitations and writing opportunities).

But in the last five years I’ve been working to listen and learn and study and reach out to people in order to figure out why we (libraries) haven’t been able to be leaders when it comes to electronic community engagement and electronic content access. I believe in a simple (and amazingly complex) equations when it comes to libraries and that is: Libraries = Content + Community. Keeping that belief in mind and focusing my learning and research (I’ve also spend a great deal of time studying business and marketing as well in the past 5-7 years) has been an eye opening and fascinating journey.

During the course of this work, after much careful thought and debate and discussion, I decided to try to get involved more with ALA, in largest part to try and help us better use our organizational and institutional power and influence to address what I have come to believe is the most important issue facing the future or American Libraries: equitable access to electronic content though libraries.

In the coming years and decades consumption patterns for content will move dramatically towards electronic formats, and frankly, even with our tradition of service and access, libraries are largely failing. Commercial entities like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and in much of Europe, Spotify are the real leaders in electronic content access, all with successful technologies and business models that can both encourage us and point us toward interesting ways of thinking while at the same time revealing potential models or options for service provision going forward.

I ran for ALA Council in 2009 to get involved with ALA to help lead or efforts to address these issues. While not installed on Council till the end of Annual, I worked with two other Councilors (our very own Jackie Rafferty, as well as the indomitable Larry Romans), to write and pass, with my 180 fellow ALA Councils, the very resolution that spawned this task force.

After several months of conversations and much hard work from all of us and from current ALA President Roberta Stevens, as you know, our Task Force formed in December of 2010.

As we lead up to our retreat in early March, and as we continue to work together in the months and even years to come tackling the issues of electronic content access and the future of American Libraries, I am filled with excitement and energy and hope. This Task Force is proof ALA and ALA membership and ALA Council and ALA senior leadership “get” that this issue is very important. It is up to us to now do the work that will result in the appropriate forward movement. I, and many others say “Huzzah!” in the same breath that we say “It’s about time!”. So now lets dive in and get this thing moving! If we succeed we really have a rare opportunity to make an impact on the future of American Libraries though our work here. What could be more inspiring?

Ahhh yes…I was supposed to provide bio information here, not a feel good motivational speech, wasn’t I? Ok then, here goes:

“Michael is a librarian, presenter, author, practical technology fan, and PEZ collector. He has 20 years of experience working in Libraryland and has presented hundreds of times to library staff around the world. His writings regularly appear in major library journals around the world. In 2009 he was selected as a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker”, in 2010 was elected to the American Library Association’s governing Council and in 2011 was also elected to the ALA Executive Board. He currently works at WebJunction.org in Seattle, Washington as their Communications Manager and also serves as the President of Library Renewal, an organization dedicated to research, partnerships and grassroots support for libraries as they struggle to offer electronic content to their users in competitive ways.”

Thanks to all of you. Can’t wait to get to know and work with each of you,

-Michael Porter
Task Force Co-chair

If folks are interested I can keep you posted about how things go with the Task Force here. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the other major thing I’ve been working on in my “free time”, with a crew of other library folks. Its a way YOU can join in and help ensure libraries can offer electronic content access effectively in the coming decades. There is much work to do, and many initiatives to come, but it is a very real movement and things are underway. I’ll have a post up about the efforts here and what has been behind it. It’s been a truly amazing learning experience and there is lots of progress and stories to share that I think you may find motivating and even a bit inspiring. Meantime, check Library Renewal here!
Library Renewal Presentation Pic

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