ALA membership processing is broken

Update 19 July 2007: I wanted to add an update that I have been contacted by LITA and that official steps are being taken to preclude whatever disconnect happened in my membership from happening to anyone else.

I have been personally welcomed into the fold and look forward to my future time with LITA.

For a bit of context, and to help folks realize that it’s not just me bitching again: see rikhei’s recent trials and tribulations with ALA membership:

I am already regetting renewing my ALA membership

Clarification on the ACRL registration problem

In the middle of November 2006 I renewed my membership in ALA and made a few changes in said membership. One of the things I did was to drop ACRL and join LITA. These were certainly the changes which cost the most.

Here is an excerpt from the renewal confirmation email:

The following Membership(s) were purchased:

1. Student pricing - Student Membership Basic Dues
2. ALCTS - Association for Library Collections and Technical Svcs
3. LITA - Library and Information Technology Association
4. IFRT - Intellectual Freedom
5. LHRT - Library History
6. NMRT - New Member
7. SRRT - Social Responsibilities Round Table

That said, I am still (mid-February 2007) getting ACRL publications and I have yet to receive a word from LITA. Any word. A freaking “Welcome” would be a good start!

I went in and looked at my membership status at the ALA site last night. [That trick is, well, a trick. I know ALA is working on another website redesign so I’ll cut them some slack on the idiocy that is checking your current member status for the moment.] It seems that all of the above is true, along with still having a membership in ACRL and the fact that I owe them $35 more dollars.

Of course, I have received absolutely no communication from ALA on this matter, but at least it explains the ACRL publications I am still receiving. But guess what ALA? You are not getting another penny from me for this year! And the future is seriously under reconsideration, again.

I did not renew my membership in ACRL. In fact, I cancelled it. I did join LITA though. And while your confirmation email and the website confirms that, they do not seem to know it.

I know some of you out there will (again) try and defend ALA on this. But you know what? There is absolutely no justification! It is simply broke. Plain and simply broken.

If Amazon and all the other sorts of entities that are currently being tossed around as things libraries should be emulating were broken like this “we” wouldn’t be saying these things, would we? [And, yes Jenica, I feel your pain. Amazon is currently broken for me too.]

I have taken a look at the ALA Membership Committee page and I see some names I recognize—names of people I like and respect. First, let me say thank you for serving. Second, let me say you have a big task ahead of you. Third, I doubt you really have much input into actually fixing the problem. But I sure hope you are beating on the door of those who do, and I wish you luck. Because wherever the problem lies, it is causing you membership issues and member loss.

I don’t actually expect a lot of “glitter” from ALA because I am somewhat happy to give them money to do some of their more important background work. But I do expect for the confirmed membership info from mid-Nov to match what it is in mid-Feb. I also expect that if you think I owe you money that you would contact me. I also expect to get what I pay for; even if that is simply a welcome.

I voted for the dues increase ALA. I expect you to actually fix some of the broken parts with it. Starting with membership services might be a good place. That seems like such a basic concept for a membership organization, especially one whose purpose really isn’t to serve their members but where their members work. It seems to me that asking people to pony up large sums of money to be a member of something that actually supports their employers—truly one heck of a concept—would particularly make the organization pay attention to the “small” matter of membership.

ALA membership services is simply broken. Considering I have had an issue every time I have renewed my membership the last couple years I do not see myself retaining my membership when I am no longer a student. To give that kind of money for such service is completely unthinkable. Actually, to give up the kind I did as a student is also unthinkable. Taking 3-6 months to get straight any changes in my membership and then turning around and asking me for money in another 6 months is inexcusable.

ALA, you are not the only game in town. There are plenty of other professional organizations which I would happily join if I wasn’t giving you the money I am each year. I have only heard good things about these organizations, also.

I am tired of this crap ALA! Fix it! Now!

I welcome any contact—public or private—from members of the ALA Membership Committee or anyone in LITA who has any insight into the issue. But for anyone planning on just giving the same tired excuses, please save yourself the trouble. I have absolutely no desire to hear them. Again.

Virtual ALA Washington Office?

OK, I have to ask, despite some of the amazing “conversation” happening in the biblioblogosphere [as the irony drips from that statement] the past couple of days. Have you all seen this announcement, and what do you think of it?

WASHINGTON – On January 9, 2007, the ALA Washington Office proudly announced the opening of its “virtual office” in the online environment Second Life.

[I will not even begin to try and link to an ALA press announcement. The page display at the ALA site doesn’t seem to have proper line breaks and, more importantly, I doubt that link would be good for more than a day or two, if it is even good, period. As a linkable object, that is.]

I first saw the announcement in the weekly email thing that comes from ALA.

I don’t know what I think of it. My initial thoughts are not pleasant ones, though. I don’t have a well-formed opinion of Second Life, to start with. I don’t “get” it. Admittedly, I haven’t experienced it either. I also have no desire to do so. Some year maybe. But my real life is complicated enough, and if I really wanted to pretend to be somebody/something else I’d go back to playing D&D.

On one hand, I am glad that there is a group of librarians who are involved in Second Life. Whether or not many of us ever “get” Second Life, in particular, there is/will be a need for library services to be embedded in many places they are not currently.

But does the ALA Washington Office need to be there? Maybe I don’t know enough about what they do. I see that it was set up in 1945 to serve as a conduit between ALA members and federal legislators on Capitol Hill. Are there that many of our Congress critters hanging out in Second Life? OK, not likely.

I see from this page that there is also an Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) established in 1995. Sounds more likely. I also see from a blog post of District Dispatch [found from the first page I linked] that it is, in fact, OITP that is involved in this “outreach.”

According to the news releases and the blog post:

At present, you can find the following items in the virtual office:

* An introduction to the Washington Office
* Information on upcoming activities at Midwinter and National Library Legislation Day.
* An interactive computer that will point users to ALA Washington online resources, including the District Dispatch podcast and blog.
* A slideshow of pictures of our office and staff.

OK. I’m still confused. I really do not know what to think. Why?

Is this the kind of thing ALA needed a dues increase for? I really am glad to see some of the things ALA is trying to do. I think they are trying, and that is important. And certainly not everything they do will please everyone. By the way, I voted for the dues increase.

But unless I can figure this one out, or someone can help me understand that this is a good thing I will be thinking long and hard before renewing my membership next year.

Now before some of you come jumping on me, please go read that press announcement or the blog posting and tell me that there is anything at all that explains what they are up to. What is the rationale behind this move? They talk about the things the librarians are doing there, but not word one about why we need to have a “branch” of the ALA Washington Office in Second Life.

I remember some of the debate about the dues increase and one of the main points that people on either side of the issue agreed to was the good work done by the ALA Washington Office. OK. How does this tie-in to that?

My only sensible guess is that there are many prominent techie types from other professions that hang out in Second Life and that this is a way to propagandize them oops, provide outreach to them. Of course, if that is the case then they cannot just come out and say that.

I really would like to see this as a good thing. But I’m fairly certain I don’t.

Any opinions, ideas, etc? By the by, they are asking for feedback on what we would like to see from the Washington Office presence in Second Life. You can leave comments on the blog post [which I hope is a stable, although ugly, link] or at The Shifted Librarian Blog.

Please keep in mind that I am soliciting other opinions to help me form my own. This means that I am actually able to be persuaded one way or the other. That ought to influence your rhetorical style when you provide feedback.


Sort of an underwhelmed astonishment. No, not really “astonishment.” I can certainly see how I got here, after-the-fact. Hmmm…? Anyway, not sure if I’m living or being lived lately. Lots of stuff happening. Not ingesting much of some of it. Some relaxing and being with friends, but in a complicated, sort of way. Lots of little “failures,” of the “Am I letting someone else down?” sort.

Late afternoon I sent off my 3rd marked exercise for Information Modeling. I think I was OK. This class is such a (wonderful) dichotomy for me; wonderful in the multitudes of ways in which has been and remains dichotomous. I do believe that I am meeting the requirements and, more importantly, the purpose of the class, but it sure isn’t in the best of ways. It is in effect a “survey” class (of a particular type and level having begun with first-order logic) and I am certainly surveying.

The whole two classes at the same time thing was not my best idea. Far from the worst; but not so great. It’s working; could be better. I’m still missing some of the IML classes even though Classification Seminar is over. Allen had class the previous Thursday while I was stuck in O’Hare. This week I made all of class, but with the tooth and poor to no sleep, I was practically asleep before class was over; just kind of dazed.

I have watched 3 movies since Friday evening. Friday, I watched Steamboy. Yesterday, I watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. I began Kingdom of Heaven last night and finished late this afternoon after sending off my entity relation diagram and exercise.

From 12:30 PM Saturday to about 2 PM Sunday, I drove 320 miles; most of it Sat. Hung out with friends, who had a sleepover out at Lake Bloomington. Tooks lot of fire pics.

I also brought home 5 heavy boxes of books from storage. They’re just sitting in the back “bedroom.” Maybe I’ll have a look over the weekend.

I returned the previously mentioned movies just a bit ago and got 5 more. But by getting them tonight, I get to keep them until Friday at 9 PM instead of Thursday. It’s just me on Turkey Day so I might as well watch some movies. A couple need to be watched before or after, though. Maria Full of Grace seems to not be a Thanksgiving movie. Maybe not Paradise Now, either.

I need some time to think. My adviser and I talked for about an hour today. Mostly it was just catching up; letting her into many of the ‘little “failures”‘ mentioned above. Gesturing toward research/ideas for Carole’s paper, CAS project ideas, independent study for Spring, ….

It was really an odd session; abstract and vague. Although there is nothing wrong with abstract or vague when they serve a purpose, currently abstract and vague is not good for me. This is mostly my fault; seems I can be no other way at the moment.

School is at a really weird point for me lately. I despise the whole semester system, but that’s been a given for a while now. I seem to have hit some sort of a plateau, a stalemate. I’m not worried it is permanent–just a slump–although, I can see slowly moving towards this over time. Possibly.

Kathryn wants me to curl up with all the literature I collected in Classification Seminar; not just soon, but longer term. She thinks my direction(s) will come from there; I think it may well.

In other related news, I now have a CETRC Mentor. [CETRC Mentoring subcommittee.] As some of you know, I passed on the honor to possibly be an Emerging Leader. I have a few reasons; much of it is financial. [I actually know at least 3 of the folks accepted; at least 2 recent UIUC grads. I wish them all the best of experiences with this program!] I had decided to instead apply to the ALCTS CCS CETRC Mentoring Program. I found out a couple days ago that I got accepted and who my mentor will be. We have yet to make contact, so who will remain unnamed for now.

I guess I figure I would rather spend some time learning from those who have (recently) gone before me, before I try running the asylum. In fact, I prefer it as a long term modus operandi. That doesn’t imply I don’t value those who want to. I just prefer a more personal way to learn “to lead.”

And, NO, I do not want a handbag!

Blake has been keeping in touch as LISHost has been getting nailed by spammers the last few days. I get relatively little spam that makes it through to my blog to get caught by Akismet. It stops everything else. Moving to the Cutline template has, for me, drasticaly increased the number that get to Akismet. Still minor. The last couple of days many are making it through to the Moderate cue and some are getting caught by Akismet. Still nothing getting through that I know of. But if I am getting hit this hard, I can only imagine folks like Walt or Aaron. Spammers are in a special level of the special level of hell I have reserved for marketers. So why all the handbag spam?

This is really rough in spots, but it needs to go out. I may elaborate on many of the things touched on here; much of it is my future. This is possibly more for me than others, but feel free to engage me over any of it. I just have mostly questions right now.

MyALA for 2007

In case anyone is interested, here is what I did about ALA for this year:

Stayed as a student member.

Kept ALCTS and the Cataloging and Classification Section (CCS).

Added Serials Section (SS). Hey, it was free and I do serials.

Dropped ACRL and the two sections I was in. Hasn’t been of much value to me and I’m no longer so involved in the student chapter. [Yes, the site needs updating. We’re having a “small” issue getting control handed over to the new webmaster.]
Kept Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT).

Finally added New Members Round Table (NMRT).

Added Library History Round Table (LHRT).

Joined LITA. I decided to give it a try and see how it fits my interests.

In the end, my dues went up by $5/year. I guess I was feeling generous when I renewed two days ago. All this certainly won’t be sustainable when I’m no longer a student, though.

Where am I? What day is it?

Poor and I’m tired
Fallin’ asleep
Everyone’s praying’ I’ll get back on my feet…

Haley Bonar, “go away angels”, …the size of planets

I am feeling so completely whelmed lately. Not overwhelmed. Simply, massively whelmed.

No doubt much of it is my own doing. That is, as much control over friends leaving as I might have. Because one must celebrate with their friends before they go off to do incredible things in the wider world.

I am so behind on school or, at least, it seems that way. Having an 8-week class certainly contributes to the state of whelmedness. Especially when it is in your immediate field of interest.

Cataloging work went well this morning, despite my being up past midnight last night. I get up at 6. I got 4 records uploaded to WorldCat and then imported into our catalog today. Friday I’ll get the holdings records done. [ranger: I haven’t forgotten you. I’ll get you that title shortly.]

The rest of my work day this afternoon and early evening wasn’t as smooth. I really started flagging after lunch, which certainly didn’t help either.

I’m teching an ALA CPLA course for Bob Burger (Associate University Librarian for Services). When I finally got the audio started today (late due to technical issues) I accidentally typed something along the lines of “Today’s music is boob’s selection: artist, album…” Yeah; I did. So much for pressing the shift key and amen for extra letters. And to think that one of my bosses lovingly suggested that working with the Associate University Librarian would be good for my career! 🙂

I did manage to “attend” our ACRL@UIUC meeting via LEEP while I was broadcasting another class. I missed a lot of the meeting though. Kind of hard to virtually attend a meeting when you’re helping others (virtually) troubleshoot their tech issues.

Then, near the end of the class I was teching, someone popped into the tech room with some audio quality issues. I thought it was a friend of mine so I started teasing her with “just have another drink, it’ll clear up then,” mostly by “whisper” thankfully. Then I realized I probably wasn’t talking to my friend. I was so embarrassed! But she was very grateful. She said I really livened up the class for her, and that she was heading straight to the liquor cabinet as soon as we were done chatting. Distance ed does have its advantages, kids. 🙂

I really need to just go to bed. But domestic chores can only wait so long. I’m drying the 2nd load of clothes now. I also did a small bit of not too intellectual homework. I made a few replies on the bulletin boards and picked out and posted my “quote of the day” for tomorrow’s class (well, the 1st of 3 of tomorrow’s classes).

I also need to decide about attending ASIS&T soon. The price goes up in 2 weeks. I really want to attend, but as broke as I’ve been lately I’m having a hard time even thinking about it.

But then, clearly, I’m not thinking about enough things anyway.

…taped his own wings on.

Haley Bonar, “hawaii”, Lure the Fox

Yes. I know. I best get to taping. Cause sink or swim, this boy intends to soar.

Labor Day weekend, so far

Hung 23 pictures in my apartment.

Read some sociology of science for class:

Read a few articles on classification systems for Pauline’s class, including Ranganathan’s “Hidden Roots of Classification,” Inform. Stor. Retr. 3, 1967: 399-410. I have to say I’m pretty sceptical about an “Absolute Syntax.”

Somewhat organized my network drive at school, from home. Yay for WebDav!

Prepped the new ACRL@UIUC website to replace the old one. The goal is to have it up before the weekend’s out. A big shout-out to Lynn Jasper, of Chicky Chicky Boom Boom!, for redoing all of the underlying code for the website this summer. [Dang! Something is weird with the server, FTP client or something. I was able to create a new folder, but cannot seem to move (or copy) the old files to it so I can upload the new ones. That really sucks!]

Went to dinner at a German restaurant and 2 bars as part of a bachelorette party, which was really just an elaborate and fun going-away party for the fabulous Jenny B [That link really is to the Flickr set, but it’s marked family and friends only.].

Sidenote: Flickr needs more fine-grained control. I generally make all my photos public. But once in a while, for the sake of others, I mark some family and/or friends only. But what if you want a photo/set available to someone who you don’t necessarily (or even explicitly) want as a family or friend? For instance, a participant in some event that you’ve photographed might deserve to see those photos, but not all of the rest of your photos that are restricted. And, Jon, that is not directed at you!

Kept up with my Bloglines.

Did a lot of maintenance on my books in my LibraryThing catalog.

Put some more stuff away, as in getting more moved in.

Read Sunday’s newspaper.

Worked on some classification systems homework.

What I haven’t done:

Enough homework, of all kinds, for all classes.

Enough work around the house.

Life right now

I’m just a bit stressed lately. Last night (Tues) that would have been a complete understatement. [Much abridged.]

I had been working on a lengthy post, which I just cut all but the 1st sentence from, on how sucky my life has been the last week or so. I was chatting with one of my LEEP buddies during class Wednesday night and had told her I had this lengthy post that I was working on concerning all my recent trials and travails. But, honestly, no one cares, nor should they probably.

Things are slowly getting better. Some of the issues have been resolved, some I’m learning (or trying) to live with.

Lately, it’s been customer service support hell for me. Not in the giving, but the receiving. I have a credit card that I recently transferred large sums of debt to that managed not to change my address, then sent me a bill that I received 2 weeks after it was due. Now when I am trying to resolve the issues they are acting like they don’t know who I am and I have to wait for their security department to call me. That’s kind of hard when I work or go to school most of the day!

ZoneAlarm really screwed me over when I tried to update my subscription for the next year due to completely inept error messages in their shopping cart. In the meantime, they managed to encumber my debit card for over $240 for a charge of $31.82!

Thus, I started getting overdraft statements from my credit union on Tuesday. But the system did not show the encumbrance and it simply looked as if they just started “stealing” money from me, to the eventual tune of $110. I got that one worked out yesterday thanks to a very helpful Connie (and Jennifer the day before).

Those are just the tip of the iceberg that has drifted (crashed?) into my life at the moment. But, it has to get better.

I’m enjoying serials cataloging, although mentally it is like taking a 4th class.

I’m also assisting in getting our student group, ACRL@UIUC, up and running for the new year. Our 1st meeting of the semester is next Wed., so those responsibilities will settle down soon. Unfortunately, I am working at that time and can’t attend.

I was having WordPress issues for a while so I asked Richard Urban who told me to contact Blake. He had had the same problem with the Musematic blog before and Blake fixed it. So despite all the badness settling on me hard on Tuesday evening, Blake did me a world of good and had me fixed in under 2 hours from when I sent my email to LISHost.

So, thanks to people like Connie, Jennifer and Blake, things are beginning to look up.

One last person I’d like to thank is the Feel-good Librarian. Tuesday night while my world seemed to be crashing around me I was steadfastly refusing to cry or scream. I tried to distract myself for a bit and looked at a few things in my Bloglines. That post finally made me cry. Not for me, but for that mother and her daughter, and for all the other people in the world who do not feel safe for serious and justified reasons. I may have, or think I have, lots of problems in this world, but I do feel safe.

Giving props where due

A while back, just before ALA Annual, I wrote a post declaring my opinion that Leslie Burger’s Emerging Leaders program was discriminatory due to its age restrictions. That post got a lot of comments, most of which were in general agreement, although several pointed out other ways in which it was, at best, non-inclusive and, at worst, was discriminatory.

I believe that there was some discussion of this program at ALA, but I heard no more about it. Last night I saw a post on it again in my Bloglines. I must not have kept it as I can no longer find it this morning. So I apologize to whomever alerted me to this again.

It seems Leslie Burger deserves a hand for listening to someone or someones. The qualifications now say: 2) Young (under 35 years) or new librarians of any age with fewer than 5 years post-MLS experience.

That second clause is new. And I, for one, applaud it. A few other minor questions I initially asked seem to have been answered also. Thank you Madame President!

Now, to be sure, there are still some financial issues for many who might want to apply. Yet, I feel I must give credit for my initial direct concern being answered. I am taking no credit for this whatsoever; I am not deluding myself that Leslie reads my blog. Actually, I am assuming several of the folks commenting on my post (Karen, Nanette, … and maybe others) addressed it in some manner during Annual. Nonetheless, my initial concern was addressed and I feel that it is only right to credit that change.