Tis the season for ALA elections, and thus for ALA campaigning, something which almost no one does. I have received some emails regarding the two people running for ALA president, touting what are no doubt their superior qualifications for the highest library organization office in the land, but otherwise I’ve seen no campaigning.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m running for two different offices within RUSA: RSS Vice-Chair / Chair-elect and CODES Member-at-Large. I have a history of losing RUSA elections. Whenever nominating committees want Person A to win, they need to find a plausible Person B to run against Person A. So someone approaches me at conference and says, “Person B, I want to ask you a question.” That’s B for Bivens-Tatum, I suppose. When I call them on this, they always swear it’s not the case, and since they’re always nice people I suppose I have no reason not to believe them.
Everyone writes up statements of purpose and fills out a biographical form, but there’s usually little campaigning. Even the campaigning for the top office always strikes me as odd. It’s not like being the president of ALA brings that many perks with it. You don’t get a salary and a house and Secret Service protection. At least, I don’t think you do. It seems like a lot of work not to at least get your own limo and bodyguard.
Campaigning for some of the lower offices would be amusing. I was introduced at an RSS all-committee meeting, and I thought it would be funny if I broke tradition and started making a campaign speech. I didn’t, of course, but I wanted to stand up and tell everyone how I was going to take control of RUSA away from the lobbyists and special interests and bring the power back to the people, or something like that. Then I could have gone around shaking everyone’s hand and asking if there were any babies to kiss. My Vice-Chair opponent has been a librarian a bit longer than me, so I could also say that this election should be about judgment and not experience (not that I’m questioning your judgment, Barb, if you’re reading this. If you’re not reading this, then it might be a different story!). I might also point out that I’m the taller candidate and have a lot more facial hair, which is important for representing RUSA-RSS on the world stage. My height and facial hair would also make it easier to heal the rifts between RUSA-RSS and various world leaders, with whom I would obviously be willing to meet and initiate diplomatic relations. I would also offer to debate on a range of issues from the RUSA strategic plan to how many RSS nametag ribbons we might need to give out at functions.
My third time up for one office (which I lost that time by two points), I did consider putting as a “statement of concern” that I was coming up for promotion and tenure and that being elected Member-at-Large would look very nice on my vita. In retrospect, I wonder if that would have given me the two votes I needed to win, or just made everyone who didn’t know me think I was such a jerk that they wouldn’t vote for me. Now, it doesn’t matter as much, since I have our equivalent of promotion and tenure. I guess I didn’t need that office, after all.
Of course because of the lack of campaigning we’re not overwhelmed with propaganda and disinformation about all the candidates, which for me is the most enjoyable portion of any political campaign and the sort of thing that makes me proud to be an American. Unfortunately, this means that unless we want to read all the statements and bios, which could mean a lot of time spent when we consider those counselor ballots, we have to just vote blind. Many ALA members have a simple system. Mine goes something like this. First, I vote for me. Then, I vote for people I know. Then I vote for academic librarians. Then I vote for people who have unusual names. So far I haven’t had to go below that level.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, not that I’m campaigning, but if you step into that ALA voting booth between now and whenever the elections end and you see my name, I wouldn’t be averse to getting your vote. I’m not saying, “go vote for me.” Just if you’re voting anyway, you might as well vote for me. You can even use my criteria. I’m me, and you at least know who I am, and I’m an academic librarian, and I certainly have an unusual name. And I’m pretty tall, don’t forget that. Not freakishly tall or anything, so don’t worry. I have some other qualifications, too, but those are all listed on the ballot. Keep all this in mind come election day.
God bless RUSA, and God bless you all!