- Welcome by Jen & call to order at 4:06pm: Reminder from Jen to please check the Board docs folder and review action plans and reports ahead of each Board meeting so we are prepared to discuss and ready to vote as needed.
1. Housekeeping: Please add regional events on the shared Board calendar to avoid schedule conflicts. Goal is to have one in-person meeting perhaps in June, outdoors. Please check the Board doc with your administrators contact information. Emily will send letters out in December/January to notify your district admin of your Board role and commitment to MSLA.
(i) Treasurer - Michelle Fontaine: negotiations continue with CVENT. We will eventually replace with another company; at present the Board has higher priorities to focus on.
(ii) MLS Liaison - Christi: email from MLS to MSLA membership asking for school librarians to share their collection development policies and reconsideration policies.
(iii) Professional Learning and Conference - Alix: Conference committee making headway, conference dates set 3/26-3/28/2022, virtual format on Whova. Contract signed with Whova, onboarding session complete to review and learn new features of the platform. Conference logo, save the date and call for proposals have all gone out to membership. Proposals due 12/10/2021. Committee has developed a list of possible keynote speakers: Cynthia Leitich Smith, KC Boyd, and Pablo Cartaya. Backup list too, see report for more details. Also working on author panels. MSLA has never paid an honorarium for speakers. Next meetings: 11/30 and 12/14. Committee is finalizing sponsors and payment options, plan to open registration in January. Professional learning: trending topic is book challenges. Michelle (Tres) noted we need to vote on increased cost of Whova above budgeted amount (extra $649). Michelle proposed motion, Deeth seconded, motion carried. Georgina suggested a speaker on disinformation Joan Donovan, PhD, at Harvard Kennedy School, Alix shared she is on the list for consideration.
(iv) Advocacy - Georgina: need help with the website please; working on an advocacy kit for school library teachers; furthering our relationship with MBLC; waiting for permission to use Senator Lesser’s letter; considering input from all stakeholders. Recognition from Jen and the Board for all Georgina’s work on Advocacy.
(v) Outreach - Deb: working with MLA, collecting data on school librarians; looking at ebook procurement and the publishers relationship with libraries; working on a legislative toolkit; please consider hosting a legislative breakfast maybe in February/March ahead of the conference, ask your school admin for permission and to support, MBLC and MLS can attend as well as local legislators. Alix may host in Beverly. Jen noted Cambridge won’t allow guests and food at the same time. Deb shared the work of Library Futures, a group working towards equitable access to libraries globally. Jen added an FYI: the MBLC has released their FY2023 Legislative Agenda (the budget they are requesting from the state legislature). Usually MSLA sends a letter endorsing the Legislative Agenda - this will probably happen in the new year.
(vi) Awards - Ingrid: deadline extended to 12/1/2021, only 4 nominations thus far, all for virtual influencer. Idea from Georgina to send the nomination info to administrators including school Principals to nominate a librarian in their district, and look at it as advocacy for highlighting the work of librarians AND the school district. Suggestion to highlight librarians who have been extra creative with initiatives during COVID. Jen recognized everyone’s capacity for extra’s is limited and it may be a light year for awards. Feedback from Morgan on a rubric to help guide expectations, Mike added it was sent out via email. Update from Ingrid: “The rubric that Wendy Garland and I developed is for scoring purposes. The criteria that the tool (website, social media, etc) is judged on is right on the nomination form.”
(vii) Forum - Luke & Reba: 3 guests on latest podcast, Luke working on sound. Follow up on social media - Jen sent a request out to the membership for a volunteer to manage the MSLA accounts, no response. (Also request for volunteers to run the Bookmark Contest, one response offering to help, not lead). Jen acknowledged again the capacity limits of everyone on the Board. Willing to let go of the Bookmark Contest for this year perhaps multiple people can pitch in to help with social media. Alix suggested people who are familiar with and use a particular platform (eg Twitter) can manage that, another person manage Instagram etc. Luke suggested Hootsuite to coordinate and schedule messages across platforms. Jen suggested better to have one point person in charge, and that MSLA should be on social media on several platforms to reach as many people as possible. One huge benefit of Facebook is that we reach non-members. Alix suggested a goal be to figure out Twitter before the conference as many people use this during professional meetings & tag the organization. Luke & Reba are timing the Forum and podcasts to promote the conference. Reba noted best to separate personal and professional social media accounts. Jen noted we don’t want to add stress to everyone’s already busy schedules, we’ll do what we can and dedicate more time in July.
3. Annual Meeting Follow Up: Jen
Jen is looking at feedback from the breakout groups to distill into bullet points that we can action. However, the book challenges issue has exploded, so that is our priority and annual meeting follow up is on the backburner.
4. Action plan on book challenges and adverse legislation: Jen
1st Amendment legal precedent means that librarians can’t personally be held responsible for books they add to their collections. It is written into MA law. Numerous other states have seen adverse legislation proposed which would remove the ability of professionals to choose their own materials, or make it possible for individual librarians to be sued. A big focus for MSLA is to continue to build our relationship with legislators, MLS, MBLC and MLA. Challenges and adverse legislation are a trend across the US, it will probably happen in MA. Jen noted in her 15 year career it has never been this bad, nor has it been a professional focus. There are two links on the agenda, please read and add to the docs, and keep checking for new updates. Goal is to form a panel to guide membership through how to write a collection development policy and a challenge policy, starting in January. This will be a focus at the conference, note a proposal received from Bonnie McBride. Include people who have had a book challenged and their experience. Jen and Alix talked about scheduling this session at the conference to run independently so all can attend. Luker suggested role play being very helpful eg Gender Queer is questioned, one person play the parent and the other practice your response. Reba noted they have a policy, its 10-15 years old, needs updating. Reba shared she has Gender Queer checked out to herself so its not available on the shelf, she will share with some students, questioning if this is a form of censorship, there is a genuine fear of irate parents. Jen asked for discussion/thoughts/suggestions:
- Share policies we have from our schools, even if old, so colleagues are not starting from scratch (Luker)
- Students are interested in what’s going on with book challenges, interest in court cases, ? share doc from AASL (Deeth)
- Legislative summit from October through ALA included leaders from 48 states, information shared that there are coordinated efforts behind the scenes from organized groups. As a result, we need a toolkit for members, ALA staff are available to support and provide PD, this will be a work in progress for MSLA (Jen)
- In the past, some parents have dug through the catalog to prepare (Claudia)
- Let your Principals and Superintendents know this is an issue and get their support
- It is an access and equity issue
- It is a DEI issue - books being targeted include issues of gender and people of color
- Collaborate with your English department
- ALA has a template available to guide policies on collection development and book challenges
- Ask your union what legal support is available
- MASC (MA Association of School Committees) have a policy bank, considering reaching out to them to form a connection around policy
- Briefly state your policy on your school website; could be an invitation for parents to bring a challenge (Mike)
- It is in the media, parents are already aware, parents can be vicious - role play is a great tool for practice, get comfortable with your response (Jen)
- MSLA developing a crisis communication policy (Jen)
- MSLA work on developing a resource page for members, maybe partner wit MLS and use LibGuide, discussion of private and make it password protected or a Google doc that requires a request (and membership privileges) to access vs making it public on our website
- Host two dates as an “unconference” for open discussion about this topic (Jen)
- Remember it's about the kids (Luke)
Meeting Adjourned: motion to adjourn Deb, seconded Mike & Deeth, all in favor, meeting adjourned 6:00pm.
Next meeting Wednesday, December 15th on Zoom, 5:00-7:00pm.