President Report

2010-2011 CALA President Annual Report

June 19, 2011

Zhijia Shen

Is this an interim or annual report?    Annual report.

List significant activities since last report:

The goals of the 2010-2011 presidency of CALA continues to be striving for organizational excellence, to reach out to minority communities of users and librarians through committee activities and leadership training program, and to strengthen further the collaborative relations between U.S. and Chinese libraries.

Looking back over the months we have worked together as the CALA family, we have accomplished significantly thanks to the strong support and hard work of CALA members and committees, especially the hard work of our committee chairs and officers.

CALA is growing stronger as its membership broadens and increases.  In its spring report, the Membership Committee announced that over forty new members joined CALA, some as life members.  The CALA family brings together people from all over the world and various aspects of our profession, from book vendors, local public librarians, and community college librarians to deans and professors of America's best library schools and the directors of the world's top Chinese academic libraries.

Thanks to Professor Tze-Chung Li's continued generous support by donating funding to provide free membership for library school students as first-time CALA members, many young future librarians have been introduced to CALA.  We also thank many other donors who have generously given to CALA in support of its various programs and activities.  The Beijing Chinese Books Co., a new member of CALA, has made an $800 donation to provide needed bus transportation for the CALA annual award banquet in New Orleans.  Mr. Wei Wang of China Classics has donated $500 in support of the CALA banquet and leadership training initiative, which will provide CALA officers and potential leaders with the timely training to carry out their responsibilities as CALA officers and to further develop their leadership skills. We have received three major donations from SAGE Publications, Wisers Information Limited, and Emerald Inc. for the CALA Annual Program.   As publicized by the CALA Publicity and Fundraising Committee, many other generous donors have also contributed to CALA this year and to all of them, we are deeply grateful.

Thanks to the generous donation from the family and friends of Ms Jing Liao (1954-2011), CALA has established The CALA Annual Jing Liao Award for the Best Research in All Media.  Ms. Jing Liao was a long-time CALA member and an accomplished librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She dedicated her professional life in the pursuit of excellence in research and service. "The establishment of this memorial fund is to honor the memory of Jing Liao by encouraging CALA members to strive for excellence of research in all media. Starting from 2012, each year, an award in the amount of $500 will be presented to its recipient at the annual CALA meeting, with a citation by the CALA Board to read at the CALA Annual Award Ceremony.  Thanks to the outstanding leadership of the Task Force on Jing Liao Fund, chaired by Shuyong Jiang with Karen Wei and Wen-Ling Liu as members, the memo of understanding and guidelines for selection of award recipients was developed and approved by CALA Board and signed by CALA President to fully document this award.  

CALA also have one other major donation in process that will lead to the establishment of another award fund to encourage professional activities of CALA members.  As many of you know, the beloved pioneer librarian and library educator Dr. Margaret Fung passed away last year.  The Fung family and friends have initiated a donation in memory of Dr. Fung to establish a professional award fund at CALA.  Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee and Ms Sally Tseng have been leading the work to create the proposal for the award fund.  The CALA Board is looking forward to receiving the draft proposal and working with them to establish this fund.   I want to express our sincere thanks to the family of Dr. Fung for their generosity and to Dr. Hwa-Wei Lee and Ms Sally Tseng for their hard work on behalf of CALA.

In response to CALA members' concerns and call for CALA action to show our support for the libraries and librarians in the Tornado-stricken areas in Missouri, CALA Board voted to approve for CALA President to appoint a task force to raise funding for the Tornado-stricken areas. In June, Haiwang YUAN and Li FU took the lead and accepted the appointment as co-chairs of the task force.  Haiying QIAN, Lisa ZHAO, and Shuyong JIANG are members of the task force, with Songqian LU, CALA Treasurer; Bin ZHANG and Vincci KWONG, co-chairs of CALA Web Committee, serving as ex-officio.  This is an excellent team with much experience and expertise in fundraising for natural disasters. I thank all task force members for stepping up to this special task, and look forward to a successful task force.

As we approach the summer ALA/CALA conference, the work to prepare for the annual CALA Award Banquet is picking up speed.  It has been especially challenging for CALA to make local arrangements in New Orleans this year because there are no current CALA members living in the area.  I want to give my special thanks to our Award Banquet Arrangement Committee and its co-chair Lisa Zhao for taking up this challenge. My heart-felt thanks go to Nancy Hershoff, a member of this committee, who volunteered her time to conduct thorough research on the restaurants in the area and has booked an excellent location for this event, and to arrange with a local bus company to provide shuttle transportation for banquet attendees.  I want to thank the other members of the local arrangement committee, Ms Lian Ruan, Ms Irene Ke, and Ms Min Tong, who have enthusiastically offered their service and contributions.  Lian has developed a beautiful flyer to communicate and promote this significant CALA event.  Special thanks also go to Mr Haiwang Yuan, who has enthusiastically accepted the appointment to serve as this year's Master of Ceremony for the Award Banquet.  Thanks to the dedication and hard work of these wonderful colleagues we look forward to a great event for CALA's annual celebration in New Orleans.

In addition to the exciting CALA banquet, programs, and meetings, CALA also offers a couple of special new activities during the summer conference:

Thanks to the leadership of Lisa Zhao and Karen Wei, co-chairs of the Mentorship Committee, CALA will offer the Leadership Training and Orientation for its officers. (Thursday, June 25, 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.)  All CALA Board members and committee chairs are invited to attend, and the program is also open to CALA members and members of other ALA caucuses.

ALA Diversity Council will host its first program at the ALA Annual Conference:  "Diversity is Everyone's Business: Sensitivities in the Workplace." Monday June 27, 2011, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon.  Shuyong Jiang and Haiwang Yuan, CALA representatives to ALA Diversity Council, will be the CALA speakers at this important event.

CALA has been proactive in the area of international relations especially with China, through its outstanding partnership program with UIUC, Think Globally and Act Globally (TGAG), and its 21st Century Librarianship Seminars.  Thanks to the successful programs in the past few years, the Library Association of China and the TGAG Program hosted at University of Illinois and co-sponsored by CALA have agreed to extend the program for another two years.  In June 2011, in response to the request of the TGAG Project Director that CALA appoint a new representative from a U.S. institution to replace Haipeng Li, who has relocated to Hong Kong, I appointed Guoqing Li, CALA Liaison to the Library Association of China and a past Chair of CALA International Relations Committee, to be the new CALA representative to TGAG.

CALA International Relations Committee co-chaired by Shuyong Jiang and Qi Chen has made significant strides into developing a program for the 21st Century Seminar with Chinese university libraries in Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, and Hunan.  Should it be necessary, I will appoint a Task Force to focus on the planning of these programs to bring it to fruition.

CALA Best Book Committee co-chaired by Shuqin Jiao and Hong Cheng has worked hard and done an excellent job producing the list of Ten Best Books on Chinese Topics by Chinese or Chinese Descent Authors Published in North America in 2010.  This is the first list of best books produced by CALA after the committee changed its focus from selecting for the best book award to recommending the best books on Chinese topics and by Chinese authors.  The list will be broadly publicized and promoted to readers.

One other significant accomplishment in the past year is that for the first time in years CALA election has had more than one candidate for its top leadership positions.  Thanks to the 2011 Nomination Committee chaired by past president Xudong Jin, CALA presented an excellent slate of candidates for the 2011 CALA election.  Thanks to Bin Zhang and Vincci, co-chairs of CALA Web Committee, the 2011 election implemented computer-generated randomization to arrange candidates on the ballots, which presents different ordering of candidates on the ballots received by each voter to ensure fair opportunity for every candidate.  All enhanced voters' confidence in the election and contributed to the significant increase of the voting rate, which reached a record high with over 85% members voted in the 2011 election.

Last but not the least, CALA Board has taken a significant step toward building the groundwork as a professional organization by approving the establishment of a standing committee on the CALA handbook for officers and the change of the name of the handbook to CALA Organizational Manual

As CALA grows larger and stronger, it has attracted increasingly more new members.  CALA elects new officers every year, and many people serve on committees or in elected offices for the first time in their professional careers.  As a professional organization, CALA needs an organizational tool, a handbook or manual, to provide its officers with the basic guidance and information they need as they assume offices and new responsibilities.

Prior to the first edition of the CALA Handbook of Officers, there was little documentation about our organization to provide guidance to new officers.  Keenly aware of the need for a handbook/manual, CALA president appointed the first handbook taskforce in 2005.  Three later CALA presidents reappointed the taskforce to continue its work.  In 2008, the taskforce completed the first edition of the handbook and published it on the CALA website.  Although this first edition now needed to be updated and revised, it had been heavily used by CALA committee chairs and other officers.

A handbook or organization manual needs updating and maintenance to include new information and guidelines and to correct errors and discrepancies.  The 2010-2011Task Force on the CALA Handbook of Officers chaired by Dora Ho, who has chaired three of the four past handbook taskforces and appointed one when she was CALA President (2007-08), has worked effectively to update the handbook.  Through years of hard work of the task forces, CALA has accumulated much valuable experience in developing and maintaining this important document.  Under Dora's leadership, this year the task force made a well-considered motion for the Board's approval to change the handbook task force to a CALA standing committee with the new name of CALA Organization Manual Committee. 

The handbook as an organizational tool is a common practice within professional organizations.  ALA and many other library associations have their own handbooks. For ALA, there are several committees working together on the maintenance of the ALA Handbook.    As CALA grows as a leading professional organization, we must also keep up our professional practices.  A well maintained handbook will make CALA more professional.  The new standing committee will ensure that our handbook remains an evolving document with timely updated information for CALA members and leaders.

Issues of Concern:

During the past year, several concerns were raised, which might have affected the effectiveness of CALA Board in conducting its business:

1. The physical relocation of Executive Director out of country has presented challenges in the Board's direct communications with him.

2. The lack of transparency in CALA nomination and election process gave the appearance of conflict of interests among members of the Election Committee.

3. Due to personal disagreements, the Executive Director initiated a call to members of CALA Board not to participate in the association's business conducts led by the President. As a result he was unable to "assist the president and other officers of the Association in carrying out their responsibilities consistent with the policies established by the Board." (CALA Bylaws,  Article IV).

4. To compensate the inability of the Executive Director to assist the President and the Board, the President appointed the Past-President to serve some essential functions including vote count.

Issues as mentioned above are among indications of confusion regarding the role of CALA Executive Director, the association's top administrative staff position, the potential conflict of interests of CALA officers in election conducts, and the proper separation between CALA officers and the staff position.  I encourage the Board to study the issues and amend the Constitution and Bylaws as necessary to provide clarification.

In conclusion, 2010-2011 was a productive year for CALA. Many exciting activities and projects have been completed thanks to CALA's dynamic committees, taskforces, Board, and chapters. I want to express my profound thanks time and again to the support of many Board members, chairs, co-chairs, and members of CALA committees and task forces, and CALA chapters for their hard and excellent work to make the 2010-2011 another successful year for CALA!  I want to express my profound thanks to CALA members for their trust and for the opportunity to serve as President of this great organization.