ABA Board: Adapting to Ever-Changing Pandemic; Futurecasting

In a letter to booksellers in Bookselling This Week, the American Booksellers Association board officers reported in part about the board's May meeting and areas it plans to focus on in the future. Among them is the future itself, particularly in the context of "a world still ruled by a pandemic and its ever-changing circumstances."

Some of those dynamics have affected the board. "This year we've had Board members leave before the end of their terms due to unforeseen changes in their personal and professional lives," officers wrote. "These sudden pivots are consistently challenging and we continue to learn from each experience, but they also present the need for us to adapt and simplify our way of doing things. This means we, as a Board and as an organization, need to adjust how we conduct everything--from Board recruitment and time commitments to what Board service looks like in the face of this new way of life. In short, ABA, like many of you, is fast discovering what the new business-as-usual is to create built-in flexibility everywhere."

In one resulting change, the Nominating Committee will accept nominations year-round "to ensure that viable Board candidates are in the pipeline at all times." The board also plans to propose bylaws changes "to accommodate for the much-needed flexibility of these current times."

At its May meeting, the board met with representatives from Bookshop.org and Above the Treeline/Edelweiss. And a full day was spent on "futurecasting," considering in particular "the Future of Bookselling and the Board's Role in Preparing for the Future." These included "challenges and opportunities for the bookselling industry and the ABA Board's role in positioning ABA to meet these challenges and opportunities."

The board noted that the ABA is "on track" with the budget for the current year. Among other activities, the board is conducting "a rolling review" of four vendors that the board hires and that report to the board: auditor, general counsel, investment manager, and compliance & ethics hotline vendor. In addition, the board is creating new board subcommittees, including a Board Finance Committee that will "help the Board review ABA's endowment investment policy with the future in mind."

The board meeting began with a new regular addition to the agenda--a reminder that the ABA's Ends Policies prioritize a "commitment to antiracism, equity, access, and representation." Later board discussion at one point centered on "how improvements can be made that support the Board's commitment to equity and inclusion. There was specific discussion about how white Board members can better support BIPOC Board members and how others could be better allies--i.e., speaking up when we hear racist language, etc."

The board encouraged members to attend the ABA's annual meeting and town hall on Thursday, July 14, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern. Booksellers can submit questions or comments ahead of time at townhall@bookweb.org, or to speak or submit questions during the meeting.

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