ALA: Alternative Media Task Force

ALA SRRT: Alternative Media Task Force Meeting
6/28/08, 8-10 AM, Disney’s Paradise Pier, Room: Pacific C

Members Alan Mattlage, U Maryland, and Rory Litwin, U Minnesota, and Gerardo Colmenar, UC Santa Barbara, plan to revive and expand the Alternative Media Task Force. The AMTF traditionally acknowledged a progressive perspective in keeping with the policies of SRRT (Social Responsibilities Task Force). A complete description of the subgroup’s origin and goals appears on their website. Efforts in the past have focused on two key initiatives:

  • Alternative Media Reception (formerly known as the Free Speech Buffet). ALA’s Cognotes described the event, “AMT organizes the Alternative Media Reception annually to provide a venue for small, progressive and independent publishers/distributors and their materials” [Cognotes, to the best of my knowledge, has not been posted for Annual 2008 yet, either on the wiki or the ALA site]
  • Jackie Eubanks Memorial Award. This award was presented during the Buffet between the years 1995-2004. A full description of the award is on the AMTF website. The Task Force would like to revive the award. Could it be a non-monetary award? Could it be presented to an “individual or organization” who has made a significant contribution to alternative media?

Litwin established his own publishing company, Library Juice Press. One publication that came to my attention is Byron Anderson’s Alternative Publishers of Books in North America. Mattladge was preparing a future ACRL presentation that will consider alternative media and library ethics. Colmenar distributed a brochure for the Alternative Media Reception that listed exhibitors.

As a newbie, I asked a lot of questions. First, I inquired about how “alternative media” is defined. I always considered it as small presses / citizen media that are not run off big media / corporate funds. Could media include print, radio, television, newspapers, and music? Does it have to be progressive or can it be conservative? Traditionally it has been progressive in keeping with the SSRT goals.

What about media reform? How do we respond to the annual National Media Reform Conference? What is the F.C.C. doing? The AMTF’s history notes that the Alternatives in Publication Task force merged with the Information Policy in the Public Interest Task Force in 2006. Policy that effects the diversity of media is a critical and current issue for discussion.

What are the differences between the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and the AMRT? OITFs focus is on the freedom of information; AMRT’s focus is on the market effects of information production (RL’s distinction). Are there areas of overlap? How does it relate to the Office of Information Technology Policy (OITP)?

Other questions were posed:

My interest in the AMTF stems in part from Ithaca College’s Park Center for Independent Media that launched this year, in part, simply, as it is an important question for all citizens.

Anyone interested in the task force that organizes the above mentioned activities should peruse the AMTF page on and contact Rory Litwin to be added to the listserv. A recent post to the listserv & Library Juice (Litwin’s blog) is the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s report, “Fostering Media Diversity in Libraries: Strategies and Actions.” Somehow I missed the June 2007 release of this report entirely. All librarians interested interested in “media diversity” should read it.