Task Force Background
Issues and Concerns
Creating a More Mutually Beneficial Relationship
ACRL Member Outreach
Roles and Responsibilities of Chapters, Chapters Council, and ACRL
Summary of Recommendations
ACRL Chapters Relations Task Force Members
The ACRL Chapters Relations Task Force was created by the ACRL Board at the 1996 ALA Annual Conference in New York. Members of the Task Force, who were appointed by the ACRL Executive Committee in the fall of 1996, are: John Collins (co-chair), Ray English (co-chair), Rena Fowler, Barbara Baxter Jenkins, Victoria A. Montavon, Linda Muroi, J. Fred Olive, Henry R. Stewart, and Lee Marie Wisel. The task force was formed to resolve long-standing concerns, as summarized in the Issues and Concerns section below, and given a broad charge to define a more mutually beneficial and reinforcing relationship between ACRL and its affiliate chapters in accordance with the goals of the ACRL Strategic Plan.
The task force met four times at midwinter and annual conferences and it also discussed specific issues through electronic mail. In developing this report, the task force has attempted to create a broad consensus among representatives of ACRL and the chapters on major questions that define their relationship. Preliminary proposals from the task force, including funding for chapters, were discussed at the Chapters Council meeting at the 1997 annual conference in San Francisco. The first draft of this report was distributed and discussed at the Chapters Council meeting at the 1998 midwinter conference in New Orleans. The task force also received feedback on the draft report from chapter officers who are not members of Chapters Council. Financial aspects of the report were discussed at a joint meeting of the ACRL Budget and Finance Committee and the ACRL Board in New Orleans. Other issues were discussed via electronic mail with members of the ACRL Executive Committee and at an informal meeting of the ACRL Board in New Orleans.
In pursuing its work, the task force drew on a document entitled "ACRL and Its Chapters: Benefits and Challenges for the Future," which was created by William Miller (then ACRL Vice-President / President Elect) and distributed prior to the New York meeting. Two other documents, "Concerns of ACRL and ACRL Chapters" and "Improving the Relationship Between ACRL and ACRL Chapters," which were written by a subcommittee of the Budget and Finance Committee in 1994, provided additional background. The task force also drew on aspects of the report of the ACRL Sections Task Force, which was submitted to the ACRL Board in 1997, and it took into consideration the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures and the ACRL Bylaws (in both their current form and as proposed for revision.)
Under current policy ACRL establishes a chapter upon the petition of at least twenty-five ACRL national members residing in a particular geographical area. ACRL's first chapter was established in 1951 and the association now has a total of forty-two state and regional affiliates. Chapters fall into two categories: slightly more than half serve as the academic division of their state library association, and slightly less than half are independent entities. While chapters may admit members who do not belong to ACRL, the ACRL Bylaws require that the president (chair) and the vice-president (vice-chair) be members of the national association. Chapters may be dissolved at their request by the ACRL Board or if they become inactive or fail to comply with the provisions for chapters in the ACRL Bylaws.
ACRL's chapters have historically had a great deal of autonomy. They may adopt their own bylaws, develop programs, establish criteria for dues and membership, and communicate with their members through newsletters and listservs. According to the ACRL Bylaws, chapters are expected to hold at least one meeting a year (unless they are affiliated with an organization that normally meets biennially); to send written reports of their meetings to ACRL within one month of each meeting; to submit to ACRL a list of their officers; and to provide funds to support chapter activities.
ACRL provides several means of financial support for chapters. It allots to each chapter up to $0.75 for each personal member of ACRL living within the geographic region served by the chapter. Requests for such funds must be submitted by the chapter to the ACRL office, with documentation of expenses. Chapters may also apply to have projects funded through the ACRL Initiative Fund and ACRL officers may be funded to visit chapters to speak at their meetings.
The ACRL Chapters Council, which consists of representatives from each chapter, meets regularly at midwinter and annual meetings. Its primary purpose is to consider matters of mutual concern to chapters. Among other responsibilities, it serves as a forum for the exchange of information among chapters, it promotes chapter development, and it communicates chapter concerns to the ACRL Board.
In reviewing the relationship between chapters and ACRL the task force has identified and considered several issues and concerns:
- Degree of independence. The fact that chapters have been largely autonomous has caused concern among some members of ACRL that chapters may not be sufficiently accountable to ACRL and that their activities may not always be in harmony with the association's goals. Chapters, on the other hand, greatly value their independence and their ability to chart their own direction. Given these differences in viewpoint, it is important to clarify the degree of independence chapters have, since it is a fundamental aspect of their relationship with ACRL.
- Liability. Several of ACRL's independent chapters are not incorporated. Legal advice has made it clear that ACRL could be held liable for the actions of a chapter that is not incorporated or not a part of a state association that is incorporated. Related to the question of liability, there is also concern that chapter publications and program announcements may need to make clear that chapters are separate entities from ACRL and that the national association is not responsible for chapter programs and other activities. Similarly, ACRL's website, which has the capacity to link seamlessly to chapter websites, may need to make clear that chapters are separate from ACRL.
- Communication. Communication between ACRL and chapters has been an ongoing concern. Many chapter members believe that communication tends to be from ACRL "down" to chapters, rather than a reciprocal flow of information between equal partners. They also believe that the important role chapters play for ACRL has not been sufficiently recognized by the national association. Among ACRL members there is some sense that chapters do not sufficiently report their activities to ACRL, or at least that the ACRL leadership is not sufficiently aware of their activities.
- Funding. Funding from ACRL is also an ongoing concern. The current funding model provides little incentive to chapters to assist in recruiting new members to ACRL or in recruiting ACRL national members to the chapter. Chapters remain unhappy with the amount of general support provided by ACRL, a lingering effect of the 1992-93 reduction in per capita funding from $1.50 to $0.75. While some members of ACRL feel that chapters should be more accountable for the ACRL funds they expend, chapters feel strongly that current policies and procedures for receiving funding already have too many strings attached.
- Membership recruitment. Representatives of both parties agree that ACRL and the chapters have not been very successful in working together to increase either ACRL membership or the number of ACRL members who belong to chapters.
- ACRL member outreach. There is concern that some chapters do not provide outreach to, or opportunities for, ACRL members who live in the chapter region, but are not chapter members. In some chapters, for example, ACRL members who are not members of the chapter do not receive registration discounts at chapter conferences, even though their ACRL dues indirectly support the chapter's programs.
In developing this report, the task force has attempted to address the concerns described above by clarifying the basic nature of the relationship between ACRL and its chapters, by describing how the relationship might be improved, and by recommending specific measures that should enable ACRL and its chapters to work more productively to each others benefit.
In examining the role of chapters, the task force has been impressed by the enormous range of their activities. It is obvious that chapters create significant value for ACRL. Chapters give ACRL a local presence; they promote professional development, particularly among those who cannot realistically participate in ACRL on a national basis; they provide opportunities for leadership development; and they assist in legislative advocacy.
Since chapters have functioned for the most part quite effectively, the task force sees no compelling reason to recommend a change in their degree of autonomy or their basic relationship with ACRL. The task force is convinced, for a variety of reasons, that chapters will function best if their current degree of independence is reaffirmed.
The need for chapters to incorporate (or be part of a separately incorporated entity) in order to avoid potential liability for ACRL reinforces their fundamental independence from ACRL. Changes that are underway in redrafting the ACRL Bylaws are also consistent with this degree of independence. The proposed revision in the bylaws makes it clear that chapters are separate organizations interested in academic and research libraries that request affiliation with ACRL. In other words, ACRL recognizes as a chapter of the association an organization that meets certain criteria. ACRL affiliates with the chapter; it does not, however, establish the chapter as an organization, it does not control it, and it is not responsible for its actions.
The fact that chapters stand on their own helps to resolve some of the issues and concerns surrounding their relationship with ACRL. Chapters are independent entities that, by virtue of their chapter status, work in partnership with ACRL toward the advancement of common goals. Their status is therefore different from a section, which is a more integral part of the association. (Sections are by definition a division of ACRL; they are composed of members of the national association and their activities are held in conjunction with the association's national meetings.)
In order for ACRL and its chapters to benefit from their affiliation, they must establish communication and other structures that reinforce each other's value and importance in the relationship. Communication must function as a means of furthering partnership between two parties that have equal standing, rather than as a means through which control is exercised by one party and reacted to by the other. The Chapters Council plays an essential role in insuring that communication flows in both directions in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation for the roles of both parties.
In the sections of this report that follow, the task force offers comment, suggestions and recommendations regarding chapter recognition, incorporation, funding, membership recruitment, disclaimer notices, and communication. These are followed by a summary of the responsibilities of chapters, of Chapters Council, and of ACRL as we envision them. Formal recommendations of the task force are summarized at the end of the report.
Under the revised ACRL Bylaws, a chapter will be a local, state or regional group that has requested affiliation with ACRL and has been recognized as a chapter of ACRL by the ACRL Board. An organization thus becomes a chapter by affiliating with ACRL, rather than by being established by the national association. A chapter's affiliation may be dissolved at its request by the Board and its affiliation will be dissolved if the chapters becomes inactive or fails to comply with bylaws provisions regarding chapters. These bylaws changes are consistent with the thrust of the task force's report, which affirms the independence of chapters.
The task force recommends to the ACRL Board:
- that new chapters either incorporate or belong to a state association that is incorporated within one year of their recognition by ACRL,
- that existing chapters incorporate or become a part of an incorporated state association by the end of the year 2000, and
- that ACRL working through the Chapters Council, provide guidance and advice to chapters on the process of incorporation.
Legal advice has made it clear that ACRL could be held liable for the actions of a chapter that is not incorporated. In order to insure their independent status and also resolve concerns about liability for ACRL, it is essential that chapters incorporate or be a division of an incorporated state library association.
The question of funding for chapters has been the most difficult issue considered by the task force. In addition to considering what level of basic funding is appropriate for chapters, the task force has looked at a several ways in which it might be possible to increase financial incentives to chapters to promote membership in ACRL and to encourage ACRL national members to join chapters. Record keeping and administration prove to be significant difficulties in funding models that are based on the number of ACRL members who are also members of the chapter. A chapter has no way to determine which of its members belong to ACRL, unless it checks its chapter list--name by name--against a list of ACRL members in its region—a cumbersome process at best. It would also be administratively difficult to require chapters to submit list of their members to ACRL for centralized checking.
The solution recommended by the task force has two components—a modest increase in the current per capita allocation to chapters and a direct incentive for recruiting new members to ACRL.
The task force recommends to the ACRL Board
- that funding for each ACRL chapter be increased from $0.75 to $1.00 for each ACRL national member living within the geographic region served by the chapter; and that the small chapter allocation be continued at its current level,
- that ACRL, beginning in the 1999-2000 fiscal year, provide additional funding to chapters in the amount of $10 for each new member of ACRL in the chapter's geographic region (as indicated by the new member's preferred ALA mailing address) who joined in the previous fiscal year, if the chapter conducted ACRL membership recruitment activities and summarized them in its annual report (see the Communication section below), and
- that, with the exception of the requirement to submit annual reports (see Communication section below), ACRL limit restrictions on funds allocated to chapters to those required by ALA policy.
The recommended increase in the per capita allocation would provide chapters a modest increase in their base funding. If implemented, this increase in chapter funding, which supports basic chapter activities, would underscore the value of chapters to ACRL. As has been the case in the past, chapters could increase their base funding from ACRL by working to increase the number of ACRL members living in the chapter region. The cost to ACRL of implementing the increase is modest, approximately $3,750 per year.
In addition to the increase in the per capita allocation, chapters that have conducted ACRL membership recruitment activities would receive one-time funds based on the number of new ACRL members in the region who joined the previous year. A "new member" is defined as a member who is new to ACRL; the category would not include lapsed members who have reinstated or current members who have moved from one geographic region to another. The task force believes that this funding arrangement would provide a significant incentive to encourage chapters to work with the ACRL membership committee and Chapters Council to recruit new ACRL members both to ACRL national and to the local chapter. The new member allocation would be simple and easy for ACRL staff to carry out, since it can be accommodated using records currently maintained in the ACRL office in addition to the information provided by the chapter in its annual report. The allocation will have a positive budgetary impact to the extent that ACRL can succeed in retaining the new members who join.
In considering the process by which funds are awarded to chapters, the task force favors the general principles included in the Sections Funding Task Force. The basic idea is to simplify the process of requesting funds, to limit requirements to those imposed by ALA policies, and to trust chapters to use their funding in accordance with the ACRL Strategic Plan. ALA policy prohibits ACRL funds being used by chapters for speaker travel and honoraria for librarians living in the chapter region, software, audiovisual production, and capital equipment.
a. Annual Report for Chapter Activities
The task force recommends to the ACRL Board:
- that each ACRL affiliate chapter be expected to submit a brief, one page annual report of its activities to the ACRL office by September 1 of each year, including in the report a statement of how the chapter's activities supported the ACRL Strategic Plan in regard to the goals of professional development and legislative issues, and what activities the chapter may have undertaken to promote membership recruitment,
- that the form appended to this report be used by each chapter in submitting its report,
- that all chapter annual reports be distributed to both the ACRL Board and the ACRL Chapters Council, and
- that both regular allocation and new member funding be withheld from any chapter that fails to submit an annual report for two consecutive years; that such funding be reinstated once a chapter has submitted an annual report; and that compliance with the reporting requirement be monitored by ACRL staff.
To help insure that chapters are working in general harmony with the goals of ACRL, it is important that they report regularly to ACRL on their activities. It is also important that chapter reports be distributed to the Board of Directors to make the ACRL leadership aware of the range and scope of chapter activities. Members of the task force believe that it is also reasonable to withhold funding from any ACRL chapter that fails for two consecutive years to report on its activities.
b. Communication of ACRL Plans and Activities
The task force recommends to the ACRL Board:
that an annual summary and update of the ACRL Strategic Plan be mailed to each ACRL affiliate chapter and the Chapter Council officers.
Regular communication to chapters and Chapters Council about the ACRL Strategic Plan and ACRL activities that are carrying out the plan should help to insure that chapters are in a position to work in harmony with the goals and general direction of ACRL.
c. Annual Discussion of Board Plans and Chapter Activities
The task force recommends to the ACRL Board:
that an annual meeting be held between the Chapters Council officers and representatives of the ACRL Board for the purpose of considering issues of mutual concern.
A regular forum for informal communication between the officers of Chapters Council and representatives of the ACRL Board should help to insure that the ACRL Board remains aware of concerns at the chapter level and that chapters are aware of ACRL's general direction and any concerns that the Board may have regarding chapter activities. Such a forum should also help to insure that ACRL and chapters are working collaboratively on such issues as legislative advocacy, membership recruitment, and professional development. The Chapters Council meetings, though they are regularly attended by ACRL officers, are not well suited for the give-and-take communication that is needed to foster a more mutually-reinforcing relationship between ACRL and its chapters.
The chapter funding for new members of ACRL provides an opportunity for the ACRL membership committee to work in conjunction with the Chapters Council and individual chapters to encourage membership drives at the chapter level. While the task force believes that no formal recommendation to the Board is required, it hopes that the Membership Committee and the Chapters Council will work on a variety of strategies to encourage chapter membership initiatives. At a minimum, chapters should be made aware of the new funding and literature relating to ACRL membership should be made available to them.
The task force recommends to the ACRL Board:
that chapters be encouraged to offer opportunities, such as discounts on conference registration, to ACRL members who are not members of the chapter.
Chapters that are divisions of a state association may be limited in what breaks they can offer to ACRL members in their region who do not belong to the chapter. It is, however, desirable for chapters to offer discounts on conference registrations and other similar breaks to ACRL members whenever possible. Such incentives may encourage participation by ACRL members in chapter activities and lead to increased ACRL membership in the chapter. Incentives are also appropriate, since the ACRL member's dues indirectly support the chapter's activities.
ACRL legal counsel has suggested that it may be advisable for chapters to include a disclaimer statement on print materials advertising programs that receive funds from ACRL. The task force believes that the autonomous nature of chapters, as described in this report, as implied in the revised ACRL bylaws, and as legally embodied through the process of incorporation, provides sufficient protection to ACRL in this regard. The task force agrees, however, that it would be advisable for ACRL to include language in the ACRL website that makes clear that chapters are separate organizations that are affiliated with ACRL; the website should also make it evident to the user that chapter websites are maintained separately from the ACRL site.
Beginning in 1997-98 ACRL has established a policy of providing each chapter, at its request, one list or set of mailing labels of all ACRL national members living in the chapter's geographic region. Each chapter is entitled to one free list or set of mailing labels each year.
The following are the roles and responsibilities of chapters, Chapters Council, and ACRL as envisioned by the task force:
a. Roles and Responsibilities of Chapters
Affiliated chapters are important partners for ACRL. Although they are largely independent, they provide a local presence for ACRL and assist in attaining the goals of the ACRL Strategic Plan. They foster professional development, particularly for those who cannot participate at the national level; they participate in legislative advocacy; and they promote ACRL membership.
Programming. Chapters offer a variety of programs that advance the professional development goals of ACRL.
Legislative network . Chapters participate in the ACRL legislative network in order to advance the ACRL legislative agenda.
Membership recruitment. Each chapter has a financial incentive to recruit new members to the chapter and to ACRL. Chapters are encouraged to plan membership drives in collaboration with the ACRL membership committee and the Chapters Council.
Chapters Council. Each chapter participates in Chapters Council through two representatives who have one vote on behalf of the chapter. Representatives are the president (chair) and vice-president (vice-chair) or a delegate who is a member of the executive board of the chapter and also a member of ACRL.
Officers. The president (chair) and vice-president (vice-chair) of each chapter are members of ACRL.
Incorporation. Each ACRL chapter is responsible either for incorporating itself or belonging to a state association that is incorporated. New chapters must incorporate or belong to a state association within one year of their recognition by ACRL. Existing ACRL chapters must incorporate or belong to a state association that is incorporated by the end of the year 2000.
Bylaws. Each chapter adopts its own bylaws, provided they are not in conflict with ACRL's bylaws.
Meetings. Each chapter holds one meeting each year, unless it is a member of a state association that has biennial meetings.
Officer lists. Each ACRL chapter submits a list of its officers to the ACRL office within one month of the election.
Annual reports . Each chapter submits a brief, one-page annual report to the ACRL office by September 1 of each year. The report summarizes the chapter's activities and specifies how the chapters met the goals of the ACRL Strategic Plan regarding professional development and legislative issues. The report also notes efforts the chapter may have made to recruit new members to the chapter and to ACRL. Chapters are aware their funding from ACRL will be withheld if they do not submit an annual report for two consecutive years.
Outreach to ACRL national members . Each chapter is encouraged to offer opportunities, such as breaks on conference registration, to ACRL members living in their region who are not members of the chapter.
Disaffiliation. In the event that a chapter becomes inactive, or for other reasons chooses to disaffiliate, the chapter notifies ACRL of its intention to dissolve its affiliation with the association.
b. Responsibilities of Chapters Council
Chapters Council serves as ACRL's primary forum for dealing with the interests and concerns of ACRL chapters. It serves as the central means of communication among chapters and between chapters and ACRL. Its specific responsibilities are the following:
Information sharing . Chapters Council facilitates the exchange of information among chapters.
Chapter Topics . Chapters Council coordinates the publication of Chapter Topics, which serves at a primary means of communicating chapter activities and concerns among chapters and to the ACRL Board.
Communication with Board . Chapters Council regularly apprises the ACRL Board of chapter activities and concerns. Chapters Council officers meet annually with representatives of the ACRL Board to discuss issues of mutual concern.
ACRL information . Chapters Council promotes the dissemination of information about ACRL to local chapters.
Chapter development . Chapters Council promotes the organization and development of ACRL Chapters.
Membership recruitment . The Chapters Council cooperates with ACRL, and particularly with the ACRL membership committee, in promoting ACRL membership.
Legislative network . The Chapters Council works with the ACRL Board, the ACRL staff member responsible for government relations, and the ACRL Government Relations Committee to coordinate the ACRL legislative network and advance the ACRL legislative agenda.
Elections . Chapters Council holds elections for Chapters Council officers.
Directors at Large . Chapters Council nominates biannually two at-large candidates for the ACRL Board.
Leadership Council . The Chair and vice-Chair of Chapters Council attend ACRL Leadership Council meetings.
Presidential Candidates Forum . The Chapters Council organizes the ACRL Presidential Candidates Forum at every mid-winter meeting.
Annual Report . The Chapters Council submits each year an annual report to ACRL and makes it available to chapters.
c. Responsibilities of ACRL
ACRL recognizes the importance of its affiliate chapters by supporting their work in a variety of ways.
Funding . ACRL provides funding for chapters in the amount of $1.00 for each ACRL personal member living in the geographic region served by the chapter. Beginning in the 1999-2000 fiscal year, ACRL grants to each chapter $10 for each new ACRL member living in the chapter's geographic region who joined ACRL during the previous fiscal year, if the chapter conducted ACRL membership recruitment activities during the previous year and summarized them in its annual report.
Chapters Topics . ACRL funds, prints, and distributes Chapter Topics.
Initiative Fund . ACRL supports new initiatives by chapters through the Initiative Fund process. Chapters may apply each year for an Initiative Fund grant of up $2,500. Projects are awarded on a competitive basis and should meet the goals of the ACRL Strategic Plan.
Speakers . ACRL provides funds for ACRL officers (ACRL president, president-elect, executive director, and past-president) to travel to and speaker at ACRL chapter meetings. Speakers are requested by the individual chapter. Funds are generally available for each chapter to be visited approximately once every three years.
Membership Lists . ACRL provides each year at no cost to the chapter one list of ACRL members living in the chapter's geographic region.
Officer Lists . ACRL maintains and makes available a list of officers from each chapter.
Chapter Reports . The ACRL office receives chapter annual reports each year and circulates them to the ACRL Board and the ACRL Chapters Council. The office monitors compliance with the chapter reporting expectation and withholds ACRL funds from any chapter that does not submit an annual report for two consecutive years.
ACRL Plans and Activities . The ACRL Office provides an annual summary and update of the ACRL Strategic Plan to each ACRL affiliate chapter and the Chapters Council officers.
Meeting with Chapters Council Officers . Representatives of the ACRL Board meet annually with Chapters Council officers to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Websites . ACRL maintains wording on the ACRL website that makes clear that chapters are separate organizations that are affiliated with ACRL; the website also makes it evident to the user that chapter websites are separate from the ACRL site; the website lists chapters and provides links to their webpages.
The ACRL Chapters Relations Task Force recommends to the ACRL Board
- That funding for each ACRL chapter be increased from $0.75 to $1.00 for each ACRL national member living in within the geographic region served by the chapter, and that the small chapter allocation be continued at its current level.
- That ACRL, beginning in the 1999-2000 fiscal year, provide additional funding to chapters in the amount of $10 for each new member of ACRL in the chapter's geographic region who joined in the previous fiscal year, if the chapter conducted ACRL membership recruitment activities and summarized them in its annual report.
- That, with the exception of the requirement to submit annual reports, ACRL limit restrictions on funds allocated to chapters to those required by ALA policy.
- That each ACRL affiliate chapter be expected to submit a brief, one page annual report of its activities to the ACRL Office by September 1 of each year, including in it a statement of how the chapter's activities supported the ACRL Strategic Plan in regard to the goals of professional development and legislative issues; that the form appended to this report be used by each chapter in submitting its report; that all chapter annual reports be distributed to both the ACRL Chapters Council and the ACRL Board; that both the regular allocation and new member funding be withheld from any chapter that fails to submit an annual report for two consecutive years; and that such funding be reinstated once a chapter has submitted an annual report.
- That an annual summary and update of the ACRL Strategic Plan be mailed to each ACRL affiliate chapter and the Chapters Council officers.
- That an annual meeting be held between the Chapters Council officers and representatives of the ACRL Board for the purpose of considering issues of mutual concern.
- That new chapters either incorporate or belong to a state association that is incorporated within one year of their recognition by ACRL; that existing chapters incorporate or become a part of an incorporated state association by the end of the year 2000; and that ACRL provide guidance and advice to chapters on the process of incorporation.
- That chapters be encouraged to offer opportunities, such as discounts on conference registration, to ACRL members who are not members of the chapter.
John Collins (co-chair), 1996-97 Chapters Council President
Ray English (co-chair), Chair, ACRL Budget and Finance Committee, ACRL Board
Rena Fowler, ACRL Budget and Finance Committee
Barbara Baxter Jenkins, 1997-98 Chapters Council President
Victoria A. Montavon, ACRL Board
Linda Muroi, ACRL Board
J. Fred Olive
Henry R. Stewart
Lee Marie Wisel