Brian E. C. Schottlaender, ALCTS President
"Business Committees, Discussion Groups, and Interest Groups-Oh, My!"
This past spring the ALCTS membership issued in a new era by passing a Bylaws change that will enable the development and use of a new category in ALCTS' organizational structure, the Interest Group (IG). Quoting from text soon to be added to the ALCTS Manual, the interest Group concept is intended to "ensure that any group of ten or more individuals with a common interest within the scope of ALCTS may establish a forum in which to exchange ideas and experiences; sponsor formal conference programs, institutes, and seminars; or prepare publications." The Interest Group category, in other words, offers the ALCTS membership a more expansive role within ALCTS, ALA, and the library community in general by merging the programmatic and publications capabilities of a Committee with the open forum and expanded membership characteristics of a Discussion Group. The organization of an Interest Group itself is sufficiently fluid to allow for a Chair and other officers, selected by the group's membership as it thinks appropriate and necessary, along with task forces, sub-groups, and/or working groups to provide timely and focused consideration of issues.
At its Annual 2003 meetings in Toronto, the ALCTS Board of Directors addressed its own composition and its relationships with the Division and Section groups of ALCTS. One of the outcomes of those discussions was the notion of the "Business Committee," defined as one whose role is primarily management of the business of the Association. These committees include Budget and Finance, Education, Fundraising, International Relations, Leadership Development, Membership, Nominating, Organization and Bylaws, Planning, Program, and Publications.
In addition, the Board discussed the Association's Division-level "topical committees," including the Catalog Form and Function Committee, Commercial Technical Services Committee, Committee on Research and Statistics, Legislation Committee, Media Resources Committee, Networked Resources and Metadata Committee, and Publisher/Vendor-Library Relations Committee. The Board agreed that the work of such committees would best be carried forward in the Interest Group format. Those topical committees, therefore, that wish to avail themselves of the option, will be re-constituted as Interest Groups.
The Organization and Bylaws Committee is hard at work drafting the procedures for implementing the IG concept, procedures that should be finalized shortly and added to the ALCTS Manual. In the meantime, I thought I'd like to take this opportunity to answer a few of the questions that have already come to people's minds.
Q: What does it take to actually establish an Interest Group?
Q: When do IGs meet?
A: At a minimum, at the ALA Annual Conference. Additionally, the group can also meet at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The meeting at Annual is the group's business meeting, when officers are elected and other business is taken care of.
Q: What officers can, or need, IGs have?
A: At a minimum, a Chair. Additionally, they can also have a Co-Chair, a Vice-Chair, or a Secretary. Officers-who are selected at Annual-serve for a year, renewable once.
Q: What kind of programming can IGs do?
Q: What is the lifespan of IGs?
A: Three years, following which a petition for IG renewal can be submitted.