Spotlight on the Council of Regional Groups

Spotlight on the Council of Regional Groups

Cynthia Clark, Chair, Council of Regional Groups, cclark@nypl.org

The Council of Regional Groups (CRG) is one of ALCTS’ best-kept secrets. Although it has existed in various forms since 1923, few ALCTS members know much about it. As stated in the ALA Handbook of Organization, its official mission is:
To encourage activities of [ALCTS] regional group affiliates and assist them with information and advice relevant to their programs... consider problems common to or affecting the work of regional groups ... recommend to the division such as it deems to be in the interest of group activities.
The history of the CRG began in 1922 when Margaret Mann, then chair of the Committee on the Reorganization of the Catalog Section, called for catalogers around the country to hold regional meetings to deliberate on reorganization planning and common themes. A report submitted at the 1923 ALA Conference recommended that the Catalog Section authorize regional meetings and adopt rules for the affiliated groups. Representatives of each regional group formed the Advisory Council whose name was changed in 1947 to the Council of Regional Groups.

In the years since CRG was founded, many regional and state-based library organizations affiliated with ALCTS. No longer focused solely on cataloging, the scope of their interests includes acquisitions, cataloging, collection development, preservation or technology, in various combinations. A number of regional groups are connected to state organizations that serve as chapters of ALA. Some are thriving, vibrant, independent groups serving metropolitan areas with large memberships. Some cross state lines to serve librarians and support staff in areas where boundaries intersect. Some fill a networking role in sparsely populated states. Today there are forty-nine groups in approximately thirty-five states and the District of Columbia. California, Ohio, New York and Texas boast from two to three affiliated groups each. The affiliated groups form a network that extends ALCTS' reach beyond the national organization and conferences to librarians and support staff around the country. Indeed, many of us were introduced to professional organizations and professional service in such groups. We volunteered for committees and got our first opportunity to lead committees, organize programs, and perhaps serve as officers. The affiliated groups are not merely stepping stones for those wanting to go on to bigger, national-level opportunities in ALCTS and ALA. Many perform an invaluable service to professionals and support staff who receive little or no funding to attend national conferences. A recent survey conducted by the CRG revealed a wealth of programming and workshops offered by the affiliated groups. No doubt many ALCTS members continue to be members of affiliated groups, developing and participating in these local offerings.

The Council of Regional Groups today continues its dual missions of serving an outreach role and advising ALCTS of the interests and continuing education needs of affiliated groups. It is uniquely positioned to promote ALCTS membership and professional development opportunities. Similarly, it can inform ALCTS of the needs of professionals and support staff and the successful programming being offered by the affiliated organizations with the potential for a broader audience.

Its four committees and their functions are:

  • The Affiliate Relations Committee maintains contact with affiliated groups, solicits information on their activities, and provides advice and information relevant to their programs.
  • The Speakers’ Bureau Committee produces and maintains a list of ALCTS and other technical services leaders who are available to affiliated groups as speakers at no charge, except for expenses.
  • The Nominating Committee identifies candidates for the two elected officers: secretary and vice-chair/chair-elect.
  • The Continuing Education (CE) Committee met for the first time in January and will work closely with the division-level committees and the section education committee. It serves as a conduit from affiliated groups to ALCTS for examples of successful CE programs and from ALCTS to promote training that can be held in local venues. The CE Committee will also facilitate hosting by affiliated groups of ALCTS-created continuing education programming.
The CRG Web site includes links to the affiliated groups’ Web sites and contact information, a history of CRG itself, and rosters of its current committees. The council officers and representatives of affiliated groups meet during the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference, providing an opportunity for exchange among groups and with ALCTS. Between conferences, we communicate via a listserv maintained for the CRG Executive Committee and Affiliated Group contacts.

Now that the secret is out, check out the CRG Website! We welcome your participation in our activities, as well as ideas for collaboration between ALCTS and its affiliated groups.