From the Office Charles Wilt ALCTS Executive Director volunteer

charles wilt, alcts executive director Letters from ALCTS

From the Office

Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director

Volunteering: Part II of II

In my June column, I discussed volunteering for ALCTS committees: the perils, pitfalls, rewards, and sense of accomplishment.

For this column, I want to discuss opportunities that you can make for yourself (with a little help from your friends): discussion groups and interest groups.

ALCTS has a broad array of both groups at the division level and in each section. Here is some information for you as a starting point.

Discussion Groups

Any group of ten or more members interested in discussing common concerns which fall within the object of the Association may form a discussion group upon written petition from the group, and upon approval by either the Board of Directors or the Section Executive Committee. The petition includes the purpose of the group and the requirements for membership (if any). Membership is open to Association members who are interested in the group's purpose and who fulfill the requirements for membership in the group. Each group elects a chair annually. In addition to the regular duties of the office, the chair sees that the group's activities are limited to discussion of common issues within the purpose of the group, that the group engages in no activity in conflict with the program of the Association or its sections, and that the Association bylaws are observed by the group.

Interest Groups

Any group of members of the Association with a common interest that falls within the Association may petition to form an interest group, subject to approval by the Board of Directors or Section Executive Committee. The written petition includes the purpose of the group and the requirements for membership (if any), and the signature of ten (or more) members in good standing with the Association. Interest groups may join with one or more other ALA units to form a joint interest group with approval of the Board of Directors.

Membership is open to Association members who are interested in the group's purpose and who fulfill the requirements for membership (if any) in the group. Each group elects a chair annually, and may elect other officers as required to carry out the business of the group. The chair coordinates the overall activities of the group, presides at meetings and is responsible for reporting group activities.

They sound very similar in set up and structure and they are in fact. The big difference is what each group can do. Discussion groups are limited to discussing topics. Interest groups, however, can develop programs and produce publications. The basis for both is the emphasis on providing a forum at both Midwinter and Annual for the interaction of ideas.

So am I including DGs and IGs (as they are fondly referred known) in a column on volunteering? Because they are self-forming. One person with an idea, along with nine of his very closest friends or new acquaintances, can petition to start a DG or IG. It is also not a lifelong commitment. DGs and IGs are meant to come and go (some do not, and that is okay, particularly if they are still relevant). And it is not as though there is not enough good material out there. Or how about a new member DG or student DG? Lots of possibilities exist.

It is really creating your own volunteer opportunity. Some of our very best leaders have their roots in DGs and IGs. In addition to starting one, most DGs and IGs are looking for people to become involved, even as chair. There are plenty of examples of new ALCTS members taking the reins of a DG in particular and at both the division level and section level.

Are you interested? Take a look at what DGs and IGs are already offered by ALCTS and its Sections. See where your idea fits. Contact the Section chair if it fits there, or the chair of the Organization & Bylaws Committee if it fits the Division better.

You do need to do one thing though if you are looking to be involved or even vie for chair of an existing group: You need to attend the meeting and to introduce yourself.

You do need to do a few things if you want to start one. Develop the idea. Find others who are willing to help. Make the contacts. File the petition. And answer: Am I ready to do this? Can I do the work? Can I make it interesting?