ALSC Committee Work FAQ, or, “How Do I Get It Done?”

All the information below can be found in ALSC governance documentation, such as the website, Division Leadership Manual, and ALSC Handbook. However, we know that some questions come up more often than others, so we hope this FAQ/Pathfinder guide will help as you serve in your capacity as ALSC Division Leaders.

GENERAL

Q: I have a question. Who do I ask?
A: First check the documentation listed above, or your committee manual if your committee has one. If you can’t find the answer, it’s always appropriate to start with your Priority Group Consultant. A full list of PGCs and their committees is available on the online Leadership Roster.
Q: What if I am the PGC?
A: First check the documents listed above, then contact the ALSC President with a copy to the ALSC Executive Director.
 
APPOINTMENTS/ROSTERS
 
Q: Where do I find my committee’s roster?
A: Rosters are located on the ALSC website under “About ALSC,” then “ALSC Committees.” Each committee falls under a priority group. You must be logged into the ALA website in order to see contact information.
Q: I or a committee member would like to make an address change. Who do I contact?
A: Individual members need to update the ALA member database themselves by logging into the ALA website or calling ALA Customer Service (1-800-545-2433, press 5). As a courtesy, the member should also notify his/her chair. A member on an award or media evaluation committee will need to contact his/her chair and also forward the update to alscawards@ala.org, indicating which committee he/she is serving.
Q: The roster on the website doesn’t look right to me; what should I do?
A: Contact the ALSC Executive Director.
Q: What if I or a committee member is interested in reappointment, or is not interested?
A: It is up to the ALSC Vice President/President Elect (for spring appointments), or the President (for fall) to make these decisions. Please fill out your own online volunteer form and email suggestions to the VP/P-E or President, and cc: the Executive Director.
Q: What if I’d like to recommend a current member to chair?
A: Same as above; email the VP/P-E or President, and cc: the Executive Director.
Q: What if I or a committee member needs to resign?
A: Same as above; email the VP/P-E or President, and cc: the Executive Director.
Q: How do I know when my term finishes or ends, or if I’m eligible for reappointment?
A: When you’re appointed, you’re asked to sign a Committee Acceptance Form that indicates your dates of service. Additionally, the term dates are located next to your name on your online rosters. Chairs and members are eligible one time for reappointment. Book award and Nominating committees have special rules; please see the Committee Term Lengths and Frequency of Service header on the “Appointments Process” web page.

COMMITTEE WORK

Q: I am chairing a virtual committee this year. What resources are available?
A: Please refer to the Best Practices for Virtual Committee Work Wiki at http://wikis.ala.org/alsc/index.php/Best_Practices_for_Virtual_Committee_Work. All members are asked to review this resource prior to accepting appointment to ensure they are familiar and comfortable with the requirements and skills necessary to accept a virtual position.
Q: How do I report out about my committee or task force’s work?
A: PGCs, committee and task force chairs are required to submit a quarterly report to keep leadership in the loop about their work and issues they may be facing. The appropriate forms and detailed instructions are found on the website where the forms are located under “About ALSC,” “Committees,” then “forms.” Deadlines are posted with the link to the form. Currently online quarterly reports are due by the deadline (September 15, December 15, and February 15). Most process committees will submit a year-end report in lieu of May 15 quarterly report. Task force chairs will submit a final report with recommendations instead of the last quarterly report due closest to their charge deadline (skip the May quarterly report if a final report is due in June). Chairs should copy and paste the content of the form (received in an acknowledgement email) into a document and upload to ALA Connect to maintain the committee’s history.
 
Q: I am serving as a representative to another ALA committee or group due to my position as chair. What are my responsibilities?
A: Attend and participate in meetings and engage in communication related to projects, programs, and varied activities as long as it does not conflict with your ALSC committee meeting. Prepare reports and as appropriate make recommendations to ALSC regarding continuing cooperation, joint undertakings and programs. A Report from Representative or Liaison to ALA Units, other Associations, or Agencies is to be sent promptly following significant contacts.
Q: Our committee would like to make a charge/function statement change or a change to the membership composition. How do I go about this?
A: Fill out a Form K (found online under “About ALSC,” “Committees,” then “forms” in left hand navigation or in the Division Leadership Manual) and send it to the chairs of ALSC’s Organization and Bylaws Committee (contact information can be found on the online ALSC roster). If you need help developing the change, contact your PGC first.
Q: How does my committee’s activity/program/article/survey get promoted?
A: Chairs may contact the ALSC Blog manager; consult with the membership/marketing specialist; submit a paragraph to the newsletter or journal editor; post information on the ALSC-L electronic discussion list as well as external, related kinds of lists; create a committee presence on the ALSC Wiki.
Q: What if I’m having trouble reaching a committee member? If there is a pattern of not attending meetings/responding to emails/missing deadlines, etc.?
A: It might be more realistic for the chair or member in question to re-think his or her ability to commit fully, and tender a resignation to the ALSC President, cc:ing the Executive Director. We understand day jobs and family responsibilities come before volunteer work and respect members’ honesty if they’re having trouble meeting commitments. Allowing someone else to step in if you don’t have time helps ALSC continue to move forward, given that so much of our work is done by member volunteers.
Q: At the end of my chair term, how do I ensure smooth succession?
A: Keep a binder or file of your notes, reports, etc., and pass it on to the incoming chair, either in person at a Leadership and ALSC meeting if you’re both present, or via mail following the conference. Contact information is available on the online Leadership Roster. It’s also essential to upload meeting agendas and minutes to your committee space in ALA Connect for future committees to access and use to get up to speed.
Q: Who should I copy on my correspondence and questions?
A: Your PGC is your first point of contact and if applicable, the staff liaison (the Membership/Marketing Specialist for the Membership Committee, for example) should be copied. If there are issues that the PGC is not able to resolve, s/he will forward them to the ALSC President, President-Elect, and Past-President, and Executive Director. If your committee is having substantive discussion over tricky issues, it is o.k. to copy in the leaders mentioned above.
Q: My committee has manual updates to suggest. How?
A: The chair should collect all suggestions and submit them at one time at the end of the term of service to the PGC, ALSC President, and ALSC Executive Director. It is preferable that the changes are made using “track changes” and explanations/rationale provided in “comments” to the existing manual for review.
Q: My committee doesn’t have a manual. What if we want one?
A: Contact your PGC, who can advise you and/or forward the request on to the Executive Committee. If deemed necessary, the President may appoint a task force to work on a draft manual. In some cases, sitting committees have created draft manuals, but we recognize this may be impractical.
 
MEETINGS/CONFERENCES
Q: How do I set up a conference call for my committee?
A: Please contact your staff liaison (listed in the committee airtable) to schedule a conference call. Your liaison will work with you to select a date and time that do not conflict with another committee.
Q: How do I request to have a committee issue scheduled on the Board agenda?
A: Requests to appear before the Board should be submitted on a Board Action Request form at least one month prior to a conference (available online under “About ALSC,” “Committees,” then “forms.”). Forms received between conferences will be considered on a case-by-case basis for possible online board discussion and vote.
Q: How do I set up a meeting at Annual Conference or Midwinter? What if I don’t like the available times?
A: Most committees meet during the ALSC All-Committee meeting. Only those that require confidentiality (such as Nominating or a book or professional award committee), or an unusually large space (such as the Notable committees, which attract observers) may schedule meetings outside All-Committee. In August/September, the ALSC office contacts all chairs to set up meeting times for the upcoming Midwinter and Annual. Please recognize that ALSC is only a small part of the vast jigsaw puzzle of meeting room arrangements ALA must make. We will try to be as flexible as possible.
Q: Can I request Internet access for my committee’s meeting?
A: Due to the high cost (upwards of $800 per day), ALSC is unable to provide computers and Internet access in committee meeting rooms.
Q: How do I know when and where we’re meeting?
A: The “when” is arranged via the ALSC office in September, and we’ll re-check on the Annual meeting times following Midwinter. The “where” is assigned by ALA Conference Services, and it’s often not until late November for Midwinter and early May for Annual Conference. When it’s available, the ALA scheduler is linked to the most current ALA annual or midwinter conference always accessible on the main www.ala.org webpage.
Q: Can I book my meeting in the hotel where I’m staying?
A: Meeting room locations are set by ALA Conference Services and requests like this cannot be accommodated. You could consider staying in the hotel where your meeting is assigned, but it’s probably not a good idea to wait that long to reserve a hotel room. Also, sometimes meetings are placed in the convention center, not a hotel.
Q: What if I can’t come to/participate in the meeting? What if a committee member can’t come/participate?
A: For some committees, attendance in person is required, although some function partially or wholly virtually. Absences can be excused, but if absence becomes a pattern, it might be more realistic for the chair or member in question to re-think his or her ability to commit fully, and tender a resignation. For some committees, such as book award and media evaluation committees, full participation is absolutely mandatory to protect the integrity of the process, and even if someone has an excellent reason for missing a meeting, s/he will be expected to resign. This should in no way be considered a criticism of the member or chair’s work or dedication. If a chair can’t come to a meeting and it’s an isolated (one-time) problem, the chair should designate a member to carry out the chair duties.
Q: Where and when are the committee agendas/minutes posted on the website?
A: Agendas and reports are available on each committee’s ALA Connect space (login required). It is the responsibility of the chair to upload the documents before and after each conference and notify his/her committee members of their availability.
Q: Can I get reimbursed for mailing/sending/making materials? Does my committee have a budget?
A: Committees may request reimbursement of up to $100 for routine photocopying, mailing, internet access in hotel sleeping room (not a meeting room), etc. Award and media evaluation committees may request up to $400, since they may need to ship relatively heavy media. The reimbursement forms for committee operational funds are located under “About ALSC,” “Committees,” then “forms.”. See “The ALA/ALSC Pipeline” section, below, for special funding requests. Requests for additional extra funds (usually max $1,500) can also be made. The form is also located on the website as described above.
 
THE ALA/ALSC PIPELINE
Q: How do I propose a program/publication/article for the journal?
A: Almost any proposal needs a form to be filled out and sent to the appropriate contact. Please note that ALSC publishes separately from ALA Editions. You should consult with ALSC first prior to communicating with ALA Editions. Publication proposals may be sent to the ALSC Program Officer using the Publication Proposal form. Newsletter or journal article proposals should be sent to the publication’s editor. Program proposals are submitted through an online submission form during the open call (usually summer); forms are posted on the ALSC website.
Q: Propose a project to ALSC outside the normal outlets for committee work?
A: Contact your PGC for assistance in developing a proposal that may be submitted to the Board on a Board Action Form.
Q: Seek funding?
A: If a committee, Priority Group Consultant, or discussion group anticipates a need for more than the allotted amount in the next fiscal year, not to exceed $500, a Request for Additional Committee Operational Funds form should be filled out (located in the Division Leadership Manual). Completed requests are reviewed by the Budget committee and a recommendation for funding is made to the Board for approval. Requests to fund projects/activities with expenses over $500 should be submitted through the Board Action Request form.
Q: Reach out to other ALSC committees to ask questions or collaborate?
A: Contact that committee’s chair (findable via the roster) and cc: both of your PGCs, the Executive Director, the staff liaison if any, the ALSC President, and the ALSC Vice President.
Q: Reach out to external partner?
A: First check with your PGC; external relations are generally handled by the ALSC office or the Building Partnerships committee.
Q: Do a survey?
A: ALSC has a subscription to Survey Monkey that committees may use at no cost. Contact your PGC and the Executive Director and/or your staff liaison.
 
ALSC could not run any of our programs or services without our members’ input, involvement, and hardwork. We very much appreciate your service to the division!

Pathfinders

• ALSC Home Page
http://www.ala.org/alsc
• How to Reach the ALSC Staff
http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/contact
• The ALA Policy Manual
http://www.ala.org/aboutala/governance/policymanual
• The ALSC Handbook of Organization
http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/governance/alsc-handbook-organization
• The Division Leadership Manual
http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/governance/dlm
• Award Committee Manuals
http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia (click on the award in question, then the left-hand navigation for “Committee Members”)
• ALSC Bylaws
Bylaws are found in both the ALSC Handbook and the Division Leadership Manual; use the links listed above.
• ALSC Policies for Service on Award Committees
Each award’s policy is found in its manual and on the member page under each award page (e.g. http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottcomm/caldecottcommittee)
• ALSC Committee Volunteer Form
The ALSC home page at http://www.ala.org/alsc, under the “For Members” drop-down menu. It is an online form and requires your member login. The timeline, details, and tips about the appointment process is also on the website.
• ALSC Meeting and Program Schedules at Annual and Midwinter
http://www.ala.org/alscevents
• Rosters
http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/coms (you’ll need to log in)
• Forms
Forms needed by committee chairs are available online under “About ALSC,” “Committees,” then “forms” or in the Division Leadership Manual using the link above.
• ALSC Blog
http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/
• ALSC Wiki
http://wikis.ala.org/alsc
• ALSC Electronic Discussion Lists
http://www.ala.org/alsc/compubs/alsc20
• Strategic Plan
http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/stratplan