Orientation Sheet for New Committee Chairpersons
COMMITTEE YEAR: Begins the day after the close of the Annual Conference and continues until the close of the Annual Conference the following year. Chairs, with the exception of the budget committee, serve a one-year position, with possible reappointment.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: The function of the committee is explained in the letter of appointment. The chair is responsible for:
- directing and carrying out regular and special assignments of the committee;
- keeping committee members informed about the work of their committee;
- replying promptly to all inquiries on problems in their field of work;
- arranging meetings at Midwinter Meetings and Annual Conferences;
- making semi-annual reports to the President and Board of Directors on the progress of work assigned the committee;
- sending copies of all correspondence to the President and the Executive Director for information; and
- knowing and following the policies and procedures n the ALSC Division Leadership Manual.
The committee chair is responsible for leading the committee. The achievement of the group during any year and the success of projects undertaken are due in large part to the chair’s leadership. Initiation and completion of expanded or related projects indicate significant committee progress.
The chair accepts responsibility for making recommendations regarding the removal of committee members who are not fulfilling their obligations. The chair should also be prepared to make recommendations on reappointments of contributing committee members.
PROCEDURES: Whenever possible, specific procedures should be set up for the work of the committee. Many committees have established procedures which are followed from year to year. As soon as the chair receives the complete list of committee members, a letter should be sent out introducing the members; explaining the work of the year; outlining procedures; setting up a plan of work for the year, including provision for progress report or action at the Midwinter Meeting; and a statement of what is to be completed by the Annual Conference.
RESOURCES: Several resources including an orientation webinar for process committees, a best practices for virtual committees wiki, and pathfinder exist for committees. These are located at the bottom of the committee listing webpage.
MEETINGS: For committees that meet face to face, 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 and February, the ALSC office conveys 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. It is the responsibility of the chair to contact committee members regarding meetings at regular conferences.
Virtual committees are expected to convene their work online, throughout the year.
Names of new members are sent to the chair as soon as they are known at the Division office. Chairs should invite any new committee members to committee meetings to orient them in committee work.
MEETING AGENDAS: Chairs should post agendas and documents/reports on their committee’s ALA Connect space. 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. If Chairs wish to appear before the Board at conference, the chair should complete a board action request form.
MEETING REPORTS: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 form is available online under “About ALSC,” “Committees,” then “forms.” Deadlines are posted with the link to the form. Currently the 15th of September, December, February and May.
PROCEEDINGS: Proceedings of meetings (minutes) are to be uploaded to the committee's ALA Connect space within three weeks of the end of the meeting.
STATIONERY AND POSTAGE: If division stationery is needed, it can be requested from the office. Frequently individual libraries are willing to assume the expense of postage for committee work. In cases where this cannot be assumed by the library, the division will reimburse the member, if funds have been budgeted for such expenses. (Consult the Division Leadership Manual for reimbursement procedures.)
EXPENSES: Expenses should not be incurred unless funds appear in the current ALSC budget for such expenses. (Consult the Division Leadership manual for reimbursement procedures.)
PUBLICITY: It is desirable that the ALSC office be advised of any publicity contemplated by a committee, in order that the work of various groups may not conflict. Drafts of press releases are sent to the Program Officer for Communication for review and submission to the ALA Public Information Office for preparation and release. Reports or articles on the work or on studies of a committee may be published only with the permission of the Board of Directors; such reports and articles, when approved for publication, must be offered first to ALA periodicals, with Children and Libraries having first refusal rights. Please contact the Program Officer for Communication to obtain the most current deadline dates to submit copy..
RESIGNATIONS: Resignations from committee assignments should be sent to the President with copies to the Executive Director. If the Chair finds it necessary to resign, he/she should send a letter of resignation to the President with copies to the Executive Director, Priority Group Consultant, and to the members of the committee.
RESEARCH: All ALSC committees are directed by the ALSC Board (January 1975) to report, at an early stage, intended research projects involving data gathering in any form to the Executive Director.
FORWARDING OF MATERIAL: Each outgoing chair should forward to his/her successor all committee material of interest. Outdated materials should be sent to the Executive Director. When a committee is discharged, the chair’s files should be forwarded to the Executive Director for the archives. Any confidential posts should be deleted from the commitee's ALA Connect space. Agendas, minutes and reports should remain for incoming members to familiarize themselves with the work of the committee.
Committee chairs will find the following ALA and ALSC policy and procedure guides helpful:
The work of the committee is the center from which the total program of the Division evolves. To function effectively, each member of a committee must assume a share of the total responsibility assigned that unit. He/She should participate actively in the work of the committee and carry out the work assigned him/her by the chair. He/She should answer all correspondence promptly and thoroughly.
When a committee is established, its function is clearly defined and stated by the Board of Directors. This function is included in the letter of invitation to become a member of the committee. The committee member also ought to become familiar with the work of the committee in its relation to the total program of the Division and of ALA. (See the ALA Handbook of Organization, latest edition.)
Specific duties for each member are assigned by the committee chair who also informs members regarding meetings during the annual Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.
When accepting membership on a committee, one understands that as a matter of ALA policy, regular attendance at committee meetings during Midwinter and Annual Conference is expected. Although some amount of committee work can be carried on satisfactorily through correspondence, most assignments of committees require a meeting together of the committee in order to be effectively completed. If fulfilling this complete responsibility becomes impossible, a letter of resignation should be sent promptly to the Division President with copies to the Executive Director and to the chair of the committee. Experience has shown that for effective committee work, the total group must meet together regularly.
If a committee member is dissatisfied with the work of the committee or the chair, he/she should express his/her dissatisfaction to the chair. If the matter is not cleared up to his/her satisfaction, he/she should write to the Division President with copies to the Executive Director and to his/her chair. The President will take whatever action seems appropriate.
Committee members should forward any committee material of importance to the chair at the end of the committee assignment.