Meetings of the Board
Schedule of Board Meetings
The Board of Directors meets four times per year: in the fall in conjunction with the ICMA conference (see schedule); at the ALA Midwinter Meeting; in the spring; and at the ALA Annual Conference. When the Board meets at ALA Annual and Midwinter, we hold one meeting, scheduled for Saturday afternoon (1:30-4:30 PM).
The spring board meeting may be held via conference call or face-to-face, depending upon the agenda and the wishes of the Board. It may be scheduled to begin immediately prior to or after ALA Legislative Day in Washington D.C.
Expense and Absence Reporting
PLA will reimburse travel costs associated with attending the fall and spring board meetings. For the spring board meeting, if held in conjunction with ALA Legislative Day, PLA will cover two hotel nights and travel. PLA will not assume the cost of attending the ALA Midwinter and Annual Conference meetings.
If you are unable to attend a Board meeting, please notify the President or the Executive Director prior to the meeting for an excused absence. PLA Bylaws require attendance of the Board meetings. If a member of the Board fails to attend two or more consecutive conferences, that director’s office may be declared vacant by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.
Agendas and Protocol
PLA Board meetings are open to members. The Board meets to talk about the business of PLA as a whole, e.g., the strategic direction, budget, programs, and partnerships and may be asked by ALA to provide support or comment on public library issues.
Board agendas and documents are available via the ALA Connect site for the Board. It is very important that board members read documents prior to the meeting so that the board can spend their time together as productively as possible. Directors may bring laptops/tablets for reading the documents and taking notes. However, PLA cannot guarantee that there will be electrical outlets or internet access in the meeting rooms.
Documents are numbered with the year then whole numbers after a decimal point (e.g., 2012.15); revised documents handed out onsite are labeled Revised. PLA will email you when all Board documents are posted and available on ALA Connect and/or at conference if new and/or revised documents are available there. Those we receive on site will be printed and available for you at the meeting. Board members are responsible for bringing their agenda and documents to the meetings.
The actions taken by the Board are reflected in the minutes, which are distributed at the following Board meeting for approval. The Board uses a consent agenda for routine reports. If you have questions about reports, do not hesitate to call the staff to discuss prior to the Board meeting; or if you believe that a report requires substantive discussion at the Board meeting prior to the agenda being approved you may request that the agenda item be removed from the consent agenda and added to the discussion agenda.
During its meetings, the official parliamentary authority of the Association guides the Board, which is currently the Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. However, because the Board is a small group and its meetings tend to be more informal, strict adherence to parliamentary procedure is not always necessary. Board meetings do not include a parliamentarian. In the case of a procedural question, the rules of Sturgis prevail.
Closed sessions are used only to discuss matters affecting the privacy of individuals, institutions, and the association. The presiding officer reports out following each closed session in order to summarize the discussion and/or note any formal actions taken by the Board. Actions taken in closed session are announced, and votes are confirmed in an open session.
Closed sessions are noted on the agenda. Individual Board members may request a closed session if they feel an issue warrants one. The Board may also decide to go into closed session during a meeting if the item under discussion affects the privacy of an individual, an institution, ALA, or PLA.
The Board is bound by ethics and common sense in observing rules of confidentiality and silence regarding discussions in closed session. In general, if public awareness of the issue will violate the privacy of an individual or institution, the session should be closed. Board members should not reveal the elements or substance of the discussion. If Board members are uncertain what they may reveal, this should be discussed during the closed session.
You will have a nameplate which should be placed in front of you at each meeting so everyone will know who you are. There are no assigned seats; the Board sits at the large table and observers and non-board members on the agenda sit at chairs lining the walls of the room. Board meetings are open for all to attend. While the observers may only speak if the Board gives them permission, their input is often valuable and they are usually granted the privilege. Our time together is limited, and the Board prefers to preserve as much time as possible for PLA business.
Other Meetings Board Members Attend
We convene the PLA All Committee Meeting on Saturday morning at ALA Midwinter and Annual conferences. PLA Committees meet and network in a large room with tables designated for each group. The directors have no official duties at this meeting unless you are on a PLA committee meeting then. Or, you may be asked to liaison to a committee. In general it is a good idea to plan to attend for general informational purposes and to meet PLA members.
Additionally, Board members are expected to attend the PLA President’s Program and Awards Reception, which is held at the ALA Annual Conference. Typically, this program is held Sunday afternoon/early evening. Additionally, we encourage Board members to attend PLA programs while at conference.
Per ALA policy, PLA does not hold Board meetings during the PLA conference. However, Board members are recognized at major events like the opening session and the Board is asked to spend time in the exhibits hall to thank our PLA Partners and exhibitors, who support the conference.
Other Things to Know
The PLA president-elect and PLA president make appointments for PLA committee service. During your service term you may be appointed to serve on a PLA committee or asked to serve as a PLA representative to an ALA committee. All PLA members have the option to accept or decline appointments.
Communications from PLA
There is a PLA Board discussion list, as well as a list for PLA leaders that includes past Board members, committee chairs and committee members. When your term on the Board begins, you will be added to both lists. Monitoring other lists, such as the ALA Council, Publib, etc., can help keep you current with topics of interest to public librarians.
Typically, the PLA President handles interviews with the press. If you receive a call as a member of the Board from the press related to public library issues, please contact PLA executive director Barb Macikas; firstname.lastname@example.org
To familiarize yourself with PLA, we encourage you to review the PLA website. It showcases not only current programs, publications and products but PLA governance information such as the strategic plan, bylaws, board and staff lists, list of PLA committees and much more.