Chapter 1: Committees
RUSA committees function on several levels. There are award committees that administer the big and overarching awards of the division, there are administrative committees that manage the broad and collaborative work of RUSA and the sections, and there are task-oriented committees that help RUSA run smoothly.
All of the committees that affect the operations of RUSA, such as membership, standards and guidelines, and budget and finance, have representatives from each section to ensure that decisions and plans are carried out with the wide input of all six RUSA sections. It is critical to the effective running of RUSA that all section reps attend the RUSA committee meetings, play an active role on the committee, and carry information back and forth between the committee and the section. Each section appoints representatives to RUSA committees on the following schedule: BRASS, CODES, and History appoint for odd years 2009-2011, 2011-2013, etc. MARS, RSS, and STARS appoint for even years, 2008-2010, 2010-2012, etc.
Many RUSA committees have a RUSA Board liaison assigned to them. Board Liaisons (which are usually Directors at Large) serve as a support and resource to the chair of the committee. They have no formal role on the committee and do not vote or direct action. They are assigned to committees to serve as a contact with the RUSA Board and to assist and advise the chair. They are appointed to the same committee for the length of their term. The chair of the committee runs the committee and is responsible for all its actions. The chair of the committee reports to the board as is needed by asking to be put on the agenda, following standard procedure. Most of these positions are filled by Directors-at-Large. They are assigned by the current RUSA Vice-President (typically two assignments are needed each year as Directors-at-Large rotate off the board). Two liaisons are assigned specifically based on the role of the Board member. The RUSA Councilor is the liaison to the Access to Information Committee. The RUSA Past-President is the liaison to the Organization and Planning Committee. What follows is the list of liaison assignments, DAL means Director-at-Large.
Access to Information – RUSA Councilor
AFL-CIO – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Awards – DAL
Conference Program Coordinating Committee – DAL
MARBI – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Membership – DAL
Margaret E. Monroe Library Adult Services Award – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Isadore Gilbert Mudge R. R. Bowker Award – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Nominating Committee – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Organization Committee – RUSA Past President
Planning and Finance Committee – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Professional Development – DAL
Publications Committee – DAL
Reference & User Services Quarterly Editorial Advisory – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Reference Service Press Awards Committee – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Standards and Guidelines Committee – DAL
John Sessions Memorial Award – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Thomson Gale Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Services – No Liaison assigned because of nature of committee
Additionally, two RUSA committees, Organization and Budget and Finance have members from other RUSA committees assigned to them as well. Organization, because it is the committee dedicated to “serve the Board of Directors in an advisory capacity regarding goals, objectives and priorities for the Division and its sections; to suggest broad strategies for achieving them, and to evaluate the progress of the Division and Sections towards these goals and objectives” it is important that it have input from a wide range of member groups. Therefore in addition to section representatives, the committee also has representatives from the Membership, Publications and Communications, Professional Development, and Standards and Guidelines.
Budget and Finance, because it oversees the spending and budgetary planning of the organization, also needs to have input from a wide range of member groups. In addition to two section representatives, the current, past, and vice presidents of RUSA, membership also includes representation from the Awards, Organization, Membership, Conference Programming Coordinating, Publications and Communications, Professional Development, and the RUSQ and RUSA Update editors.
RUSA also has representatives to ALA committees. All RUSA representatives to ALA committees are attached as a liaison to a RUSA committee and are expected to share information and solicit input from the committee that serves as their “home base” to share with the larger ALA committee. Each RUSA representative appointed to an ALA committee must submit an informal report about their work to the RUSA board within two weeks of each ALA meeting. Representatives may ask to be put on the RUSA Board agenda as needed, following standard procedure. The Vice-President of RUSA appoints these reps for a one-year term. The “home base” assignments are as follows:
ASCLA Accessibility Assembly – (reports to RUSA Board)
Chapter Relations – (reports to Membership)
Conference Program Coordinating Team – (reports to RUSA Board)
Education Assembly – (reports to Professional Development)
Freedom to Read – (reports to Access to Information)
Intellectual Freedom Committee – (reports to Access to Information. This is an automatic appointment an is the chair of RUSA’s Access to Information Committee)
Legislative Assembly – (reports to Access to Information)
Membership Promotion Taskforce – (reports to Membership. This is an automatic appointment an is the chair of RUSA’s Membership Committee)
Planning and Budget Assembly – (reports to Budget and Finance. This is an automatic appointment an is RUSA vice-president)
Professional Ethics – (reports to Professional Development)
Recruitment Assembly – (reports to Membership)
Website Advisory – (reports to Publications and Communications)
ALCTS-CCS, CC:DA – (reports to MARBI)
In addition to RUSA liaisons and committees, RUSA also has the opportunity to suggest appointments to the ALA Vice-President for possible appointment to an ALA committee. This process happens in early fall and is established by the ALA Vice-President. The RUSA Vice-President makes the suggestions. While the ALA Vice-President is under no obligation to appoint a member suggested by RUSA, many of our members have been selected to serve. Appointment to an ALA committee through the recommendation of RUSA is an honor. While members have no direct duties to the Division because of their appointment, it is considered a courtesy to submit a yearly informal report on the work of the committee to which they were appointed and to point out in that report any items of interest to RUSA and its membership.
The RUSA Board
As a member of the RUSA Board of Directors you are responsible for the affairs of RUSA. The Board is the deliberative body of the division. It sets the policies of the division and the program for the division in relationship to the goals and objectives identified by its membership and by ALA. This is achieved through the development of the RUSA Strategic Plan; the Board ensures that all RUSA actions are in keeping with and flow from the SP, approves the budget and set spending priorities in keeping with the Strategic Plan. Directors at Large serve as liaisons to RUSA level committees.
Duties of the Board
- The board sets policy and the staff carries it out.
- The board establishes goals that are related to RUSA’s priorities and shape a strategy for the future. The board also established objectives that are related to the goals. Objectives should be specific, measurable, active, relevant and timed.
- The board approves the budget to enable attainment of the goals/objectives.
- The board monitors policy implementation and achievement of the goals/objectives.
- We will address requests for agenda items to the president who will set the agenda in consultation with the executive director. There is both a form and a 24 hour rule used to add items to the agenda.
- We will use a “consent agenda” for consensus and non-controversial items.
- We will use a “discussion/decision” section of the agenda for action items that need discussion prior to board action. Individuals bringing items to the board must make sure that all appropriate RUSA groups have had an opportunity to review the proposal prior to the board discussion.
- We will use an “exploration” section of the agenda to explore an important matter of substance or process.
- We will use a rolling agenda to make the best use of Board time.
- We will focus on intended outcomes rather than specific details of achievement; we will not engage in undue “wordsmithing”.
- We will arrive and finish on time.
- We will address questions to the chair who may direct questions to another board or staff member.
- We direct the chair to conclude each item with a consensus statement and intended action for confirmation.
Rights and Responsibilities:
- We will request any needed clarification on board documents prior to the meeting.
- We reserve the right to pull any item from the consent agenda for discussion.
- We will arrive informed and prepared or so inform the chair before the meeting.
- We will take the initiative to ask questions and pose solutions.
- We will make no assumption of motivation or “hidden agenda” on the part of a colleague.
- We acknowledge the responsibility, and accountability to us, of the Executive Committee and the executive director for policy implementation and goal attainment.
- We affirm that the association should be focused, fast, flexible and friendly and we will model these behaviors.
- We acknowledge that silence is consent.
- We will discuss ideas and issues without taking things personally.
- We will attend the annual membership meeting at the President’s Program or so inform the president in advance of the meeting.
Board Liaisons to RUSA Committees:
One of your roles as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors is to serve as a liaison to a RUSA committee.
As the liaison you are expected to attend all committee meetings and to write a brief report at the end of each year on the committee’s work and direction. Ideas for future initiatives or new directions for the committee should be included as should broad issues or any problems you think the Board needs to consider.
You will also be a key player in the Five Year Review process of the committee. You are asked to keep notes during your tenure as liaison, pass them along to the next liaison, and make suggestions in keeping with the focus of the review. Things to track include:
- Does the committee have an understandable and actionable charge?
- Does the committee focus its work on its stated purpose and is that work related to the RUSA Strategic Plan?
- Does the committee work collaboratively as appropriate with other RUSA, Section, and ALA Units?
- Do you feel that the committee is serving a useful purpose within RUSA? If not, what needs to change? What areas of importance are not being addressed?
- Are the Section representatives working to keep information flowing between the committee and the section they represent?
Your liaison duties serve two purposes:
- You connect the RUSA Committee to the Board, sharing information between both groups so that everyone remains in the loop and can collaborate fully.
- You serve as a support and resource to the chair of the committee. While you do not vote or direct action, your knowledge of the RUSA Strategic Plan, how to get on the Board Agenda, etc. can be very useful to the chair as he or she plans actions.
Section Representatives to RUSA Committees:
Each section has a representative most RUSA committees. As a section representative to a RUSA Committee you represent your section at the RUSA level. Your primary job is to be a conduit of information between your section and the RUSA committee. Of particular importance is to carry information to and from the RUSA committee and the section when policy, guidelines, or standards are being discussed/created. The only time the sections have a chance to edit, change, or direct a RUSA level document is while it is being shaped in committee. Your job is to make sure your section knows about this work and has had input. Once the document reaches the RUSA Board level it will not be edited for section input. The document will also not be wordsmithed so it is important that you maintain an open dialogue between the committee and your section during all work on the document. In addition, your duties include sharing information, helping to bridge issues between all six sections, spotting places the sections and division committee can work together, and generally keeping your section informed of RUSA level activities.
Duties of RUSA Representatives to ALA Committees:
RUSA has one representative to several ALA Committees. As a RUSA representative to an ALA Committee you represent RUSA at the ALA Level. Your primary job is to be a conduit of information between RUSA and ALA and the other divisions and units on the ALA committees. Things to look for include ideas you think RUSA might want to consider or know about; issues that seem to be pressing or need RUSA input or consideration; trends in the area.
Each RUSA representative appointed to an ALA committee must submit an informal report about their work and findings to the RUSA board within 2 weeks of each ALA meeting. Representatives may ask to be put on the RUSA Board agenda as needed following Board agenda guidelines.
All RUSA representatives to ALA committees are attached as a liaison to a RUSA committee and are expected to share information and solicit input from the committee. Committee attendance is strongly suggested whenever possible. Your annual and midwinter report should also be sent to the chair of your liaison committee as well.
Duties of RUSA Committee Chairs:
- Communicate with the RUSA President and Executive Director when issues arise or you have questions.
- Serve as a representative to other RUSA committees as noted on committee rosters.
- Direct actions of the committee to align and support the RUSA Strategic Plan and the approved yearly objectives.
- Follow the RUSA budget process (as noted below)
- Follow the RUSA agenda process (as noted below)
- Submit a written report to either the section executive committee or RUSA Board on the activities of the committee within two weeks of each conference. This can take the form of Meeting Highlights.
- Post regular blog posts about the committee’s work
- As appropriate, gather materials from conference programming and give to webmaster for posting on RUSA/Section conference pages.
- Contribute to RUSA Update
- Keep notes in relation to the 5-year review process and pass along those notes to the next chair.
- Maintain records of committee activities and send current committee records to new chair when a new chair is appointed.
- Send any material of an archival nature to the RUSA office upon completion of service as chair.
- Plan the committee's work for the year (end of Annual Conference through next Annual Conference) in accordance with ALA goals and priorities, RUSA goals and Strategic Plan, and the stated purpose of the committee.
- Coordinate the committee's work for the year via e-mail and other appropriate means.
- Ensure that section liaisons understand the importance of their role and are playing an active part on the committee.
- Inform committee members as soon as possible of the time of all meetings. Agendas, together with any related documents, should be sent out in advance and minutes should be distributed after each meeting.
- Reply promptly to all inquiries from the field concerning problems related to the committee's work.
- Arrange committee meetings at the Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.
- Conduct all meetings in accordance with ALA's "Open Meetings" policy: "All meetings of the American Library Association and its units are open to all members and to members of the press. Registration requirements apply. Closed meetings may be held only for the discussion of matters affecting the privacy of individuals or institutions."
- Submit regular reports each year to the RUSA Board of Directors. Written reports are due to the RUSA Board within two weeks of Conference.
- Submit committee recommendations for RUSA Board action to the RUSA office in time to be distributed to Board members before the Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference (see above for deadline information). Each recommendation should include specific wording for the action to be approved by the Board. Supporting documents should be attached to the request for Board action to provide background information to clarify an issue. Further, the committee chair, or other committee representative, should attend the Board meeting in case members of the Board have questions not answered by the materials at hand.
- Recommend reappointment of effective committee members.
- Ask the RUSA president or section chair to remove committee members who are not fulfilling their obligations.
- Maintain records of committee activities and send current committee records to new chair when a new chair is appointed.
- Send any material of an archival nature to the RUSA office upon completion of service as chair.
- Inform RUSA president and executive director of resignations submitted directly to committee chair.
- Appear before the RUSA Board as requested/needed to present information.
- Depending on the year of your term, conduct the committee’s five-year review.
Committee reports, minutes:
Within two weeks of your committee meeting, please submit a Meeting Highlights form with a brief summary of the discussion and actions taken. Section-level committees will submit forms according to the procedures of their sections. When minutes of the meeting are available, be sure to send a copy to the RUSA office. The office maintains a file for each committee.
Suggestions for effective meetings:
When the committee agenda is a full one, time is limited, and/or there are observers who wish to participate in the committee's deliberations, the chair may do one or more of the following:
- allow discussion time during the last portion of scheduled meeting time
- to keep business moving in any organization beyond an informal, small group, require all who wish to speak to address the chair. Rule out of order any who do not.
- limit the input of observers, if necessary, to ensure that all committee members have the opportunity to speak and that the agenda is not abrogated
- Avoid formal motions for procedural or non-controversial matters. Use such formulas as: "If there is no objection, (pause) . . .".
- For approving Minutes, use: "Are there any corrections? (pause) If not, they stand approved as distributed."
- For adjournment, use: "Is there any further business? (pause) The meeting is adjourned."
Norms for meetings:
- actively participate
- take responsibility for outcomes
- share in the facilitation of the meeting
- have fun
- keep comments within the scope to the group
- speak up before the group if you have an issue
- be respectful of others' ideas and approaches
- start and end on time
- bring all group members into the discussion
- state something positive before you criticize
- be mindful of your time 'on stage'
- share the workload.
Source: ALA ad hoc Training Task Force, January, 1996
Interns on committees:
The internship helps introduce new members to RUSA committees. Interns are RUSA members who have never served on any RUSA committees. The internship is an extra membership slot not counted in the number of members in the committee's descriptive statement.
Each intern shall serve for a period of one year and may not be re-appointed as a committee intern. The one-year service as an intern is not to be included in the four year maximum of committee service. Interns shall participate fully in the work of the committees to which they are assigned. Voting privileges shall be extended to interns on equal terms with regular members. Source: RASD Board, June, 1969; amended January, 1976; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006
Virtual members of committees or task forces have the right to participate in all committee work and discussions. Virtual members are not counted when determining the quorum for face-to-face meetings of the committee. Virtual members are appointed in keeping with all RUSA appointment policies.
An individual may be appointed for a one-year term as a consultant if he or she is not eligible for appointment as a member but his or her expertise is required for the completion of a committee project. A consultant generally is an individual who has completed four years on a particular committee and has been strongly involved in an ongoing project. A one-year appointment as a consultant can help with continuity. A consultant is not counted in the number of members in the committee's descriptive statement, and is not a voting member of the committee.
Establishment of committees:
Members of RUSA who wish to form a new committee should prepare a descriptive statement according to the following format:
- establishment (date and brief facts, if pertinent)
- purpose (why the committee exists)
- composition (number of members and special characteristics, if any)
- terms of office (if not according to RUSA Bylaws, describe special conditions)
- specific duties (what the committee will do to justify its existence)
- policies (if any)
- draft charter (outlining the duties and mission of the committee)
The descriptive statement for division-level committees will be given to the Organization Committee for approval and then to the RUSA Board for action. Section executive committees approve descriptive statements for new committees and send a copy to the RUSA office. Source: RASD Board, February, 1973; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006
No person shall concurrently serve in more than three separate positions. Governing board, committee, liaison, subcommittee, and other responsibilities that require service in another position (e.g., service on a committee that entails assembly representation) are not in conflict with this policy. Source: ALA Policy 4.4
With the exception of virtual members, members of all ALA and unit committees are expected to attend all meetings. Failure to attend two consecutive meetings or groups of meetings (defined as all meetings of a committee that take place at one Midwinter or Annual Conference) without an explanation acceptable to the committee chair constitutes grounds for removal upon request by the chair to and approval by the appropriate appointing official or governing board. All committee members are expected to take part in the work of the committee, as outlined under "Duties of Committee Members," below. Source: ALA Policy 4.5
The RUSA president appoints the members of RUSA-level committees established during her or his tenure. The vice-president/president-elect appoints the chair of all RUSA standing committees for one year matching his or her term of office. The vice-president/president-elect appoints RUSA standing committee members as needed if a committee members term of service expires at the start of the vice-president/president-elects term as president. The RUSA Bylaws state that appointments to standing committees are usually for terms of two years. However, appointments can be made for one, two, three, or four years (with the exception of committee chairs and RUSA representatives to ALA committees, both of which must be one year appointment) where there is a compelling need – such as to fix turnover issues on a committee or establish continuity for a new committee. Reappointment is possible but "in no case shall a person serve on a committee for more than four consecutive years." (RUSA Bylaws) Once an appointment is made and accepted, it cannot be undone by the next RUSA Vice-President, unless the current chair of the committee requests the removal of a member for lack of participation or other performance-based reason.
Chairs serve for one year and may be reappointed. (Note: Members of awards committees serve a two-year term and may not be reappointed.)
Terms begin immediately after the Annual Conference unless a different date appears on the appointment acceptance form. Terms on many award committees such as the Notable Books Council and Reference Sources Committee begin immediately after the Midwinter Meeting.
The RUSA executive director sends e-mail messages of appointment on behalf of the president and vice-president.
Section chairs-elect appoint members of section-level committees and handle the appointment correspondence for their respective sections.
Calendar for committee chairs:
- Newly appointed committee members observe meeting.
- Incoming chair consults committee members regarding time to meet at Midwinter and at the next Annual Conference.
- ALA/RUSA organization year begins on adjournment of Annual Conference.
- Chair submits any outstanding requests for reimbursement for committee expenses incurred during the current fiscal year (which ends August 31) to the RUSA executive director.
- Meeting request forms for Midwinter due in the ALA Conference Services Office by September 30.
- Meeting request forms for Annual Conference programs due by October 1. Meeting request forms for meetings at Annual Conference due by October 31.
- Committee chair sends any known items that need board consideration to RUSA office.
- Committee chair sends agenda, time, and room assignment for committee meeting at Midwinter to committee members.
- In order to add items to the RUSA Board agenda, committee chairs, section officers, or Board members must follow proper procedure: submit via email to the executive director a Board Agenda Item form. This form must be filled in completely and submitted by noon on the day preceding the Board meeting at which the item is to be considered. Items received after that deadline will not be considered or added to the agenda. You may also turn the Board Agenda Item Form in at the RUSA desk no later than noon on the day preceding the Board meeting.
- If more than $50 is needed for budget year beginning after upcoming Annual Conference, chair must plan to submit a budget request by set due date (May 1).
- If committee wishes to present a conference program next year, it begins planning now.
- Send minutes from meetings to RUSA office.
- RUSA vice-president and section vice-chairs appoint committee chairs and members.
- Chair sends any items needing Board consideration to RUSA office.
- Chair sends agenda for committee meeting at Annual Conference to committee members.
- All budget requests are due by May 1. If a request is not submitted by May 1 on the proper form and with all necessary supporting documentation it will not be considered in the RUSA budget cycle for the year.
- New officers elected.
Evaluation of committees:
The RUSA Organization and Planning Committee will review the non-administrative RUSA-level committees and the sections of RUSA every four years on a staggered basis. Section executive committees will be responsible for review of committees and discussion groups within their sections. The purpose of the reviews will be to determine whether the committee or section continues to serve a useful purpose within the division and to give members an opportunity to recommend changes in the structure of their own committee or section or of RUSA as a whole.
For this review, the chair of the committee will send to the Organization and Planning Committee answers to the following questions:
- What is the charge of the committee?
- How do the committee’s charge and activities support the current RUSA Strategic Plan? (Please list specific activities or accomplishments).
- Concerning the committee's organization, activities, and goals, what challenges does the committee face and what change does the committee recommend to meet these challenges?
- Which other committees in RUSA or ALA perform similar functions to this committee? Is there any overlap between this committee and other relevant ALA/RUSA committees? If so, how might this duplication of effort be eliminated?
The answers to these questions should not exceed ten pages. The Organization and Planning Committee will post an archive copy of the answers to its ALA Connect site.
RUSA Committee and Section Evaluations. Revisions Proposed by the RUSA Organization and Planning Committee, January 2012. Approved by the RUSA Board, March 2012.
RUSA Committee Reviews: Schedule
Access to Information
Feb 15, 2013
Feb 15, 2017
AFL/CIO Joint Committee
Feb 15, 2014
Feb 15, 2018
Awards Coordinating II
Feb 15, 2014
Feb 15, 2018
Conference Program Coordinating
Feb 15, 2015
Feb 15, 2019
Feb 15, 2015
Feb 15, 2019
Organization and Planning
Budget and Finance
Feb 15, 2013
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2013
Feb 15, 2017
RUSQ Editorial Advisory Board
Standards & Guidelines
Feb 15, 2013
Feb 15, 2017
(Source: RUSA Committee and Section Evaluations, Revisions Proposed by the RUSA Organization and Planning Committee, January 2012, Approved by the RUSA Board, March 2012)
RUSA Section Reviews
Reviews are conducted every five years except that a new section is reviewed after three years. The year of "next review" is the year in which a section should submit its review documentation to the RUSA Organization Committee. This should normally be submitted in time to allow distribution of copies in preparation for discussion at the Annual Conference.
Schedule through 2020
|Section||Last Review Due||Next Review Due||Next Review Due|
|BRASS||2008||Feb 15, 2014||Feb 15, 2018|
|CODES||2011||Feb 15, 2016||Feb 15, 2020|
|History||2010||Feb 15, 2015||Feb 15, 2019|
|MARS||2007||Feb 15, 2014||Feb 15, 2018|
|RSS||2010||Feb 15, 2015||Feb 15, 2019|
|STARS||n/a||Feb 15, 2013||Feb 15, 2017|
Procedure Statement on Evaluation of Committees:
Policy dictates that all eligible committees be reviewed every five years. Newly established committees receive their first review after three years. Normally, reviews are conducted during the Midwinter Conference and are administered by the Subcommittee on Reviews. If necessary to maintain the integrity of the schedules, reviews also may be conducted during the Annual Conference.
Reviewers should not be members or active participants of their assigned committee. Reviews should be conducted at a regular business meeting of the committee.
Following is an outline of the normal review procedures.
Chair of Subcommittee on Reviews notifies chairs of all committees slated for review by a form letter adopted for that purpose. Also included is a copy of the evaluation checklist and a copy of the policy statement concerning "Establishment and Evaluation of Committees."
Chair of Subcommittee notifies all Subcommittee members of committees slated for review and their meeting times and dates. By December 10, committee members inform Subcommittee Chair which times they are available.
Chair of Subcommittee notifies subcommittee members of review assignments. In cases where committee members have not responded with their choices, assignments will be arbitrary. If subcommittee members are unable to attend their assigned meetings, the Subcommittee Chair should be notified. (If conflicts cannot be resolved, these committee reviews may be postponed until the Annual Conference and committee chairs informed of same.)
Subcommittee members contact chairs of committees to be reviewed directly and inform them of their visit on a certain day.
Mid-Winter Reviews are conducted according to the schedule described above and checklists are filled out.
Subcommittee members send copies of their reviews to Subcommittee Chair for purposes of synthesis and distribution.
Subcommittee chair sends each member of Organization Committee copies of all reviews together with a brief report of findings.
Organization Committee chair sends review results to committee chairs.
Under Related Files below, you will find templates for the letters and checklists that should go out from the Chair of Organization to the chairs of the sections and committees being reviewed. Future chairs of Organization should copy the text from the template, insert relevant data, and send this off to the right people each Fall. The review checklists for committees incorporate the new questions that were approved by the RUSA Board in Toronto, 2003. These templates should not require frequent updating, although the Organization Committee should examine them every 1-2 years on principle.
Press release service:
The Public Information Office (PIO) works with ALA units to publicize news through official ALA new releases. About 400 releases a year are processed through PIO and distributed to over 500 library publications.
Releases are e-mailed each week to a targeted library "trade" press list: national and regional library press, state association and state agency publication editors, library school deans, division journals/newsletters, ALA executive board, division presidents and ALA staff.
Follow these procedures for your press release:
1. Plan ahead. Submit proposed copy to the RUSA office at least two months before the publication's cover date (e.g. the April issue of American Libraries is on press sometime after March 15 and closes on editorial content, except 'hot' news, by the last week of February). Quarterlies typically have an even longer lead time.
2. Prepare a draft. To ensure that all the information you want publicized is included in the release, submit a working draft. PIO will edit, rewrite, and clarify. A few things to remember when drafting your release:
- Be sure to include the "5 W's-Who, What, Where, When, Why."
- Double-check all factual information.
- Use the "inverted pyramid"--begin with the most important information.
- Write out all acronyms.
- Include deadline dates and attendance limitations, where applicable
- Include the name, address and phone of a contact person.
- Use quotes for subjective descriptions.
- Double-space copy.
3. Releases should be routed through the RUSA office. PIO prepares news releases for divisions, other committees, and their sections on request of the division's executive director.
Be careful not to commit one of these seven deadly sins of press release writing:
1. misspelling names
2. inaccurate information. A release is only as good as its sources.
3. burying leads
4. not allowing enough time for a release to be prepared, distributed, and published in a timely fashion
5. trying to publicize something not worth a release
6. using jargon. Simple language is better.
7. writing too long a release with unnecessary information. More is not always better.
If a reporter calls you, the following may be useful.
- Ask questions. Find out the name of the publication or network. Ask what the story is about, the reporter's angle, and when the deadline is. If you do not feel qualified to address the question or are uncomfortable with the approach, say so. Suggest other angles or sources of information.
- Be clear about whom you are representing—yourself, your library, or the ALA. You may want to check the ALA Handbook for a policy statement or request a copy of fact sheets available from PIO on a variety of topics.
- Be aware of manipulation. Some reporters may ask leading questions such as “Would you say...” followed by an idea for your agreement. Make your own statements.
- Be prepared to answer the standard “Who- What- When- Where- How- and Why” questions. Have supporting facts and examples available. PIO has files which include good background information.
- Before answering questions, think about what you want to say and the best way to say it. Make sure your comments are from a positive angle, pitching librarians as information professionals or libraries as the sole source of vital information.
- Keep your answers brief and to the point, especially with broadcast media, when you might have only 20 seconds to respond. Too much information can be confusing.
- Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." It is a legitimate answer. Reporters do not want incorrect information. Tell them you'll find the answer and call back.
If you need additional information or counsel, contact the ALA Public Information Office or the RUSA office.
Any resolution prepared by any unit of the division, any committee or other organization of which RUSA is a joint member, or any ALA unit or committee assigned to the division must be submitted to the RUSA Board of Directors for its approval. Source: RASD Board, January, 1976; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006
Surveys and questionnaires:
Consult the RUSA office. Many questionnaires are sent out from various ALA units each year, and possible respondents will be happier if duplication can be avoided. The RUSA staff will submit drafts of proposed survey instruments to the ALA Office for Research and Statistics for review and recommendations.