Chapter 2: Sections

*Note that because of procedural changes, these policies and procedures are currently under review. Questions should be directed to RUSA Executive Director, Jessica Hughes,


RUSA has six sections. Each section has its own executive committee and can establish rules of governance in keeping with the larger policies, guidelines, and bylaws of RUSA.

Duties of the section chair:

  • Work in relation to the RUSA Strategic Plan
  • Follow the RUSA budget process (as noted above)
  • Follow the RUSA agenda process (as noted above)
  • 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.

    Section Committee Chairs:
  • 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 the stated purpose of the committee.
  • Coordinate the committee's work for the year via e-mail and other appropriate means.
  • 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."
  • Recommend reappointment of effective committee members.
  • Ask the section chair to remove committee members who are not fulfilling their obligations.
  • Appear before the section executive committee as needed to report on activities of the committee.
  • 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 section chair of resignations submitted directly to committee chair.
  • serves as an officer of the section and assists in advancing the goals and objectives of the section and RUSA
  • chairs all meetings of the section executive committee at Annual and Midwinter conferences
  • attends meetings of the section committees where possible
  • oversees section program at Annual Conference; chairs annual meeting of the section which may follow, precede, or be separate from the program
  • serves as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors
  • submits reports to the RUSA Board of Directors on section activities
  • responds to inquiries from members and non-members regarding section activities
  • fills committee vacancies occurring during term in office
  • represents the section at the division level. According to ALA policy, only divisions can speak for the Association in their areas of responsibility. Positions adopted at the section level, may be adopted by the RUSA Board and they then represent positions of the Association.

    Section Vice-Chairs:
  • serves as an officer of the section and assists in advancing the goals and objectives of the section and RUSA
  • as a member of the Executive Committee, attends meetings of the committee at Annual and Midwinter Conferences
  • appoints a Nominating Committee that is responsible for producing a slate of candidates for section office. The section vice-chair may not be a member of the nominating committee (see ALA Bylaws, Article III, Section 1a)
  • makes appointments to all other section committees for terms beginning when chair's term begins
  • makes appointments to preconference planning committees, if appropriate to the practices of the section
  • appoints section representatives to designated RUSA level committees
  • appoints a conference program planning committee (if appropriate to practices of section) to plan program at Annual Conference
  • submits section's budget request (if needed) for year as chair
  • performs other duties as the executive committee of the section may assign
  • serves a one-year term on the RUSA Planning and Finance Committee
  • performs duties of the chair in his/her absence

Duties of committee members:

  • The specific duties of a committee member vary according to the committee. However, all committee members are expected to:
  • attend all meetings of the committee at Midwinter and at Annual Conference (This does not apply to virtual members.)
  • complete all assignments made by committee chairperson
  • respond as promptly as possible to all e-mails from the committee or from the RUSA office
  • participate in the committee's discussion list (if one is used) or in the committee's online community (if one is used)
  • inform the chair of the committee and the RUSA office immediately of any change of address
  • forward any committee material of importance to the committee chair at the end of each committee assignment.

Making committee appointments:

Appointments may be made by letter, e-mail, or, initially, by telephone or in person, but must later be confirmed in writing. Section chairs-elect appoint members of section level committees and handle the appointment correspondence for their respective sections.

Terms for members of standing committees are two years with one two-year reappointment permitted. The terms should be staggered so that approximately half expire in any year. Terms become effective on adjournment of an Annual Conference and expire on adjournment of the conference two years later.

There are some exceptions. Nominating, Conference Program, Awards, ad hoc committees in all sections, and CODES Notable Books Council and CODES Reference Sources Committee all follow different rules.

Nominating and Conference Program committees should both be appointed early in the term of the section vice-chair. These committees should begin their work at or before the Midwinter meeting.

Awards committee appointments are normally for two years with no reappointment. Terms of members of ad hoc committees extend for the life of the committee. An incoming section chair need not be concerned with appointments to an ad hoc committee already established unless vacancies occur due to resignations, etc.

CODES Notable Books Council, The Reading List Council, and CODES Reference Sources Committee appointments begin and end on adjournment of the ALA Midwinter Meeting instead of the ALA Annual Conference.

Committee chairs are appointed for one-year terms coinciding with the appointing officer's term as section chair.

There are some limits on committee service. The following is an ALA policy: No person shall concurrently serve in more than three separate positions. Governing board, committee, liaison, subcommittee, and other responsibilities which require service in another position are not in conflict with this policy. Source: ALA Policy Manual 4.4

Before making appointments to committees, the section vice-chair/chair-elect should ask incumbent committee chairs to supply the following information:

  • names of persons who, in their opinion, would be good candidates for appointment to their committees
  • names of persons who should be reappointed for second two-year terms. (The ALA Bylaws state, “in no case shall a person serve on a committee for more than four years.”)
  • names of persons who should not be reappointed
  • whether the incumbents would like to continue as chairs for another term or would like to recommend someone else for appointment. (Except for the four-year limit on committee service itself, there is no ALA or RUSA limit on the number of years that a committee member may serve as a chair, however care should be taken to ensure regular turn over and to allow others on the committee to serve in the leadership role of chair.)
  • Appointment letters or e-mail messages should include the following information:
  • length of term and effective dates for beginning and end
  • complete name of committee
  • purpose of the committee
  • a copy of the ALA Policies Relating to Committee and Board Service
  • instructions to complete the online appointment acceptance form
  • The completed online appointment acceptance forms are automatically sent to the section vice-chair and the RUSA office.
  • Appointments should be completed in time for new appointees to be able to observe meetings of the committees at the Annual Conference.

Appointments to RUSA-level committees:

To provide better communication between RUSA-level functional committees and the sections, sections are represented on the following RUSA committees: Access to Information, Conference Program Coordinating, Membership, Nominating, Organization, Planning and Finance, Professional Development, Publications, and Standards and Guidelines.

Section vice-chairs name these representatives and send them an appointment message. Section representatives serve the same term of office as any other appointed member of the committee, usually two years. Section representatives are in no way to be considered ex officio.

When possible, RUSA committee members who serve as section representatives will also serve on the related section committee.

In addition to having the customary responsibilities of a committee member, section representatives are expected to represent the concerns of a section and report back to the section's executive committee about the activity of the RUSA functional committee on which they serve.

Source: RASD Board, January, 1988; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Appointments calendar:


  • RUSA office sends vice-chair membership printout and instructions on making appointments.

November 1

  • Vice-chair appoints a representative to RUSA Nominating Committee, and appoints section's Nominating Committee and Conference Program Planning Committee (if appropriate).


  • The Nominating and Conference Program Planning Committees meet.


  • Vice-chair appoints all other committees.

April 1

  • Deadline for all other section appointees and section representatives to RUSA level committees to return their appointment forms.

Section committees and discussion groups:

Each section may establish standing and ad hoc committees and discussion groups necessary to conduct the work of the section. Sections may amend the committee descriptive statements when appropriate to changing circumstances, and may discontinue any committees or discussion groups when they are no longer needed. These actions should be reported to the RUSA office.

The RUSA office maintains a file of the official descriptive statements for each committee of the division and of each section.

A discussion group is an informal group that allows discussion of topics of common interest during the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting. Results of discussions may be prepared by the group for distribution to the relevant parent body. A leader may be chosen by the group to coordinate discussion. Source: ALA Policy Manual 6.10

It is RUSA policy that discussion groups not sponsor programs. Groups that plan special presentations, e.g. speeches or panel presentations as part of their discussion may wish to use the electronic discussion list, RUSA-L, to announce them.

Membership lists:

The RUSA Office e-mails a list of the section's membership to the newly-elected section chair-elect. The office will also send a copy of this list to the section's nominating committee chair on receipt of notice of the appointment.

Evaluation of Sections:

The RUSA Organization Committee reviews sections every five years.

Sections are asked to review their committees and discussion groups and evaluate their effectiveness. Information about the review process is available in Chapter 1: Committees.

RUSA Board:

Schedule permitting, it will be helpful for the vice-chair/chair-elect to attend at least part of the RUSA Board meetings as an observer. When it is impossible for the chair to attend, the vice-chair may attend and participate in the Board's deliberations, but without vote. The section chair is an ex officio voting member of the RUSA Board of Directors during his or her year in office.

Since one of the section chair's major responsibilities as a member of the RUSA Board is to represent the section's interests, it is important for the chair to attend all meetings of the Board. There is no provision in the RUSA Bylaws for Board members to vote by proxy. The RUSA office routinely e-mails Board documents to section chairs-elect to keep them posted on matters before the Board.