ALA International Relations

Guidelines for Selection and Appointment of ALA Members

To Represent ALA at International Meetings

These guidelines are designed to aid the ALA Executive Board and other appropriate ALA entities in selecting ALA members to represent ALA at international meetings. The ALA International Relations Committee (IRC) acts in an advisory capacity to the Board in recommending approval for appointment. Normally, representatives must be willing and able to fund their own participation.

The phrase "represent ALA at international meetings" can have several meanings.

  • It can reflect simple attendance at a meeting with the intent of communicating from and to ALA on matters of interest to the Association.
  • It can mean bringing back action items that require a response either from ALA or the appropriate ALA unit.
  • It can mean speaking for ALA through knowledge of ALA activities, or a mandate from those groups (while using common sense) to move forward work of both ALA and the international group.
  • It can mean voting as an official representative of ALA.

Recognizing that each of these levels of "representation" is valid and that the appropriate one can vary from meeting to meeting, members of the ALA Board, the unit, and the individual attending the meeting will need to determine and agree to the level of representation prior to the meeting itself. (See section 2.5.4.)

1 General Procedures for Appointment of Official Representatives to an International Organization or Meeting

1.1 Initiation of recommendation/request for official representation

1.1.1 The need for representation to a particular meeting or organization may be expressed by the ALA Executive Board, the ALA IRC, another ALA unit, or by an individual ALA member.

1.1.2 If the recommendation is initiated and approved by the Board itself, that body will either: Identify qualified and interested individuals and approve a ranked list of possible representatives or: Delegate the responsibility for soliciting names of qualified and interested representatives to the IRC, which will then submit recommendations to the Board.

1.2 Identification of ALA Representatives

1.2.1 By the ALA Board: The Board generally will ask the ALA IRC to recommend representatives in priority order. The individual(s) will complete the “Request for Approval to Represent ALA at an International Meeting,” form and will forward it to the ALA IRC.

1.2.2 By an ALA unit: If the recommendation is initiated by an ALA unit, a brief memo of justification outlining why representation is desirable should be forwarded to the ALA IRC, which will present all such recommendations with advice to the Board at each conference. If the unit has already secured the agreement of an individual to serve, the memo should be accompanied by the individual's "Request for Approval to Represent ALA at an International Meeting" form countersigned by the unit's Chairperson. If an ALA Unit with no international relations committee receives inquiries about representation to an international organization, it may request assistance from the ALA IRC.

1.2.3 If a section forwards more than one name for the same meeting, the names should be submitted in ranked order.

1.2.4 By an ALA member: If an ALA member who wishes to nominate him/herself as an official representative initiates the recommendation, the ALA member should seek support from an ALA divisional IRC if such a group exists or, if it does not, from the ALA IRC. As described above, the individual shall submit a brief memo of justification outlining why representation is desirable and will forward this to the IRC along with the individual's "Request for Approval to Represent ALA at an International Meeting" form. The individual should also give some indication of the level of representation he or she intends to provide (see paragraph 2 of this document). The documents are submitted to the ALA IRC for its support. Following that, the documents are forwarded to the ALA Board for its review and approval.

1.3 Calendar: With the exception of IFLA, requests for official representation may be forwarded to the appropriate units and IRC at any time. They will be considered at each conference.

1.4 Responsibilities of the ALA IRC for Identifying ALA Representatives

1.4.1 ALA IRC: In open session, the IRC will discuss the advisability of ALA representation to suggested meetings or organizations.

1.4.2 In executive session, the IRC will review individuals' nominations, transmitted through the "Request for Approval to Represent ALA at an International Meeting" form. The criteria outlined in Section 1.2, Identification of ALA Representatives, will be followed.

1.4.3 The Chair of the ALA IRC will send an acknowledgement to the sender of each application received.

1.4.4 The Chair of the ALA IRC presents recommendations to the ALA Executive Board at each conference as is appropriate.

1.5 Responsibilities of the ALA Executive Board for Identifying ALA Representatives

1.5.1 Makes all final decisions regarding official ALA representation.

1.5.2 Transmits its decisions to the selectees, the ALA IRC, and the appropriate subunit.

2 General Procedures for Funding of Official Representatives to an International Organization or Meeting

2.1 Normally, representatives must be willing and able to fund their own participation.

3 Responsibilities of ALA Representatives

3.1 The representative shall provide a written report to the sponsoring units on appropriate developments and information from the meeting(s) attended. The representative shall also transmit a copy of his/her report(s) to the ALA IRC and the Director of International Relations Office within a month of the conclusion of the meeting unless other arrangements have been made.

3.2 These reports may appear in appropriate ALA publications.

3.3 The representative shall also coordinate with the ALA International Relations Office and Committee the selection of appropriate information to be reported at the at the ALA Annual Conference.

4 Special Procedures for IFLA Appointments

4.1 Bodies responsible for making nominations

The IFLA Statutes state that only member associations and institutions and Personal Affiliates may nominate individuals for election to Standing Committees, and that those organizations can nominate an individual only if that organization belongs to the IFLA section to which the individual is being nominated. As an association member of IFLA, the American Library Association nominates representatives to IFLA standing committees. The ALA procedures outlined below are used for identifying candidates for ALA Board endorsement. The ALA International Relations Committee makes recommendations to the ALA Executive Board, which determines the final nominations to IFLA.

4.2 Terms of appointment

4.2.1 IFLA calls for nominations to standing committees every two years, in the fall of an even numbered year (e.g., calls for nominations go out in the fall of 2000 for a term beginning in 2001; 2002 for a term beginning in 2003, etc.). This means that the ALA IRC must have their nominees identified and ready to send to the ALA Board by the end of the corresponding even numbered years at the Annual conferences. (See separate section on Calendar in 4.5.)

4.2.2 An IFLA committee member serves for a four-year term. The committee member can then be nominated and re-elected for a second four-year term.

4.2.3 An individual may serve for only two consecutive four-year terms on any one committee.

4.3 Criteria for Selection

4.3.1 The ALA unit (if one exists) recommending the individual for an IFLA committee nomination, the ALA IRC and the ALA Board should evaluate individuals based on the following criteria at the point of placing their names in nomination for an IFLA standing committee. Additionally, interested parties should familiarize themselves with the document included in the Appendix "Frequently asked questions concerning ALA IFLA nominations."

4.3.1 Mandatory: The representative shall be a member of ALA. The representative generally shall be a member of, and active in an ALA divisional or sectional committee concerned with the area being represented. The representative must have a knowledge of at least one working language of IFLA (English is a working language) and should have reasonable expectation of attending meetings of the standing committee without cost to IFLA or ALA.

4.3.2 Desired:

The following are not listed in priority order, and it is understood that perhaps no individual can fully satisfy all desired qualifications. They are meant merely to provide general guidance. Professional qualifications include that the individual: Should be fully conversant with the theories, issues and practices underlying the area in question. Should have been engaged in operations or activities in the area concerned for a substantial period of time. As appropriate to the assignment, should have had experience with national or international standard-setting activities. Should be articulate and persuasive. Should possess demonstrated abilities in leadership and in dealing with people tactfully. Should have had some experience in international librarianship.

4.4 Documentation supporting a candidate for an IFLA Standing Committee

4.4.1 The candidate should provide: The ALA Board requires that a nominee for an IFLA standing committee provide a resume and a letter to the sponsoring unit describing why the individual's qualifications make him/her a good choice for serving on the appropriate committee.

4.4.2 The sponsoring unit should provide a letter describing why the unit believes this person is qualified to serve as a representative.

4.4.3 Statement of acceptance: If selected as a nominee by the ALA Executive Board, the nominee should provide the following as required by IFLA in addition to the above information. A statement of the nominee that he/she accepts the nomination; A statement by the nominee that he/she can fulfill the working language and travel requirements. A nominee should not expect funding from ALA event though he/she is representing ALA.

4.5 Appointment calendar

4.5.1 Differences between the ALA and IFLA calendars: There are significant differences between ALA and IFLA in IFLA's appointment calendar as well as in the way standing committee nominations are made.

4.5.2 In order to meet ALA's and IFLA's deadlines for nominations, the following Calendar is imposed. The calendar will be described in When//Action terms.

4.5.3 Every odd year (e.g., 2001, 2003, 2005) // the ALA IRC will begin the nomination process by: Early Fall // ALA IRC Chair and the ALA IR Office gather information regarding current ALA-supported IFLA appointments with regard to which IFLA committees are of direct interest to ALA, who is currently on the committee, who is eligible for reelection, and who must leave the committee. Early Fall // ALA IRC Chair, working with the IRO Director, sends a memo to ALA-supported IFLA appointees, the ALA Board, and the chairs of divisions and round tables and other ALA leaders informing them that they will have the opportunity to nominate individuals for IFLA standing committees and that they will need to do so prior to the ALA Midwinter meeting. Fall // ALA IRC publishes an announcement of the availability of nominations in American Libraries. This is the official call for nominations. Fall // Candidates assemble required paperwork and submit it to the appropriate ALA unit for support.

4.5.4 IFLA Nominations calendar: Every even year (e.g., 2000, 2002, 2004 ) When//Action Midwinter Conference // Appropriate ALA units decide which nominees to forward to the ALA IRC for endorsement. By May 15 // ALA unit submits its recommendations and all required paperwork to the ALA IRO for discussion during the annual conference. Annual Conference // ALA International Relations Committee reviews nominations and forwards its recommendations to the ALA Executive Board. Annual Conference // ALA Executive Board decides which names to approve as ALA nominees. Fall - Late Fall // ALA IRO notifies the approved nominees and begins coordinating the preparation of all paperwork necessary to make an official nomination.

4.5.6 IFLA nominations calendar: Second odd year (e.g., 2001, 2003, 2005) following the call for nominations: When // Action February // ALA IRO submits the nominations to IFLA Headquarters. March // IFLA IRO notifies ALA, the appropriate units, and nominees of new standing committee members and submit votes on postal ballots for any IFLA committee having more than 20 people on a standing committee. The ALA IRC shall recommend to the ALA Board how the ALA ballot shall be cast. The ALA Board will decide whom to support, following receipt of the IRC recommendations. April // Elections complete, new members are notified and receive orientation materials from IFLA Headquarters. August // New standing committee members attend IFLA Conference.