STS Manual: Governance Procedures of the Science and Technology Section (STS)



In the 2008 election, members voted to approve the proposal for Sections and other “communities of practice” to operate with governance procedures instead of bylaws. According to the ACRL Bylaws, Article XV, Section 3 (Communities of Practice), “each community of practice shall establish written procedures related to its function and governance that shall be adopted by the membership of the group. A current copy shall be provided to the Executive Director.” By replacing the more formal bylaws with these governance procedures, Sections can revise the documentation that guides their Section’s structure without the lengthy timeline connected to election ballots.

The Section Executive Committee is authorized to adopt the governance procedures of the Sections, with the caveat, that no policies may be in conflict with ALA or ACRL bylaws or policies and procedures.

A. Name

The name of the organization shall be the Science and Technology Section (STS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, hereinafter referred to as the Section.

B. Purpose

ACRL Sections are established primarily for the purpose of building communities of learning and providing professional development and networking opportunities for their members. A Section’s name, purpose, and mission are as proposed by the Section and approved by the ACRL Board. The ACRL Board ascertains that overlaps between the mandates of various Sections are minimized.

The Section provides a forum through which librarians in scientific and technical subject fields can achieve and maintain awareness of the impact and range of information with which they work; it promotes improved accessibility to and active use of this information.

C. Membership

Any member of the Association of College and Research Libraries may elect membership in this Section.

The number of “community of practice” affiliations included in the basic ACRL dues is determined by the ACRL Board. The dues for additional affiliations are also set by the ACRL Board.

Every member has the right to vote. Any personal member is eligible to hold office.

D. Relationship to ACRL Board

The Board shall be authorized to establish Communities of Practice (including Sections), to monitor their activities, and determine their continuance in consultation with the respective groups. The Board shall also be entitled to establish policies to govern the activities of Communities of Practice. (ACRL Bylaws, Article XV)

The Board liaison role provides a critical connection between membership structures and the ACRL Board of Directors. This liaison role can be particularly helpful in providing perspective, guidance, and insight regarding ACRL policies, procedures, and initiatives; soliciting feedback from Communities of Practice regarding proposed Board actions; and providing helpful advice regarding Action Plan Proposals and Board Action Forms which community of practice leaders will need to submit for official ACRL Board and ACRL Executive Committee action/decisions. The liaison relationship is meant to enhance communication; it is not an advocacy role and for that reason Board members are asked to liaison with communities in which they have not been active. (Tip Sheet for Board Responsibilities)

The Board of Directors is the voice for the association. Sections, committees, and other established units are not authorized to speak for the association except through the Board. This is to say that unit leaders should refrain from issuing statements, taking positions, or endorsing any statements or positions except with Board approval. (ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures, Chapter 5.12.8, Use of ACRL’s Name)

E. Meetings

Section 1. Annual Meetings. The annual Section meeting is held at the time and place of the ALA Annual Conference.

Section 2. Special Meetings. Other Section meetings may be called by the chair with the approval of the Executive Committee. Joint meetings may be held with other ALA units and all meetings are open to the Section membership.

Section 3. Quorum. Thirty (30) members of the Section constitute a quorum for the transaction of Section business.

Section meetings at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and ALA Annual Conference are scheduled by the Section chair.

ACRL units are encouraged to work outside of Midwinter and/or Annual Conference to increase group participation, efficiency, and productivity. Electronic meetings are conducted within the environment of ALA/ACRL bylaws and policies. In all cases these requirements must be adhered to, although they may have to be adopted to fit the virtual environment.

The ALA Policy Manual 7.4.1 defines a meeting as “an official assembly, for any length of time following a designated starting time, of the members of any board, committee task force, commission, etc., during which the members do not separate except for a recess and in which the assembly has the capacity to formalize decisions.” Conference calls, Internet chat sessions (and their equivalents), and in-person meetings are recognized as meetings subject to the open meetings policy (ALA Policy 7.4.4). Executive level committees (e.g. STS Council) must confirm all decisions made by formal vote in these forums by affirming the actions at the next face-to-face meeting.

There is a distinction between carrying on work of a committee electronically and conducting an electronic meeting. Asynchronous electronic discussions by electronic mail or other asynchronous communication methods do not constitute meetings because they are not an official assembly with a designated starting time (ALA Policy Manual 7.4.1).

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (Alice Sturgis) applies to meetings of the Section to the extent that it is applicable, upholds the integrity of the voting processes, helps facilitate progress, and ensures equality, fairness, and common sense.

F. Officers

The Section will have a vice-chair/chair-elect and a chair to ensure succession.

Section 1. Officers.

The officers of this Section shall be a chair, a vice-chair/chair-elect, the immediate past-chair, a secretary, a publicity officer and two members-at-large. These officers constitute the Executive Committee. The chair, vice-chair/chair elect and the immediate past-chair shall serve for one year or until their successors are elected and qualified. The positions of secretary, publicity officer, and member-at-large shall serve for two years or until their successors are elected and qualified. Terms begin at the adjournment of the Annual Conference.

Section 2. Responsibilities.

(a) The chair shall be responsible for calling and coordinating the Midwinter and Annual meetings of the Section. The chair appoints members of ad hoc and standing committees as necessary. The chair is responsible for budgeting, payment and reimbursement of funds. The chair reports section activities to the ACRL Board. The chair attends the ACRL Communities of Practice Assembly (COPA) meeting and reports to the STS Council. The chair, with the approval of the Executive Committee, may appoint and charge a Section member to serve as the section representative to other sections or bodies.

(b) The vice-chair/chair-elect shall serve as an assistant to the chair and assume responsibilities of the chair in his/her absence. The vice-chair/chair-elect will also be responsible for appointing a Conference Program Planning Committee and chair for the annual program meeting of the Section, serves as an ex-officio member, and reports to the ACRL vice-chair/chair-elect. The vice-chair/chair-elect makes appointments to all other STS committees for terms beginning in his or her term as chair. The vice-chair/chair-elect also attends the ACRL Communities of Practice Assembly meeting and reports to the STS Council.

(c) The secretary shall be responsible for taking and distributing the minutes of the Midwinter and Annual Conferences. The secretary maintains the records of the Section and serves as corresponding secretary. The term for secretary is two years.

(d) The publicity officer shall be responsible for publicity, including notifying and distributing to interested parties announcements of section activities as directed by the Executive Committee. The term for publicity officer is two years.

(e) The immediate past chair shall be responsible for chairing the Nominating Committee, serving as liaison to the ACRL Executive Committee; and revising and distributing the section manual.

(f) The members-at-large shall attend and participate in Executive Committee and Council meetings; attend STS committee and task force meetings as designated to facilitate section work and communication; and serve as liaison or member of committees/task forces/projects of interest to the Executive Committee.

G. Executive Committee

The Section Executive Committee is responsible for the stewardship of the Section and the coordination of its activities, provided that it operates within the Section mandate and budget as determined by membership level (ACRL Guide to Policy and Procedure, Basic Services, 4.3.2).

Section 1. Composition. The Executive Committee shall be the Officers of the Section.

Section 2. Powers and Duties. The Executive Committee provides direction for the attainment of the objectives of the section. The Executive Committee conducts the business of the section during the period between Section meetings in accordance with the rules and guidelines of ALA and ACRL. The Executive Committee may establish and appoint standing or ad-hoc committees to assist it in fulfilling the Section’s mandate.

Section 3. Meetings. Regular meetings of the Executive Committee are held at the ALA Annual and Midwinter Conferences. Special meetings may be called at the discretion of the chair. All Executive Committee meetings are open to the section membership.

Section 4. Quorum. A majority of voting members constitutes a quorum at any meeting of the Executive Committee.

H. STS Council

Section 1. Composition. All members of the Executive Committee as well as chairs of Committees, Discussion Groups and Taskforces shall serve on the STS Council.

Section 2. Powers and Duties. The STS Council serves as an advisory body to the Chair and the Executive Committee, acting as a channel of information and discussion to the committees and membership at large. Matters of policy or operations requiring Council action shall normally be referred first to the Executive Committee.

Section 3. Meetings. The council shall meet at least once each Annual and Midwinter Meeting. Agendas will be distributed at least two weeks in advance by the Section Chair, who will also serve as the Chair of the Council. Additional meetings may be called at the discretion of the chair. All Council meetings are open to the Section membership. The STS Secretary will take notes and promptly distribute minutes of all meetings to the Council members.

I. Committees

Section 1. Authorization and Discontinuance. Section committees may be authorized or discontinued by the chair with the approval of the Executive committee.

Section 2. Standing Committees.

(a) Standing Committees may be established to consider matters of the Section that require continuity of attention by the members.

(b) The function, name and size are to be determined at the time the committee is established.

(c) Terms of Standing Committee chairs and members shall be for two years, unless otherwise approved by the Executive Committee. Reappointment may be made for a second term, but not a third consecutive term.

Section 3. Ad hoc Committees. Ad hoc committees may be established at any time for the performance of a particular assignment. No such committee will continue beyond four (4) years without review and reapproval by the Executive Committee.

Section 4. Appointment.

(a) The Section vice-chair/chair-elect appoints committee members from the Section membership to fill vacancies due to occur during his/her term as chair.

(b) The Section vice-chair/chair-elect will name committee chairs.

J. Discussion Groups

Section 1. Establishment and Discontinuance. Informal discussion groups, to meet at the time of ALA Annual and Midwinter Conferences, may be formed by the Section chair. Discussion group chairs are appointed by the Section vice-chair/chair-elect. A discussion group may be dissolved at the request of the Executive Committee if the group becomes inactive.

Section 2. Members. Typically no formal membership exists, beyond the chairs of the Discussion Group. However additional members may be appointed as needed by the Section vice-chair/chair-elect.

K. Nominations and Elections

To be nominated, elected, and continue to serve on a Section’s Executive Committee, a person must be a current member of the Section (with ALA, ACRL, and section dues—if applicable—paid).

Section 1. Nominating Committee.

(a) The vice-chair/chair-elect appoints the Nominating Committee of three members, designating the immediate past chair as committee chair.

(b) The committee will choose, in accordance with the timetable set by the Executive Director of ACRL, a slate of two nominees for each elected office that will be vacant at the time of the next election. The elections for secretary and publicity officer are held in alternate years.

(c) Nominees must be Section members and must consent in writing to their candidacy.

Section 2. Statement of Objectives. To assist the Section membership in making an informed choice, each vice-chair/chair-elect candidate will provide a brief statement of objectives for the Section to be posted on STS-L prior to the balloting. The Nominating Committee will coordinate this process for all eligible candidates.

Section 3. Additional Nominees. Additional nominations of Section members for inclusion on the ballot may be made by petitions signed by no fewer than twenty (20) section members and filed with the Executive Director of ACRL at least three months prior to the date on which ballots must be mailed.

Section 4. Election. The elections are conducted as part of the ALA annual balloting. For each office, the candidate receiving the largest number of votes cast is elected. In the case of a tie vote, the successful candidate is determined by lot.

L. Vacancies

Section 1. Chair. The vice-chair/chair-elect shall succeed to the office of the chair and shall continue in that office until the expiration of the term for which she/he was originally elected to serve as chair. The vacated vice-chair/chair-elect position shall remain vacant until the next general election.

Section 2. Vice-Chair/Chair-elect. Vacancies filled only by election. If both the offices of the chair and the vice-chair become vacant, the Executive Committee will elect from its membership a chair to serve the remainder of the term. Both vacancies will be filled at the next general election.

Section 3. Other Elected Officers. The Section chair shall appoint a STS Section member to complete the term of the office vacated.

Section 4. Committees. Any committee vacancies occurring during a term may be filled by the Section vice-chair/chair-elect in consultation with the committee chair.

M. Amendments to Governance Procedures

These Operating Procedures may be amended by a vote of the STS Council upon the recommendation of the STS Executive Board in conjunction with the STS Organization and Planning Committee as long they are not in conflict with ALA/ACRL bylaws, policies, and procedures. Changes to these governance procedures do not require, and should not include, a ballot vote by the membership. Changes will take effect upon the adjournment of the STS Council meeting at which they are adopted. A current copy shall be provided to the Executive Director per ACRL Bylaws, Article XV, Section 3.

Wherever these governance procedures make no specific provisions, the organization and procedures of the Section shall correspond to those set forth by ACRL.

Adopted June 1979

Revisions adopted June 1992

Latest revisions adopted 2002

Revisions adopted June 2007

Governance procedures adopted January 2009

Executive Committee approval of revisions December 2013

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