Chapter 3: ACRL Committees

3.1 ACRL committee structure

3.1.1 Types of committees

There are two types of divisional committees in ACRL: standing committees—both content, those dealing with issues of the profession, and process, those dealing with the business of the association. In addition, the Board may establish task forces or advisory committees as needed. ACRL sections also have committees; the ACRL Chapters Council may appoint process committees.

The committee year begins at the close of the Annual Conference and continues through the close of the next Annual Conference.

Except in the case of newly authorized committees, all committee members, chairs, and vice-chairs are appointed in the spring by the ACRL vice-president with the support of the Appointments Committee.

3.1.2 Standing committees

Members of ACRL standing committees are usually appointed for two-year terms. Members may succeed themselves for one additional two-year term, but consecutive service may not exceed five years. Note: ACRL Liaisons Assembly liaisons may serve up to six consecutive years (Source: Fall Board Virtual Meeting, 2022). Reappointment to a committee shall be based on the activities and contributions of the committee member. Terms of service on a committee should be staggered to ensure continuity of membership. Appointments may be made for more or less than the usual two-year terms if required to establish such continuity. Coordinating committees

To coordinate the work of units throughout the organization, reduce duplicative efforts, and allow the organization to conduct work more quickly and effectively, a number of standing committees that have similar or related missions have been linked under the umbrella of a coordinating committee. Coordinating committees have organization-wide responsibilities to coordinate a broadly defined range of efforts in a given area, such as publications, and organize the efforts into a coherent and effectively implemented set of programs and initiatives that more closely align to strategic goals. (Source: ACRL Board, June 2005)

3.1.3 Size of committees

An ACRL committee, task force, or editorial board must have no fewer than five appointed members, including the chair and vice-chair. Appointment terms should be staggered to aid in continuity. (Source: ACRL Board, Spring 2005)

3.1.4 Advisory committees and task forces

An advisory committee or a task force may be established by the Board of Directors for a special project or activity. The life of any such advisory committee or task force is limited to a maximum of two years. Unless extended by the ACRL Board or Executive Committee, the committee so established will cease to exist at the end of its second year. Members are appointed for a term of one or two years and are appointed by either the ACRL president or vice-president, who also designates one member to serve as chair (as well as vice-chair as appropriate) of the committee or task force.

3.1.5 Section committees

Sections have the right to appoint committees to carry on the business of the section, to implement programs, or to perform specific functions. Each section's governance procedures describe how standing and special committees are appointed.

3.2 Establishment of new divisional committees

Standing divisional committees are established by the Board according to article XVIII, Sec. 2 of the ACRL Bylaws. When the ACRL Board finds it necessary to establish a new committee, a committee charge is stated and the composition defined. Upon approval by the Board of Directors, the ACRL president or vice-president, will then appoint a committee chair, vice-chair, and committee members. A meeting of the new committee should be scheduled to take place at the next ALA Annual Conference or Midwinter Meeting.

When establishing a committee, care should be taken not to usurp the jurisdiction held by another ALA division.

3.3 Requirements for nomination or appointment to division office, boards, and committees

For complete details on the ACRL policies on committee appointments, please refer to section 7.1.1 of the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures.

3.4 Current standing committees

The ALA Handbook of Organization, lists all committee membership and identifies the functions and responsibilities of the various ALA units. The ACRL Directory of Leadership provides access to all of ACRL's current standing committees and Online Handbook pages.

3.5 Committee appointments

Committee terms begin immediately following the Annual Conference; July 1 is used as the annual transition date from one committee roster to the subsequent year's committee roster. The Appointments Committee and vice-president review anticipated vacancies and extend appointment invitations to ACRL member volunteers to fill them. The committee volunteer deadline is in mid-February and appointments are extended in the spring in order to have the coming year's committee roster in place before the Annual Conference year each.

3.5.1 Committee leadership

Division-level committees are lead by chairs and vice-chairs to aid in continuity of committee work. Division level committee appointments to include a one-year term of vice-chair in addition to the one-year term of chair. The vice-chair is expected to serve as chair the following term. Since it is important that the vice-chair/chair be knowledgeable about the responsibilities and concerns of the committee, it is suggested that the committee vice-chair/chair be selected from the existing committee membership. The ACRL vice-president is the appointing authority for division-level committees including coordinating committees. (Source: Board January 2009; June 2010)

The Budget and Finance Committee Chair is a two year term and the Budget and Finance Committee is exempted from the vice-chair position. (Source: Board June 2009)

3.5.2 Appointment of committee members

The vice-president and Appointments Committee should annually invite recommendations from committee chairs on committee appointments. The recommendations of the committee chair should be carried out unless there is some overriding reason not to do so.

ACRL members are encouraged to volunteer to serve on committees. Interested individuals may complete a Committee Volunteer form.

3.5.3 Committee appointee responsibilities

  • Be familiar with and understand the committee charge.
  • Maintain membership with ALA and ACRL.
  • Be willing and able to participate in the activities of the committee, support its mission or concern, and carry out assignments in a timely manner.

Joint responsibilities of Chair and Vice-chair

Association Literacy

  • Be familiar with ACRL's Guide to Policies and Procedurces, report and request forms and other online resources.
  • Consult with the outgoing chair about current activities, programs, and projects, so that transition is as seamless as possible.

Leadership and Communication

  • Establish and maintain a relationship with the committee’s Board and staff liaisons.
  • In discussion with the committee’s Board liaison, develop an annual work plan which includes measurable outcomes to advance the committee’s work in connection to the ACRL strategic plan.
  • Assign duties to committee members and monitor progress toward achieving outcomes.
  • Copy the committee’s Board and staff liaisons on important communications about the work of the committee.


  • Conduct all meetings in accordance with ALA’s "Open meetings" policy, which states: all meetings of the ALA and its units are open to all members of the press. Closed meetings may be held for the discussion of matters affecting the privacy of individuals and institutions.
  • Understand that committee members must follow ALA’s standard registration requirements for the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference.

Duties of the Chair

  • Prepare a written report of activities and committee progress to achieve annual work plan outcomes for the Board annually.
  • Submit documents for Board consideration by the announced deadline (approximately four weeks before the scheduled date of meeting) and copy the committee’s Board and staff liaisons.
  • Preside at all committee meetings or arrange for the vice-chair to preside.
  • Make recommendations to the Appointments Committee Chair on reappointment of members when invited.
  • Notify the ACRL President and Executive Director of resignations submitted.
  • Maintain and condense the committee files and pass them on to the incoming chair at Annual Conference.

Duties of the Vice-chair

  • In consultation with the chair and staff liaison, arrange the date, time, and location of committee meetings with ALA Conference Services.
  • Arrange to have notes taken at each meeting that capture decisions made and articulate next steps. Distribute meeting notes to committee members and the committee’s Board and staff liaisons within two weeks of the meeting.
  • In consultation with the chair and staff liaison, manage the committee's budget. Each committee has $150 to cover basic expenses. The committee's ACRL staff liaison can assist you with the reimbursement proces. If more than $150 is needed, consult with your staff liaison who will advise on next steps.
  • In consultation with the chair and staff liaison, request funding as appropriate for conference programs by submitting an Annual Conference program proposal form. Complete details are available in the program FAQ.

3.6 Representatives to other organizations

Generally, appointment of representatives, reciprocal or otherwise, to other divisions within ALA follow the process for appointment of ACRL committee members and are made by the vice-president/president-elect. Initial appointment shall be for a term of two years unless approved otherwise by the ACRL Board. Reappointment is permitted, but consecutive service may not exceed four years. The appointment of representatives to key higher education organizations shall follow the procedure outlined by the ACRL External Liaisons Committee (formerly the ACRL Liaisons Coordinating Committee).

Sections may identify organizations in their areas of interest and appoint a member to represent the section with the organization. All ACRL liaison activity is coordinated through the ACRL Liaisons Assembly.

3.6.1 Liaisons Assembly

The ACRL External Liaisons Committee (formerly ACRL Liaisons Coordinating Committee) was established by the ACRL Board of Directors at the 2010 Annual Conference Meeting. In August 2018, the ACRL Board of Directors approved the elimination of the Liaisons Coordinating Committee, Liaisons Grants Committee, Liaisons Training and Development Committee and the creation of the ACRL External Liaisons Committee.

ALA Policy 9.4.2 Informal Relationships

Members of ALA or one of its units may be appointed to provide service, information, or to network with organizations outside the association for the purpose of accomplishing mutual goals. Such representatives have no formal role in the governing structure of the other unit or organization and the appointment of such representatives does not, in and of itself, constitute a “formal relationship” or an “affiliation” as defined in ALA Policies 9.1–9.3.

ALA Bylaws Section 3

Type-of-library divisions focus attention upon planning in and evaluation of all functions as they contribute to the services of the library. Type-of library divisions are interested in the general improvement and extension of service to the clientele and agencies served. Each such division has specific responsibility for: (4) Representation and interpretation of its type-of-library in contacts outside the profession as defined in ALA Bylaws: Section 3.

3.6.2 Guidelines for funding for members of the Liaisons Assembly

The ACRL External Liaisons Committee establishes procedures for applying for and receiving funds in support of liaison activities. Visit for details on procedures.

  1. Only liaisons whose positions are on record with the ACRL External Liaisons Committee may apply for funding. Source: Spring Executive Committee Meeting, 2011.
  2. Reimbursement for liaison expenses is contingent upon submission of reports suitable for distribution to the ACRL Board and for possible publication. Source: Spring Executive Committee Meeting, 2011.

3.6.3 Liaisons Assembly Term Limits

ACRL Liaisons Assembly liaisons may serve up to six consecutive years. Source: Fall Board Virtual Meeting, 2022.

3.7 Contracts

ALA is the legal and financial entity with respect to financial and contractual obligations incurred by ACRL as a division of ALA. The ACRL executive director is accountable to ALA for compliance with financial and other policies and guidelines. All contracts must be approved by the ACRL executive director and signed by an ALA associate executive director.

3.8 Expenditures and budget

ACRL committees may submit reimbursement requests up to $150 annually. This amount is expected to cover costs for such things as telephone, postage, faxing, photocopying, etc. Requests for reimbursement must be forwarded to the ACRL office with original receipts by August 15.

When a committee wants to undertake a project that will require financial support beyond $150, the committee chair should discuss the project with the ACRL executive director or ACRL president. The ACRL Board of Directors will consider requests to fund special projects. Also, committees may request approval to seek outside funding.

3.9 Committee rosters

The ACRL office maintains and publishes the official list of all division and section committees online as part of the ALA Handbook of Organization. The ACRL office should be notified of all changes in committee membership so the database and rosters can be kept current. Dynamic rosters for the committees are available from the Directory of Leadership page of the ACRL Web site and reflect changes as soon as they are made to the database. The rosters are published in a members-only section to ensure individuals privacy.

3.10 Meeting agendas and minutes

Committees should keep the Board informed about the work of the committee through written reports of meetings and activities. Chairs should also send the agenda and attachments to committee members in advance of the meetings. For Annual Conference, agendas and attachments should also be sent to incoming members of the committee.

Committee chairs should report actions and recommendations from each committee meeting by posting documents to ALA Connect and submitting them to ACRL headquarters for archiving. The ACRL office maintains an official file on each committee (including section committees) and retains a five-year back file in Chicago. After five years, the files are transferred to the ALA Archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana.

3.10.1 Coordinating committee meeting agendas

Coordinating committee meetings generally follow this pattern:

  1. an initial coordinating and component committees meeting as a whole
  2. meetings of each of the related and included committees (in the same room at the same time)
  3. a second coordinating committee meeting as a whole within that same time slot

Note: Because coordinating committee chairs may need to meet with the Board, the time slots should not be scheduled at the same time as the Board meetings.

    Source: ACRL Board, June 2005

    3.11 Annual work plans

    The ACRL Board is responsible for stewarding the association’s implementation of its strategic plan, the Plan for Excellence. The Plan for Excellence details the Board’s vision for ACRL’s initiatives related to the Value of Academic Libraries; Student Learning; Research and the Scholarly Environment; New Roles and Changing Landscapes; and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The Board has vested five strategic goal-area committees with the responsibility for identifying specific activities to accomplish ACRLs’ strategic objectives. The Board works closely with its five strategic goal-area committees as well as all division-level committees to establish a cohesive and comprehensive association-wide plan for action.

    The ACRL planning cycle includes both detailed planning for the current year as well as planning for future years as appropriate to ensure that ACRL has the resources and foundation in place to realize ACRL’s strategic goals. The Committee chair, vice-chair, board liaison, and staff liaison comprise a leadership team responsible for accomplishing committee’s charge.

    3.11.1 Work plan preparation responsibility

    Division-level committee chairs have been tasked by the Board with preparing annual committee work plans (template available on the ACRL Forms Page), in coordination with the committee vice-chair, Board and staff liaisons, and committee members. Component Committees are also expected to coordinate work plans with Coordinating Committees and Coordinating Committee chairs are expected to establish a timeframe and lead coordination efforts. Annual committee work plans should address responsibilities included in the committee charge as well as any additional special projects committees plan to undertake to advance ACRL’s strategic goals.

    The ACRL Planning Cycle Process and Deadlines Handout (PDF) details relevant dates and serves as a helpful overview of the process. The ACRL Planning Cycle at a Glance Handout (PDF) provides a visual overview of ACRL's annual strategic planning activities.

    3.11.2 Work plan review responsibility

    Board liaisons to committees are responsible for:

    1. Providing feedback in concert with staff liaison to committee on its draft annual work plan in order to collaboratively develop the final work plan.
    2. Approving the final work plan via email.
    3. Scanning the work plans, identifying any activities that relate to the strategic goal initiatives and then sending such activities to the attention of the chairs of the strategic goal area committees, Board members serving on the goal-area committees, and the staff liaisons of the strategic goal-area committees.
    4. Providing support (working with the staff liaison) to the committee as the work plan is implemented throughout the year.

    3.11.3 Work plan review criteria

    Board liaisons will review the proposed work plan against the criteria listed below. The Board liaison will work in concert with the staff liaison to coordinate liaison feedback to the committee.

    Annual work plan review criteria:

    1. How do the activities detailed in the work plan advance the Plan for Excellence and/or ACRL’s enabling programs and services?
    2. Is the report of last year’s activities included?
    3. Review the committee’s charge and task list. Does the plan include the work the Board has charged the committee with carrying out on behalf of ACRL? If not all of the charge is addressed is that because it is not reasonable to carry out everything in one year? Make sure there is not a trend of not addressing certain parts of the charge.
    4. Does the plan include adequate assignments and deadlines to ensure all committee members have a role, progress is consistent, and ACRL deadlines are met as appropriate?
    5. Is the work plan consistent with the SMART goals standards (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely)?
    6. Are there potential financial or policy implications?
    7. Are there plans that appear to be outside the scope of the committee’s charge?
    8. Are there plans that support one of the four goal-area committees? If that is the case, please share with the chair of the appropriate goal area committee, the Board member serving on that committee and the staff liaison to ensure groups work together.

    3.12 Strategic initiative planning

    Strategic goal-area committees have been tasked by the Board with preparing an annual report and work plan (template available on the ACRL Forms Page). Formerly, goal-are committees also have the option to complete an overview of the association’s strategic goal area initiative plans using the Strategic Initiative Planning Grid (available by contacting their staff liaison) in addition to preparing annual committee work plans. In recent years, goal-area committees have stopped the multi-year planning grid, but if a goal-area committee would like to use this multi-year tool, they should contact their staff liaison. In both planning processes, these committee chairs will work closely with their committee vice-chair, Board and staff liaisons, and committee members.

    The ACRL Planning Cycle Process and Deadlines Handout (PDF) details relevant dates and serves as a helpful overview of the process. The ACRL Planning Cycle at a Glance Handout (PDF) provides a visual overview of ACRL's annual strategic planning activities.

    3.13 Communication with the Board

    Committees may also submit requests for Board action as agenda items for ACRL Board meetings or consideration via virtual vote. Requests for Board action should be submitted to the Board staff liaison using the Board Action Form, which can be found on the ACRL Forms Page. The deadline for submission of documents for Board consideration is approximately four to six weeks before the Board meeting and exact dates are announced well in advance by ACRL staff. When an item cannot wait until the next regularly scheduled Board meeting, consideration via virtual vote may be requested.

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