Procedures for Establishing ALCTS Interest Groups

This article is taken from the ALCTS Bylaws, Article XII Interest Groups (division level) and Article X Section 11 Interest Groups.

The ALCTS Bylaws amendments allowing the formation of interest groups were approved by a vote of the membership in spring 2003. Procedures for establishing an interest group are simple and informal, to ensure that any group of ten or more individuals with a common interest within the scope of ALCTS may establish a forum in which to exchange ideas and experiences; sponsor formal conference programs, institutes, and seminars; or prepare publications.

Forming an Interest Group

The following tasks should be accomplished:

  1. Select a name that reflects the interest of the group.

  2. Establish a membership list (minimum 10 members).

  3. Identify the chair of the proposed group.

  4. Complete the petition to establish the group and forward to the ALCTS Office, to be forwarded to the ALCTS Board or section level executive committee. The petition shall include the name of the group, a function statement for the group, any requirements for membership, and the signatures of ten ALCTS members who will be members of the approved group. The group will exist as a unit of ALCTS upon approval of the ALCTS Board of Directors or section level executive committee. Standard ALCTS policies and practices will apply; the following text highlights some particular aspects of Interest Groups in the ALCTS organization.


Interest Groups are expected to meet at each ALA Annual Conference, and may also meet during the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The meeting at the ALA Annual Conference should include a business meeting, at which officers are selected and any other necessary business is completed. Discussions, reports, and planning sessions may be held at either the Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference, but formal programs are to be conducted only at the Annual Conference (per ALA policy).

An attendance list should be circulated at each meeting of the Group for all attendees to sign. The list is then retained by the group's chair, for planning purposes.

The Interest Group chair shall complete a Meeting Report at the close of each meeting and send it to the ALCTS Office and to the ALCTS Newsletter Online editor within a month of the meeting.

Officers and Duties

Each interest group shall have at least a chair. Other options include, but are not limited to, use of co-chairs (with overlapping or successive terms), or use of a chair and vice chair officers, again with overlapping or successive terms. Officers will be elected at the ALA Annual Conference for a term of one year. No officer of an Interest Group shall serve for more than two consecutive years in the same office.

The chair will:

  • coordinate activities of the Interest Group;

  • preside at meetings;

  • be responsible for submitting news items to the ALCTS Office and the ALCTS Newsletter Online;

  • report Interest Group activities to the ALCTS Board of Directors, if necessary and appropriate;

  • fulfill responsibilities for program planning and coordination with the ALCTS Program Committee;

  • ensure the annual selection of officers, and report the names of those officers to the ALCTS Office;

  • respond to correspondence from ALA Conference Services.

  • All time and room schedules and requests for special equipment for all meetings held at either the Annual Conference or Midwinter Meeting are requested through ALA Conference Services on forms supplied by that office to the Interest Group chair. Timely responses and a realistic estimate of the number of participants will help ensure that adequate space is available for the meetings.


Interest Groups may plan or sponsor programs at the ALA Annual Conference, sponsor institutes and preconferences, prepare publications, or carry out other activities with the approval of the ALCTS Board of Directors or other appropriate administrative committees. An Interest Group may appoint a Task Force for a specific purpose and duration to facilitate IG activity. Members of an Interest Group who are planning these activities should check the following sections of the ALCTS Manual:

  • Publishing

  • Programs at ALA Conferences

  • Institutes, Preconferences and Special Programs

Managed Discussions

A managed discussion is an alternative to an official program and differs from a program in several ways.

When an IG plans an official program it prepares an Annual Conference Program Form and presents it to the Program Committee. The IG may also request and receive budgetary support for the program. Once the program receives Board approval, a description of the program and its speakers prepared by the IG will be promoted with other ALCTS programs.

In contrast, managed discussions are less formal than official programs, although they may share certain other features, such as speakers or panelists. No program request forms need be completed, and no budgetary support is available. No description of the event appears in the preliminary or conference program.

A Managed Discussion is appropriate:

  • when the event will be very informal, often involving considerable discussion among IG members and speakers;

  • at Midwinter Meetings, where programs are not permitted;

  • when IG members want to build interest in a topic by first introducing it via a managed discussion at Midwinter, then presenting it as a formal program at Annual Conference;

  • if an opportunity or topic presents itself on short notice (that is, deadlines for proposing formal programs have passed);

  • when no budgetary support or extraordinary equipment request is needed;

  • when interest in the topic is likely to be limited to the members of a sponsoring IG;

  • if the topic is likely to attract a smaller audience than one would typically hope for with a program.

An IG should plan a Program, rather than a Managed Discussion, when:

  • the speaker(s) is (are) very well known and typically attract(s) a large audience;

  • there is sufficient time to plan a program (that is, key deadlines have not passed);

  • the topic is popular and likely to attract a large audience;

  • the topic has the potential to attract members of other ALCTS groups, as well as members of other ALA divisions;

  • budgetary support (including funding for special equipment) is needed to make the program a success;

  • a description of the program and speakers in the preliminary and conference bulletins is deemed important to build an audience.

Renewal or Demise

An Interest Group must submit a renewal petition to the ALCTS Organization & Bylaws Committee every three years, using the Interest Group Petition/Renewal Form. If an Interest Group's petition is not submitted, the Organization & Bylaws Committee will recommend to the Board that the Interest Group be dissolved.

Interest Group establishment and renewal dates are published annually on the ALCTS website and in the ALCTS Newsletter Online. The three-year counter towards renewal starts with the Annual Conference after approval by the ALCTS Board. Before submitting a renewal petition, an Interest Group should reconsider both its name and function statement, to be sure that they reflect the Group's current composition and interests.

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