Frequently Asked Questions About Working on a Virtual Committee
Q: Can a virtual committee meet in-person at conferences?
A: As a virtual committee, all work is expected to take place virtually. It is certainly acceptable for those members who will be attending conference to gather socially. However, because members agreed to serve on a virtual committee, no work should take place. Members unable to attend may feel ostracized. If each and every member of the committee unanimously agrees to an in-person meeting it is permissible, however, it should not deter from the bulk of the committee’s work being conducted virtually.
Q: How do I handle copying ALSC leadership on emails, documents and other communication when using ALA Connect?
A: ALSC leadership, except for your board liaison, does not have access to your committee space. It is important to keep leadership apprised of any significant issues related to committee work. Do they need to see every single post and discussion? Probably not, so long as you make sure to alert them of any major issues. You will need to exercise good judgment in determining what items need to be copied. Make sure to attach, or cut and paste into an email to leadership, any discussions of significance. If you are uncertain, consult with your PGC. You will want to summarize all work in your quarterly reports which are due on February 15, May 15, September 15, and December 15. The online reporting form can be found on the ALSC website. If there is something they feel they need to know more about, they will let you know.
Q: Doesn’t leadership receive notification anytime something new is posted to a committee’s Connect space?
A: No, ALSC leadership will not receive notifications when something new is posted to a committee’s Connect space. Only members of that specific committee group have access to any and all documents within the committee’s Connect space. Additionally, members of that Connect group will not receive notifications when something is posted in the Committee’s Library. If you would like your fellow committee members to be notified when something is posted to the Library, you must either: publish a discussion post within the Connect space about the file(s) you uploaded, or send an email to the group outside of Connect.
Q: Will all the committee members receive notification when something new is posted on our Connect space?
A: Considering committee members have their notifications enabled, members who are a part of the Connect space will receive notifications when a new discussion post is posted. However, they will not receive notifications when files are uploaded to the committee’s Library space. If you would like your fellow committee members to be notified when something is posted to the Library, you must either: publish a discussion post within the Connect space about the file(s) you uploaded, or send an email to the group outside of Connect.
Q: Do we need to use ALA Connect?
A: Your committee’s ALA Connect space is a valuable tool and can serve as a repository and portal. It makes it easy for members to quickly access information. Rather than needing to search through emails, members can easily find the information in Connect. There are other communication and collaboration platforms which can be used; however, at minimum, all agendas, meeting minutes, and quarterly/year-end reports, should be posted within your committee’s Connect space.
Q: What platforms should be used for communication or monthly meetings?
A: It is entirely up to the committee to decide how they would like to communicate with one another. Some recommended platforms are: Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or through regular email. All of these platforms have free/basic plans the Chair’s can set-up. If you would like to use the ALSC Zoom license to hold your meetings, please visit the Scheduling Zoom Meetings through ALSC section for instructions. Please note, if your committee is sharing or discussing confidential information, you should ensure your methods of communication are secure and not accessible to anyone outside of your committee.
Q: Should I prepare an agenda and minutes for online meetings or conference calls?
A: Yes. It is good practice to provide an agenda to all participants ahead of time. This will help keep the meeting focused and running on time. Minutes are strongly suggested. While chat allows you to have a transcript, reading a full transcript can be cumbersome for those who were unable to attend. Minutes can provide a brief and organized account of the meeting as well a breakdown of any assigments or deadlines issued.
Q: What if a member can't attend the virtual meetings?
A: There will always be times when members have conflicts and can't attend. When members miss meetings they are expected to read the minutes and follow-up on any assignments they were given. You will want to evaluate the overall contribution of the member. You may have a member who is unable to attend many of the meetings, but follows through on all assignments and therefore is still actively contributing to the committee.
Q: What's the difference between ALA Connect and The ALSC blog?
A: Yes, it can be quite confusing! Here is some brief information to assist you in discerning the differences:
• ALA Connect - ALA Connect is a powerful professional networking site created by ALA to facilitate communication and collaboration. It is where an official ALA group or division group should store and organize its work. It is generally used for communication among a specified group of users. This is where your committee will store documents and post announcements for committee members. Think of it as the official committee binder.
• ALSC Blog - The ALSC blog is a controlled blog, but you are welcome to submit posts to the ALSC Blog Manager to be published. This is the place to announce your committee's work to others. Think of it as a newsletter where you can share the work of your committee to the public.