ALSC Procedure for Implementing ALA Open Meeting Policy

From the ALSC Handbook of Organization: Committees of ALSC

The ALA Policy on Open Meetings, 7.4.3., is as follows:

“All meetings of the American Library Association and its units are open to all members and to members of the press. Registration requirements apply. Closed meetings may be held only for the discussion of matters affecting the privacy of individuals or institutions.”

In January, 1981, ALA Council adopted a statement interpreting this policy (Council Document #24) which the Association for Library Service to Children endorses. Committee chairs should familiarize themselves with this statement and its guidelines, for chairs are responsible for ensuring both the right of the membership to hear the business deliberations of the association and the privacy rights of individuals and institutions.

Generally speaking, the working sessions of ALSC committees are open to members who may listen to, but probably not participate in, a committee's deliberations. Members who accept appointment to a committee must also be willing to accept the spirit of the open meeting philosophy and be willing to make every effort to ensure that members observing can hear and view the proceedings.

When a chair sees that the business of a committee will require a closed session, she/he should indicate "closed" in the appropriate box on the meeting request form which must be filled out for the ALA Conference Arrangements Office before the midwinter and annual conferences. This ensures that the meeting will be designated "Closed" in the conference program, and adequately notifies the membership that the session is not open.

If the chair anticipates that only part of the business of a committee meeting requires a closed session, she/he should arrange to close at the beginning or end of the meeting time period, and should, if possible, indicate the time of the closed portion when filling out the meeting request form.

It is recognized that it is not always possible to anticipate closed meetings. If the need to close a meeting develops during a committee's deliberations, the chair should try to rearrange the agenda so that the closed session can take place at the beginning or at the end of the scheduled meeting time, and should announce the timing as soon as possible.

If a chair is uncertain about closing a meeting or a portion of a meeting, the situation should be referred to the Priority Group Consultant, who may consult with the ALSC President before deciding on the best course for the chair to take.

In reporting actions taken in closed sessions, a chair should follow the procedure outlined in the ALA Interpretive Statement.

Procedure for Reporting Inappropriately Closed Meetings:

A member who feels that a meeting of any ALSC unit has been inappropriately closed may make a complaint in writing to the ALSC President, stating the reasons for the objection to the closed session. The President and/or the ALSC Executive Committee will consider complaints as soon as possible and any action taken will affect future meetings, but it is unlikely that an immediate decision (during the meeting in question) can be made. The President will notify the complainant of the resolution of the complaint, and will report the incident to the Board at its next session. If the member is not satisfied with the decision of the ALSC President, the matter may be appealed (in writing) to the ALSC Board.