Guidelines for Electronic Communication

1. Access issues.

A considerable amount of routine committee communication can be handled electronically if all members have convenient access to email. Before and/or during the Midwinter meeting, committee chairs should gather the following information:

  • Preferred email addresses of all members.
  • Software information: i.e., word processing programs in use, capability for "attachments," etc.
  • How often members check their email.

If one or more members do NOT have convenient access to email, it will be necessary to use alternate means of communication so that no one member is excluded from full participation in committee business.

2. Protocols.

2.1. All committee business should be clearly identifiable on the subject line; i.e., conference or massmedia.2000 program.

2.2. If messages require a response, the sender should indicate a response deadline. All members should acknowledge receipt of the message to the sender, whether or not they have a substantive response.

2.3. If the message requests discussion of an issue, each respondent should reply to all members of the committee.

2.4. Committee members are expected to participate in electronic discussions, just as they would participate in discussions at conference meetings.

2.5. The chair should copy the priority consultant on all relevant correspondence.

3. Record-keeping

3.1. Routine correspondence between conferences does not need to be saved. The chair should keep a record of any decisions made, however, and report to ALSC headquarters with the appropriate conference report.

3.2. Where appropriate, committees may establish an electronic archive for their records.

4. Privacy and confidentiality issues.

4.1. Committees with "sensitive" business such as awards, should be aware of the increased possibility of inadvertent leaks with electronic communications media. Committee members should decide what kinds of information it is safe to transmit electronically and limit their communications accordingly.

4.2. Personal information about individuals (addresses, phone numbers, etc.) should not be posted on websites unless they are protected from general public access by secure passwords.

5. Use of electronic discussion lists.

5.1. Committees are encouraged to use the ALSC electronic discussion list to communicate with membership at large about their activities and to generate discussion about relevant issues. Agendas should be posted 4 weeks in advance of conference.

5.2. Committees with the capability of establishing electronic discussion lists may choose to conduct their committee business through a dedicated discussion list.

5.3. The ALSC electronic discussion list should not be used for the transmittal of routine information intended for members of a particular committee.

6. Virtual committees.

6.1. ALSC may determine that some committees can conduct their business entirely online and designate these as virtual committees.

6.2. All members of virtual committees must have convenient access to email.

6.3. It is recommended that the chair of virtual committees attend midwinter and annual conference in order to participate in the division leadership meeting and to conduct other business.

6.4. It is particularly important that all members of virtual committees participate fully in electronic discussion of committee business.

6.5. In order to facilitate input from members at large about committee business, virtual committees are required to announce their electronic agendas on ALA Connect well in advance of decision deadlines and solicit comments from the membership.

7. Virtual participation on traditional committees.

7.1. The ALSC vice-president/president-elect, president, or a committee chair may determine that one or more members of an appropriate committee may be designated virtual members. Virtual members participate in all business of the committee but are not required to attend conference meetings.

7.2. It is recommended that no more and 25 % of any committee be virtual members.

7.3. Care should be taken that virtual committee members are allowed to participate in all business of the committee, including discussions and voting. It is recommended that each virtual member be paired with a buddy who attends conferences and takes responsibility for ensuring the virtual member's inclusion. In some cases, it may be necessary to arrange electronic or telephone communication during conference in order to gather input or votes from the virtual member.

Adopted by the ALSC Board, January 18, 2000, revised January 2012.