Chapter 1: Committees

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RUSA division level committees have several different purposes:

  • some interact directly with the sections;
  • some manage the work of RUSA;
  • and some have specific tasks to administer division-wide.

All of the committees that affect the operations of RUSA (such as Access to Information, Conference Program Coordinating, Member Engagement, Professional Development, and Professional Resources) have representatives appointed by each section or members representing sections, but selected by the vice-president, to ensure that decisions and plans are carried out with the input of all the RUSA sections. It is critical, to the effective running of RUSA, that all section representatives and committee members attend RUSA committee meetings, play an active role on the committees, and relay information back and forth between the committees and the sections.

RUSA Appointments to ALA Level Committees:

RUSA has the opportunity, via the RUSA Vice-President, to suggest appointments to the ALA Vice-President for possible appointment to an ALA committee. This process, established by the ALA Vice-President, takes place in early fall. While members have no direct duties to the Division because of their appointment, it is a courtesy to submit a yearly informal report on the work of the committee to which they were appointed and to highlight in the report any items of interest to RUSA and its membership. (These appointments to ALA level committees are not to be confused with RUSA liaison appointments to ALA committees.) (See also chapter: “RUSA Representatives to the wider ALA Community.”)

Joint Committees

  1. The Board may establish joint committees, either standing or special, within RUSA when the functions of the proposed committee cannot be appropriately delegated to a single section or existing RUSA committee.
  2. RUSA follows ALA bylaws as established in Article VIII, Section 5 for joint committees outside of RUSA.

Guidelines for RUSA Level Committees

Committee reports, minutes:

Within two weeks of a committee meeting, chairs should submit a Meeting Highlights form with a brief summary of the discussion and actions taken. When minutes of the meeting are available, send a copy to the RUSA office.

Suggestions for effective meetings:

When the committee agenda is a full one, time is limited, and/or there are observers who wish to participate in the committee's deliberations, Chairs may do one or more of the following:

  • Allow discussion time during the last portion of scheduled meeting time.
  • To keep business moving in meetings larger than an informal, small group, require all who wish to speak to address the chair. Rule out of order any who do not.
  • Limit the input of observers, if necessary, to ensure that all committee members have the opportunity to speak and that the agenda is not abrogated.
  • Avoid formal motions for procedural or non-controversial matters. Use such formulas as: "If there is no objection, (pause) . . .".
  • For approving Minutes, use: "Are there any corrections? (pause) If not, they stand approved as distributed."
  • For adjournment, use: "Is there any further business? (pause) The meeting is adjourned."

Norms for meetings:

  • actively participate
  • set goals for the meeting
  • take responsibility for outcomes
  • share in the facilitation of the meeting
  • have fun
  • keep comments within the scope of the group
  • speak up before the group if you have an issue
  • be respectful of others' ideas and approaches
  • start and end on time
  • bring all group members into the discussion
  • state something positive before you criticize
  • be mindful of your time 'on stage'
  • share the workload.

Source: ALA ad hoc Training Task Force, January, 1996

Interns on committees:

Internships help introduce new members to RUSA committees. Interns are RUSA members who have never served on a RUSA committee. The internship is an extra membership slot not counted in the number of members in the committee's descriptive statement. Each intern shall serve for a period of one year and may not be re-appointed as a committee intern. The one-year service as an intern is not to be included in the four year maximum of committee service. Interns shall participate fully in the work of the committees to which they are assigned. Voting privileges shall be extended to interns on equal terms with regular members. Source: RASD Board, June, 1969; amended January, 1976; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006


An individual may be appointed for a one-year term as a consultant if he or she is not eligible for appointment as a member but his or her expertise is required for the completion of a committee project. A consultant is generally an individual who has completed four years on a particular committee and has been strongly involved in an ongoing project. A one-year appointment as a consultant can help with continuity. A consultant is not counted in the number of members in the committee's descriptive statement, and is not a voting member on the committee.

Establishment of committees:

Members of RUSA who wish to form a new committee should prepare a descriptive statement following this format:

  • establishment (date and brief facts, if pertinent)
  • purpose (why the committee exists) and charge
  • composition (number of members and special characteristics, if any)
  • terms of office (if not according to RUSA Bylaws, describe special conditions)
  • specific duties (what the committee will do to justify its existence)
  • policies (if any)
  • draft charter (outlining the duties and mission of the committee)

The descriptive statement for division-level committees will be submitted to the RUSA Board for approval and action. Section-level committees are approved by the section executive committee and a copy of the descriptive statement for the new committee is sent to the RUSA office.

Appointment policies

No person shall concurrently serve in more than three separate positions. Governing board, committee, liaison, subcommittee, and other responsibilities that require service in another position (e.g., service on a committee that entails assembly representation) are not in conflict with this policy. Source: ALA Policy 4.4 Members of all ALA and unit committees are expected to attend all meetings that are held virtually. For meetings held in person, committee members may attend virtually if necessary.  Failure to attend meetings routinely without an explanation acceptable to the committee chair constitutes grounds for removal.Request for removal is made by the chair to the appropriate appointing official or governing board for approval. All committee members are expected to take part in the work of the committee as outlined under "Duties of Committee Members," below. Source: ALA Policy 4.5

Appointments process:

The vice-president/president-elect appoints:

  • members of RUSA-level committees who will serve during the vice president’s term as president.
  • the chair for all RUSA standing committees for one year matching his or her term of office.  
  • RUSA standing committee members, as needed, if a committee member’s term of service expires at the start of the vice-president/president-elects term as president.

RUSA Bylaws state that appointments to standing committees are usually for terms of two years. However, appointments can be made for one, two, three, or four years (with the exception of committee chairs and RUSA representatives to ALA committees, both of which must be one year appointment) where there is a compelling need (e.g., to fix turnover issues on a committee or establish continuity for a new committee). Reappointment is possible but "in no case shall a person serve on a committee for more than four consecutive years." (RUSA Bylaws) Once an appointment is made and accepted, it cannot be undone by the next RUSA Vice-President, unless the current chair of the committee requests the removal of a member for lack of participation or other performance-based reason. Chairs serve for one year and may be reappointed. (Note: Members of awards committees serve a two-year term and may not be reappointed.) Terms begin immediately after the Annual Conference unless a different date appears on the appointment acceptance form. Terms on many award committees such as the Notable Books Council and Reference Sources Committee begin immediately after the Midwinter Meeting.

Resolutions, Surveys and Questionnaires:


Any resolution prepared by any unit of the division, any committee or other organization of which RUSA is a joint member, or any ALA unit or committee assigned to the division must be submitted to the RUSA Board of Directors for its approval. Source: RASD Board, January, 1976; reaffirmed by RUSA Executive Committee, October, 2006

Surveys & Questionnaires:

Consult the RUSA office. Many questionnaires and surveys are sent out from various ALA units each year, and possible respondents will be happier if duplication can be avoided. The RUSA staff will submit drafts of proposed survey instruments to the ALA office for Research and Statistics for review and recommendations.

(RUSA Office is in charge of updating) Rev. 08/2018