Chapter 9: Governance

Back to Guide to Policies & Procedures

RUSA Bylaws

The Reference and User Services Association is a “type-of-activity” division of the American Library Association. RUSA and its sections and interest groups are governed by the RUSA Bylaws and the ALA Bylaws

RUSA Board   

RUSA Board is the deliberative and decision-making body of RUSA.  It sets the policies of the division and the program for the division in relationship to the goals and objectives identified by its membership and by ALA, and in context of the RUSA Strategic Plan. It is also the body to which division level committees, sections, and interest groups ultimately report. Board members are responsible for the affairs of RUSA. RUSA Board consists of voting and non-voting members and are defined in the RUSA bylaws.  

Duties of the Board

  • The board sets policy and the staff implements it and carries it out.
  • The board establishes goals that are related to RUSA’s priorities and shapes a strategy for the future. The board also establishes objectives that are related to the goals. Objectives should be specific, measurable, active, relevant and timed.
  • The board approves the budget to support the goals/objectives of RUSA.
  • The board monitors policy implementation and achievement of the goals/objectives.

Ground Rules and Agendas

  • A meeting notice is sent to the Board and made public to the membership by the Executive Director10 days in advance of a Board meeting. The president will also call for agenda items.
  • Action items needing Board approval must be submitted to the president on the RUSA Board of Directors Action Item Form up to 24 hours prior to the meeting.
  • Reports, action item forms, and documents for the Board will be posted publicly in Connect prior to the meeting.
  • The President in consultation with the executive director will set the agenda.
  • The agenda is a “consent agenda” for consensus and non-controversial items and will consist of the following sections:
    • approval of minutes if not approved between meetings
    • reports from the president, vice-president and executive director
    • a "new business/action item" section for board actions and votes, and for discussion of new business. This section assumes that the most important organizational business comes first. Individuals bringing items to the board must make sure that all appropriate RUSA groups have had an opportunity to review the proposal prior to the board discussion
    • a “discussion/announcements" section to bring to the board specific issues, questions or announcements, and to provide discussion time on the agenda for exploring important matters of substance or process.
  • All agendas will be rolling agendas.

Rights and Responsibilities

  • Board Members follow the RUSA Cultural Norms which are reviewed and affirmed by the Board annually. 
  • Clarification of board documents should be requested prior to the meeting.  
  • Agenda items may be pulled from the consent agenda for any reason and at any time.
  • Board members will arrive informed and prepared or so inform the chair before the meeting.
  • Members are expected to be engaged, asking questions and posing solutions.  
  • Board members are expected to be courteous and respectful to one another’s ideas and opinions.
  • Board members acknowledge that silence is consent.


In-Meeting Voting

The Board makes its decisions through the voting process. At Board meetings, a majority vote rules. During meetings, Board members indicate their vote by raising their hand and/or by saying "aye", "no", or "abstain" as requested by the chair. The chair notes the outcome of a vote orally, i.e., saying, "the vote passes," "the vote is unanimous’, "the vote fails." The chair may report the "ayes" and "nays".

Online voting 

  • Online votes of the Board of Directors may be taken provided they are authorized by the officers of the Association.
  • All voting Board members are canvassed simultaneously.
  • For votes by the Board of Directors, three-fourths of the voting membership of the Board of Directors shall constitute a quorum, and a three-fourths majority of those voting shall be required to carry.
  • On each online vote, each voting Board member shall have the option of:
    • Vote for the motion
    • Vote against the motion
    • To abstain
    • To hold for discussion at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
  • The voting window shall be 7 calendar days.
  • Actions shall be confirmed at the next regular meeting of the Board.
  • Voting will take place on an electronic system such as Survey Monkey or Doodle or ALA Connect.

RUSA Leadership Council

RUSA Leadership Council (RLC) advises, in a non-voting capacity, the RUSA Board on RUSA goals, objectives, priorities, and budget. The purpose of the Leadership Council is to unify the RUSA leadership, improve communication throughout the division, reduce duplication of effort, and align goals of units within RUSA with the overall strategic plan. 

Duties and Responsibilities of the RLC

  • Advise and provide feedback to the RUSA Board on the activities, priorities, policies and budget of the association through meetings and ALA Connect 
  • Suggest the creation of task forces as needed to address division or professional needs
  • Communicate needs, concerns, solutions and ideas promptly and collegially

Members of the RLC are:

  • RUSA Board
  • Division Level Committee Chairs
  • Division Coordinators
  • Section Chairs
  • Interest Group Chairs
  • RUSQ, RUSA Update, and editors
  • RUSA Liaisons
  • Active Task Force chairs
  • All RUSA office staff

Ground Rules and Agendas 

  • The ground rules for meetings and the rights and responsibilities of the RUSA Leadership Council are the same as the RUSA Board.  
  • The RUSA Past-President is the RLC convener. 
  • Agendas are set by the RUSA Past-President in coordination of RUSA Officers and RUSA Executive Director. 
  • A meeting notice including a call for agenda items is sent to RLC and made public to the membership by the Executive Director ten days in advance of a RLC meeting. 
  • To request agenda items, please contact the RUSA Executive Director five business days prior to the meeting. 

RUSA Executive Team 

The RUSA Executive Team, composed of the RUSA officers and Executive Director, meet regularly  to support the operations of the association. Activities  include agenda planning and monitoring ongoing projects and initiatives. They are empowered to create position statements on behalf of the association. 

RUSA Elected Leaders (additional information can be found in the Orientation Manual).



  • serves as an officer of RUSA
  • presides over the RUSA Board of Directors
  • provides training and information to Board members and section chairs
  • writes reports and articles (such as President’s Column for RUSQ, RUSA Board, ALA Council, and other publications as requested or assigned)
  • ensures that the Bylaws are observed by the officers and members of the Board of Directors and that the decisions of the Board of Directors are carried out
  • assumes other responsibilities as designated in the Bylaws.


  • serves as an officer of RUSA
  • serves as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors
  • assists in planning the programs and projects RUSA will pursue during year as president
  • makes appointments to divisional committees and task forces for terms beginning during year as president and remind chairs of any automatic appointments to liaison committees
  • plans the RUSA conference program for year as president
  • provides training and information to RUSA leaders
  • performs the duties of the president in the absence of the president
  • assumes other responsibilities as designated in the Bylaws.
  • represents RUSA on the following ALA committees
    • ALA Appointments Committee
    • ALA Planning and Budget Assembly and all other ALA budget related meetings/groups

Immediate Past-President

  • serves as an officer of RUSA
  • serves as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors
  • serves as an advisor to the president and the Board of Directors
  • Serves as convener of the RUSA Leadership Council meetings

Past-Past President

  • serves as chair of RUSA Nominating Committee

Division Councilor

  • serves as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors
  • presents to the Board ALA issues and council documents upon which the Board may wish to take action
  • represents RUSA's interests on ALA Council through statements concerning RUSA's position and/or by sponsoring resolutions as requested by the Board
  • reports the results of Council action on appropriate issues at the subsequent Board meetings or in writing to the Board
  • serves as Board liaison to RUSA’s Access to Information Committee


  • serves as a member of the RUSA Board of Directors
  • takes notes at all relevant meetings

(RUSA Past-President in charge of updating this page) Rev. 04/202