Friday, March 10, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 5: Committees

Committees is one of my favorite ALA topics. Why? Well ALA truly is a complex organization. I illustrate that by talking about my three favorite Committees: the Committee on Organization (COO), the Committee on Appointments, and the Committee on committees.

I have served for the last two and a half years as the Executive Board liaison to COO. This committee writes the actually charges of all Association-wide committees and reviews and recommends the make up of the committee. It is very detail oriented work, is perceived by many librarians as not very attractive, but is a very powerful governance committee.

The other two I cite above actually have very similar tasks, just for different committees. Committees of the Association are designated as either Council Committees or Association Committees. Members of Council Committees are appointed by the Committee on Committees, and appointments to Association Committees are made by the Committee on Appointments. Both committees are chaired by the President-Elect.

The Committee on Committees is made up of the President-Elect and four Councilors. At each Annual Conference, four Councilors are elected. I have served on this committee, which is an interesting experience. The Council Committees are:

Some of these committees are very highly sought after (International Relations, Intellectual Freedom) while others often have fewer volunteers than open slots. In the year I served, we had to search for folks willing to serve on COO, Policy Monitoring, and some others.

The Committee on Appointments is also Chaired by the President-Elect, but consists of the Presidents-Elect of each of the Divisions. This is one of the ways that the Association assures that there is divisional representation on association-wide committees. The Association Committees are:

Now, you'll notice that the Scholarships and Study Grants Committee does not have a link. That is because that committee was only just established within the past year. (I forget whether it was at Annual 2005 or Midwinter 2006.) It was created to clarify the responsibility for scholarships and separate the "Awards" from the "Scholarships."

Other tidbits about these Committees which I know from my experience:

  • You can only serve on the Nominating committee once, ever, in your ALA career. That can be good or bad. Getting folks to agree to run for ALA office can be a challenge.
  • The Membership Committee is where dues increase proposals originate. That committee also sets the member benefits which are not spelled out in the by-laws. Some see this as a not terribly important committee, but it can be powerful. Membership also runs the committee intern program. I have served on this committee including a term as chair.
  • The Election Committee oversees the ALA election, and members are required to pay their own way to Chicago to do that. Therefore, this committee often has ALA members from the greater Chicago area.
  • Note that many of the committees on this list are advisory to the Offices in the association mentioned in Part 4.
  • Chapter Relations is a great committee to attend the meetings of because everyone who is anyone in ALA appears at one time or another. As a Chapter Councilor, I used to attend as many of these as I could. A large number of the Chapter Councilors do this as well. So you get to hear about the Association issues, as well as talk with colleagues who have similar responsibilities to your own. I have made some great friends through my Chapter experiences at ALA.

Some of my other Exec Board liaison responsibilities are on this list. For two years I was liaison to the HRDR Advisory Committee. I am still liaison to OITP Advisory, Constitution and Bylaws, Membership Meetings, and Research and Statistics.

The last category of committees are the joint committees. These are permitted in the Bylaws (Article VIII, Section 5). Joint committees are of two types: (1) those established between ALA and an outside organization, in which case the ALA Executive Board is the appointing authority (the Board may ask a unit of the Association to name representatives to the joint committee) and (2) those established between a unit of ALA and an outside organization, in which case the appointing authority is the designated unit. The joint committees are:

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