Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 3: Round Tables

ALA has seventeen Round Tables [This ALA page has links to all the Round Tables]. These are much less formally structured than the Divisions. Round Tables charge dues, but they are usually much more modest than Division dues. To start a round table, you need just 100 members. Unlike the divisions, Round Tables have no staff and no authority to speak on behalf of the organization. However, each Round Table does have an official staff liaison -- a paid staff person who helps move round table issues through the ALA processes.

The seventeen Round Tables are:
  • Continuing Library Education Network and Exchange (CLENERT)
  • Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange (EMIERT)
  • Exhibits (ERT)
  • Federal and Armed Forces Libraries (FAFLRT)
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBTRT)
  • Government Documents (GODORT)
  • Intellectual Freedom (IFRT)
  • International Relations (IRRT)
  • Library History (LHRT)
  • Library Instruction (LIRT)
  • Library Research (LRRT)
  • Library Support Staff Interests (LSSIRT)
  • Map and Geography (MAGERT)
  • New Members (NMRT)
  • Social Responsibilities (SRRT)
  • Staff Organizations (SORT)
  • Video (VRT)
Round Tables are a great way to get involved in the organization. For folks who are new, the best one is the New Members Round Table. NMRT has a structure which gives folks a taste for the organization and is often a launching pad to ALA involvement.

Round Tables are often smaller than divisions, and are a great way to get to know folks in the Association.

Currently the five largest Round Tables elect a representative to ALA Council. The remaining Round Tables elect an additional Councilor whose job it is to represent the twelve smaller Round Tables. On the ALA Ballot this spring is a question which would change the By-laws to add Round Table Councilors for those Round Tables which have a membership greater than 1% of the ALA personal membership. Current estimates are that this would add five more Councilors, and result in the "small Round Table Councilor" having to represent only six or seven Round Tables.

I've not been very active in Round Tables, but I was in GODORT for a while, and know that they publish a wonderful newsletter called Documents to the People which helps government documents librarians a great deal.

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