Member Engagement Opportunities

The results of the surveys and member input indicated changes in members’ vision of ideal participation in the association. Members no longer want long-term appointments with no potential end results. Members want to engage in the association for shorter amounts of time doing work that they are passionate about, they have expertise in, and that influences the association. The member engagement opportunities below are intended to provide a variety of options for members to meaningfully engage with the association, helping them to see value in the work of the association and, ultimately, their membership. In addition to engagement through the Board of Directors, standing committees, membership meetings, and leadership assemblies, communities of interest, working groups, and advisory groups are proposed to give a wide range of engagement opportunities.

Communities of Interest

Communities of interest are ALA Connect communities where members can create conversations around newer areas of interest within the profession and the association. Communities of interest may develop enough conversation to identify a need for the creation of an advisory group or may identify necessary actions to create a working group. These communities will be monitored by the Board of Directors to identify emerging issues, trends, and experts. An ALA staff member will be identified to help members create communities of interest in ALA Connect and troubleshoot technical issues. If a community of interest goes inactive for two years, their discussions and documentation will be archived in ALA Connect. Some examples of what a community of interest might focus on include virtual reality or STEM.

Working Groups

Working groups are intended to be time-bound, project-based groups whose work results in an end product such as a toolkit, report on best practices, or an update to ALA materials. Examples of working groups include: the Monetary Library Fines Working Group, the Awards and Scholarships Review Working Group, and the Library Bill of Rights Working Group.

The size of working groups will vary with the task and the actions required. Each working group will have a minimum of five members with a recommended total membership of no more than fifteen members and a convener. Appointments will be made by the Board of Directors in collaboration with the Nominating Committee, the Leadership Development Committee, and the group who recommended the working group if applicable. These appointments will seek members with the appropriate skills and background for the work at hand with room for mentoring and growth of newer members. Appointments will be short-term: initially one year or less with the potential for extension if the work requires.

Advisory Groups

Advisory groups will advise the ALA Board of Directors and relevant standing committees on important, timely issues by monitoring the profession and the association. They will be encouraged to propose working groups to the ALA Board of Directors to complete tasks or projects in relationship to the issues they are advising on and monitoring. The number of advisory groups will be flexible and change over time based upon the needs of the profession and the association. This process may look like the following example:

  1. The Intellectual Freedom Advisory Group works with the Office for Intellectual Freedom to track a new issue, determine its scope, and gather some details.
  2. It is determined that a series of recommendations may need to be made to influence policy and advocacy around a particular area. The Intellectual Freedom Advisory Group then recommends to the Board of Directors the appointment of a working group and the Board of Directors works with the advisory group and the Leadership Development Committee to determine appointments.
  3. The working group them becomes accountable to the Board of Directors, who relies upon the Intellectual Freedom Advisory Group for their expertise and skills in determining the course of action regarding the results of the working group.

Examples of possible topics for advisory groups include intellectual freedom, sustainability at conferences, and professional ethics.

Advisory groups comprise of a chair, chair-elect, and past chair with a three-year commitment, one year in each role, to promote institutional knowledge and appropriate preparation for the role of chair. Members of the advisory groups will be nominated by the Nominating Committee and appointed by the Board of Directors for two-year terms. Advisory group members can serve up to two consecutive two-year terms.

Once Forward Together is approved by ALA members, a reconstitution phase is proposed to get to the new member engagement structure: All ALA and Council committees will have one year to reconstitute as an advisory group, working group, round table, or community of interest. The reconstitution proposals will be submitted to the Board of Directors and require a rationale and proposed outcomes. Existing committees will be encouraged to review their work as it relates to the work of other existing committees and propose merging or rearticulating their goals and purpose where needed. Committees that do not submit a reconstitution proposal during that time will be sunsetted at the end of the reconstitution period.

Additional Engagement Opportunities

The current ALA Committee on Accreditation plays a unique role within the association and structurally does not fit into the proposed member engagement opportunities in Forward Together. Taking into account the unique role and a possible need for restructuring the work of the committee, the Committee on Accreditation will request the establishment of a Committee on Accreditation Working Group by the Executive Board at its Fall 2019 meeting to address issues raised by the committee. This working group will bring an interim report to the Spring 2020 meeting of the Executive Board and the results may be included in the final Forward Together recommendations at the 2020 ALA Annual Conference. SCOE recommends that the Committee also change its name to reflect its unique role and scope of work.

The current Endowment Trustees structure and function does not have any recommended changes.