Round Tables

As issue-based and identity-based groups, round tables have provided an important home for members that crosses the many intersections of their lives. The twenty-one round tables are often the home for newer and emerging issues within the association, raising important and unique concerns and focus on different types of library work, experiences of library workers, and experiences of library users. Over the last several years, round tables have experienced increased membership growth and the creation of new round tables, indicating an importance to the association and value to members.

Round tables will be encouraged to recommend advisory groups and working groups to the Board of Directors to help accomplish their work and bring action and influence around important issues. They will have a direct line of communication and influence with the Board of Directors through the Round Table Leadership Assembly and will be looked to for their expertise and advice around issues important to them. An important note of the Round Table Leadership Assembly is the inclusion of all round tables, regardless of membership size, to have full participation in the assembly.

Efficiency recommendations are provided below to help the round tables focus on the important work of their members. By freeing up ALA staff time from administrative work, staff can help members accomplish their goals for the round table and focus more attention on mission-based tasks. The Round Table Effectiveness Committee, a collaborative effort of several round tables, will begin work in November to determine best and efficient practices for round tables.

These recommendations, some of which are already being discussed by the Round Table Effectiveness Committee identified above include the following:

  • Post all future documents in ALA Connect to help share institutional knowledge and give member access to as much information as possible. In addition to improving efficiency, this will help members identify what a round table is about and what they do, making it clear how a new member can participate.
  • Administer all necessary elections through ALA Connect.
  • Replace individual round table bylaws and create a shared policies and procedures document. This will help identify the relationship and fiscal responsibility of round tables with members and leaders, helping them understand the symbiotic relationship between round tables and all of ALA.
  • Work with the Membership Office and Membership Committee to align dues and dues structures across ALA so that discounted rate opportunities for special categories are consistent across the association. It is recommended to explore the rate of $20 for each round table from the preliminary fiscal analysis models. This would have the least fiscal impact overall and is only a recommendation for the Membership Office and Committee to further explore and test this model.
  • Increase the minimum number of dues-paying members needed to create a round table to one percent of ALA’s membership unless identified as a strategic priority by the Board of Directors. Membership numbers will be revisited and averaged over a period of three years. Current round tables will be able to remain intact for the first three years to provide them the opportunity to grow their membership. This will provide round tables with more fiscal stability and the resources to accomplish their mission-driven goals.