ACRL Communities of Practice – FAQ

  • ACRL MW 13 Doc 8.2 rev

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ACRL Communities of Practice Implementation Task Force

FAQ

January 2013

1. Why has the Task Force developed new operational guidelines for the Communities of Practice?

ACRL faces many of the same operating challenges confronting academic and research libraries. As an

association, ACRL has seen declines in its traditional revenue streams (membership, publications, classified

advertising, professional development), as well as staffing. To varying extents, each type of Community of

Practice requires resources and support from ACRL and from the Board members who serve as liaisons. In

2011 the Board asked the Task Force to build on the work of the 2010 Working Group to identify strategies that

best leverage available resources, while at the same time providing multiple and diverse opportunities for

membership engagement and an effective structure for member-initiated groups to be created, function, and

evolve as the profession and interests evolve.

2. What did the Task Force accomplish prior to Annual Conference 2012?

Task Force members, representing leadership from sections of all sizes and interest groups (Asian, African,

and Middle Eastern Section; Education and Behavioral Sciences Section; Health Sciences Interest Group;

Slavic and Eastern European Studies Section; University Libraries Section) and members of the ACRL

Board, met virtually several times in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012.

We reviewed the recommendations of the 2010 Board Working Group and historical Communities of Practice

data, solicited feedback from the ACRL Executive Committee and the ACRL Board, developed a revised set of

recommendations, and added information about implementation, as charged.

3. What Action was taken at Annual Conference 2012?

At Annual Conference 2012, the agenda for Leadership Council (LC) included a presentation, table

discussions, and written feedback on the Task Force recommendations.

At a subsequent meeting, the ACRL Board reviewed the LC feedback and approved the following Task Force

recommendations:

  • The continuation of Interest Groups (IG) as a Community of Practice
  • A petition with 75 signatures of ACRL members is required to start an Interest Group.
  • A more intentional approach to the Section creation, whereby Sections develop from existing Interest

Group that have maintained a level of at least 400 members for three continuous years.

4. What has the Task Force focused on post-Annual Conference 2012?

SECTIONS: The Board did not take action on a proposed recommendation that a Section whose membership

drops below 400 members for three consecutive years would work with ACRL staff and their Board liaison to

explore and consider transition options. The Board asked the Task Force to gather additional feedback from

the leadership of the smaller sections which would be immediately affected should this recommendation be

approved. Conference calls were scheduled in October 2012 with the leadership of these sections. The

Board subsequently asked the Task Force to revise the FAQ document to include information about Section

transition procedures (see FAQ #6).

INTEREST GROUPS: Initially, the Task Force did not recommend any specific changes to the way in which

Interest Groups are currently governed. However, the Task Force and the Board recognize that IGs may grow

to a point where a more structured operating model is needed to facilitate member engagement and

administrative effectiveness. In light of this concern, the Board asked the Task Force to consider whether or

not transition thresholds for Interest Groups should be required. Interest Group leaders were surveyed in

response to the Board’s request, in December 2012.

The results of the survey (51% response rate) indicate strong support for additional governance procedures

and ACRL support for larger IGs:

  • 53% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that two conveners are sufficient to effectively

provide leadership of an IG of any size. 27% were neutral and 20% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

  • 3% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that IGs with more than 400 members need more

extensive governance procedures to maintain effectiveness. 27% were neutral.

  • 80% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that IGs with more than 400 members need

additional support to achieve their outcomes. The remaining 20% were neutral on this question.

  • 67% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that when an IG’s membership exceeds 400

members for at least 3 years, transitioning to a section is the best option. The remaining 33% were

neutral on this question.

The Board will have a virtual discussion regarding these matters after Midwinter 2013, prior to taking a virtual

vote on the recommendation before Annual Conference 2013.

5. If the Board approves the recommendation that a Section whose membership drops below 400

members for three consecutive years would work with ACRL staff and their Board liaison to explore

and consider transition options, what transition options will be available to the Section?

Options that a Section might consider include:

  • Merging with another section to form a larger Section
  • Becoming a Discussion Group within another Section
  • Becoming a Standing Committee within another Section
  • Becoming an Interest Group
  • Becoming a Division-Level Discussion Group
  • Dissolving the Section if no transition option is desired

6. How does a Section transition to another Community of Practice?

One of following processes would be implemented dependent on the option selected:

Merging with another ACRL section

Step 1: If section membership is below 400 at the end of Year 3 (August), the Section submits a Board

Action form in December of Year 4 notifying the Board of the intent to merge with another section(s).

This document would be included as an item on the MW Board agenda.

Step 2: The sections involved in the merger would submit a joint Board of Directors Action Form to

Establish a Section along with a Petition for Establishing a Section (ALA e-petition) signed by 2/3 or 400

members of each section’s membership, whichever is less, for approval at the Annual Conference Board

meeting in Year 4. Note: With the ALA e-petition system, a link to the survey could be posted widely on

ACRL discussion lists, etc. If approved by the Board, the new section would become effective on

September 1 in Year 5. The action form would include the proposed name, proposed charge, proposed

leadership procedures, proposed committee structure, and proposed initiatives and projects.

Becoming a discussion group or standing committee within another ACRL section

Step 1: If section membership is below 400 at the end of Year 3 (August), the Section would submit a Board Action form in December of Year 4 notifying the Board of its intent to become a discussion group or committee within another section(s). This document would be included as an item on the MW Board agenda.

Step 2: The section submits a Board of Directors Action Form requesting dissolution at the Annual

Conference Board meeting in Year 4. If approved by the Board, the section would be disbanded as of

August 31 in Year 4.

Becoming an Interest Group

Step 1: If section membership is below 400 at the end of Year 3 (August), the Section submits a Board

Action form in December of Year 4 notifying the Board of its intent to become an Interest Group. This

document would be included as an item on the MW Board agenda.

Step 2: The section would submit a Board of Directors Action Form to Establish an Interest Group

along with a Petition for Establishing an Interest Group (ALA e-petition) for approval at the Annual

Conference Board meeting in Year 4. If approved by the Board, the new Interest Group would become

effective on September 1 in Year 5. Sections that have been in existence for at least 10 years as of

August 2012 would be exempt from the requirement to petition for IG continuance every 3 years.

Becoming a Discussion Group

Step 1: If section membership is below 400 at the end of Year 3 (August), the Section submits a Board

Action form in December of Year 4 notifying the Board of its intent to become a Discussion Group. This

document would be included as an item on the MW Board agenda.

Step 2: The section will submit a Board of Directors Action Form to Establish a Discussion Group along

with a Petition for Establishing a Discussion Group (ALA e-petition) for approval at the Annual

Conference Board meeting in Year 4. If approved by the Board, the new Discussion Group would

become effective on September 1 in Year 5.

Dissolution of a Section

If no transition is selected the section will dissolve at the end of Year 4.

7. What is the process for Interest Group continuance?

Interest Groups reach a sunset date every three years. An Interest Group may request to be dissolved, may

request to be renewed with the same charge, or may propose a replacement group with a different name and

charge. Requests for all actions must be submitted to the ACRL Board in time to be approved at the Annual

Conference. If the Interest Group takes none of these actions, the Interest Group will automatically dissolve

after the Annual Conference following the Interest Group’s third year anniversary. An Interest Group can

petition the Board to disband at any time before the three-year sunset date.

8. How does an Interest Group transition to a Section?

An Interest Group maintaining a membership of 400+ for three continuous years is eligible to submit a Petition

for Establishing a Section (ALA e-petition) with signatures of 2/3 of the IG’s membership, or 400 member

signatures, whichever is less. Note: With the ALA e-petition system, a link to the survey could be posted

widely on ACRL discussion lists, etc. The IG would also submit a Board Action Form to Establish a Section in

time for consideration at the Board meeting at the ALA Annual Conference. The Board Action Form to

Establish a Section requires the following information:

  • A charge for the Section
  • Statement describing how the Section will support ACRL’s Strategic Plan
  • Process for developing a slate for elected leadership positions
  • Identification of an initial standing committee structure
  • Proposed initiatives and projects

If approved by the Board, the Interest Group would become a Section on September 1 of the next fiscal year.

9. Will an Interest Group that maintains a membership of 400+ members for three continuous years be

required to transition to a Section?

No, but the IG would be eligible to transition to a Section. Interest Groups that are not successful in securing

the necessary 2/3 signatures to transition may desire more infrastructure until such time as they secure

enough votes to become a Section. A suggested alternative leadership structure might involve an Advisory

Board made up of the Past Convener, Convener, and Incoming Convener.

Revised 1/10/13