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Jill Vassilakos-Long's picture

Virtual MidWinter

Hello Everyone,

It is no secret that Nominating has been having difficulties filling the slate. The most common reason for refusal (by a wide margin) has been that institutions are no longer funding two conferences a year. 

I received this message from another ALA unit a few days ago:


The Instruction Section is looking for volunteers to serve as committee members and interns.  You can see a list of all Instruction Committees at: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/about/sections/is/committees/commiteecharges.cfm.  Please choose several committees that would be of interest, then submit the Committee Volunteer form (http://www.ala.org/template.cfm?template=//cfapps/committee/volunteerform/volunteerform2.cfm&group1=acrl) by Tuesday, February 15.

Committee members are expected to attend meetings at ALA Annual Conference (Midwinter conference is now a virtual conference for all IS committees, so attendance is optional).  Alternatively, you can volunteer to serve as a virtual member; virtual members participate fully in the work of the committee online and via telephone but are not expected to attend in-person meetings at conferences.  You may indicate your preference to serve as a virtual member on the Committee Volunteer Form.

The Instruction Section also seeks interns to serve on all IS committees.  Volunteering to serve as an intern is a great way to start getting involved with the Instruction Section.  Interns participate fully in the work of the committee, and also have the following responsibilities:

  • Take minutes of committee meetings and submit to committee chair and other committee members for review and approval.
  • Submit final approved minutes to the IS Secretary.
  • Update the committee web page with content from the committee chair.
  • Participate in other assignments with the committee.


Interns are expected to attend committee meetings at ALA Annual conference.  To volunteer to serve as an intern, please complete the Committee Volunteer Form, and also send an email to me directly (michel@up.edu) to express your interest in serving as an intern.


Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about serving on an IS committee.  I look forward to hearing from you!


Stephanie Michel

ACRL IS Vice-Chair, 2010-2011


This message struck me, because I believe that the Nominating committee is the canary in the coal mine. I think that we have passed the point where many members cannot attend two meetings a year and that we have failed to make clear provision for members who wish to be involved but do not have the disposable income or the institutional support to come to two conferences a year.

I believe that we need to create a way to have at least some of our MidWinter meeting virtually. I proposed one model for Task Forces. (A meeting via Connect a week prior to conference, with people in the group being deputized to move proposals forward at the Business Meeting at the physical conference) but if that is unworkable, or if it is deemed to fall short of what is needed, I think that we should come up with some plan to make virtual participation, not just an option (which would always be treated as a secondary option) but as the norm for most of the MidWinter meeting.


Jill Vassilakos-Long



Stephen Hayes's picture

I understand the issues Nominations is having. I think the time HAS come for some experiment with a virtual meeting. I would ask the following questions:

  1. What is the Committee without a slate of leaders tasked with accomplishing? e.g. plan the Annual conference program
  2. Can this be accomplished virtually? If no, stop.. must meet at midwinter if that is where the task is accomplished. If yes, move on to 3.
  3. What are the measures of success?
    • program was planned by x date.
    • speakers all showed up at the annual program
    • room was selected, configured and meet the needs
    • program was held as planned
    • Debriefing of this virtual mid-winter process - did the lack of a meeting at midwinter negatively or prevent the task from being accomplished.
  4. Review of the process and were expectations met.


I suggest of those office that cannot be filled due to the reasons Jill has articulated., we identify a couple of test cases, craft SPECIFIC EXPECTATIONS and try it. Making the appointment knowing full well only an Annual meeting of that officer will take place.



  • GODORT doesn't like to be specific in expectations
  • We are not good at crafting measures of success.
  • Perennial questions.. who is going to actually do this preliminary work? Nominations, Chair, Steering, ...

Of Course we could take the opposite approach. If noone runs, then the group, while having a schedule slot at annual and/or midwinter may or may not meet and have a spontaneous leader. Hard fact, if no one can chair... than perhaps the life of that group is at an end. or an alternative leadership process will emerge.


P. S. Thanks to Nominations for their hard work to date.

Andrea Sevetson's picture

Happy Saturday - 

I think it would be good to review the size of committees (both appointed and elected) as part of this.  I know Geoff has had problems in filling the appointed slots, and he isn't the first one.  Several of the appointed committees were up-sized in the late 90s and this may be a good time to review these and make changes. 

After ALA MW I reviewed the PPM and realized that I could make the changes to make the Awards Committee virtual at MW, however committee members DO need to attend annual as that is where the Awards are given out.  The members attending Annual also gives us the opportunity to discuss any issues that need guidance or resolution for the next years committee.  

What I did...  I put the language in place so that each year the committee chould decide whether or not it would meet at MW.  Committee members are supposed to contact the chair to let the chair know, ASAP if they will be attending MW so they know how the committee will meet (in person or via conference call).   It's not cast in stone - it depends on the committee.  I also put in language to let members know that they DO need to attend the annual conference.  Every year.  That is not optional. 

As you each continue through your year as chair, I would urge you to consider ways to make the activity level explicit for the next few years for your committee.  Then the nominating committee will have some guidance for recruiting for each position, and the forthcoming committee chairs will also have some guidance about the possibilities for their committee.  I think often times we aren't willing to make the changes because we haven't previously been in the role of chair for a particular committee.  If we each start laying the groundwork, it will be easier for those to come.