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Mike Kelly's picture

Virtual meetings and virtual memberships

Executive Committee Meeting agenda item 7.1 (under Old Business) is another look at the topic of Virtual Meetings. It has been suggested that the chair establish a Task Force to explore the options and guidelines for virtual memberships and virtual committees.


The official ACRL guidelines on Virtual Meetings can be found here:


During the ACRL Communities of Practice Assembly virtual meeting on Jan. 13, there was a discussion of virtual and "hybrid" meetings. The notes from that discussion follow:

Hybrid and Virtual Meetings


  • Does anyone have experience with "hybrid" meetings at the conferences? That is to say, some folks meet f2f in the hotel conference room and others participate virtually. Does ALA/ACRL have a policy on such meetings?
  • We've been told that hybrid meetings are not supported by ALA.
  • Not technically supported, certainly. But allowed? Encouraged?
  • ALA has a policy somewhere that they don't support simultaneous "hybrid" in person/online meetings. The issue is the cost of providing internet connections at conference (and the uncertainty of availability of connections).
  • LPSS, in fact, both of the in-person meetings in Dallas, are actually hybrid meetings.
  • Personal members paid for one-day wireless Internet access at the hotel.
  • STS has investigated that but one obstacle is that setting up an Internet connection for the virtual portion is really prohibitive in many cases, so we haven't moved in that direction.
  • We've been told that requesting an internet connection for a meeting could cost $1,000 (for just one meeting). So we've been discouraged from requesting one, and we don't generally know very far in advance if we'd be in a location with wifi (such as many convention centers).
  • ANSS is going to experiment at Midwinter with setting up a member-owned Clear mobile hotspot in the conference room. Supposedly, up to 15 gadgets can connect to this.
  • This is an issue where sharing among COPA members is very powerful for future actions.
  • ALA/ACRL does need to explore and possibly find a solution for this. It seems fewer people are going to Midwinter this year.

Virtual meetings

  • Someday, ALA will need to face facts and eliminate Midwinter. However, for the moment, it remains a cash cow because of the vendors. Maybe we should start voting with our cyber-feet.
  • Midwinter is just unsustainable for many librarians now, with vanishing travel budgets.
  • Should COPA shares its concern about how best to conduct virtual meetings and urges ACRL to focus on that as an alternative to face to face? Although, duly noted that it may not be in their best financial interests at present to do so!
  • Megan Griffin will be reading our meeting notes and she may clarify some points about this for us.
  • The ALA (or ACRL?) white paper that came out 12-24 months ago that seemed more interested in explaining why it was important to keep Midwinter, rather than evaluating why we no longer needed it.
  • That white paper seemed to miss the whole issue of why librarians are not going to conference, and it refused to look at creative solutions to the problem.
  • Certainly most other professional organizations manage to meet once a year.
  • White paper at http://connect.ala.org/files/4161/ebd_12_17_white_paper_on_the_ala_midwi...