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James Rettig's picture

Follow-up to COO action at 2013 Annuakl Conference

COO members,

Attached is a discussion document plus a lot of background documents.  Some of you have seen the background documents in the past.

Please read the discussion document and share your ideas here.  I hope you won't wait until the Midwinter Meeting.  I will not know, probably until about January 17 (or later), if I have permission to come to MW.  Believe it or not, the ultimate decision on that is made by a nameless functionary in the Pentagon!

I am also going to share this with the ALA Council today.  I will share with COO comments that come from the Council listserv.

James Rettig's picture

I neglected to include the document that records recent history of committees' reporting behavior.  I have attached it to this comment.

Jim Rettig

Retired Academic Library Administrator

Happily living in Williamsburg, Virgina


Teri Switzer's picture

Jim et al,

First, thank you for sending all this info out, Jim. Second, below I am providing my thoughts on what is before us because I am unable to attend the COO meetings at MW Philly due to a conflict with another committee meeting (ALA Nominations) and my need to leave on Sunday and tend to some family matters.  I will be at our meetings in "Lost Wages", however, and I doubt that this topic will have been settled by then :-)

My thoughts on the Committee Reports:

  • I am pleased that Council voted to retire the CIU form.  If, however, the frequency of reports comes up again, I would recommend that only one report/committee appointment year be required, with the report due in July.
  • I am all for a sunsetting policy and suggest that any committee that does not submit a report two years in a row be considered for sunsetting. COO would recommend to Council those Council Committees that have not submitted the requisite reports and Council then votes on the demise.  COO would recommend to the ALA Executive Board ( or should this also be to Council), ALA committees that have not submitted the reports and the Board determines the Committee's demise or not.   If a committee is important enough to continue to exist then there should be work product, whether than product was accomplished during in person meetings or virtually. 
  • I would be interested in what others have to say about requiring committees to apply for renewal.  Some committees, such as legislation, intellectual freedom, nominating, and BARC most likely will always have work to do - and it is these committee, interestingly, that consistently submit reports.  And making them renew their existence may not be the best use of members' and ALA liaisons' time.  If some committees are not required to apply for renewal, there would exist a double standard for committees, which may not be a good thing.
  • OTHER THOUGHTS:  Why has the Diversity Committee not submitted a report 3 times running?  They meet and they, as a whole with their sub-committees, have work product.  Same thing with Library Advocacy and Awards.  I know, I have been involved wit these committees the past few years.  So I say 100 lashes with an al dente noodle to those chairs and liaisons!  And this then brings up who should be responsible.  Being chair of a committee is not for the weak and it should be clearly articulated to the chairs that this is a requirement. That is always mentioned at the chair orientation TOLD holds but evidently needs to be stated more than once.   ALA liaisons are ever bit as busy, if not busier, than many committee chairs.  However, perhaps this should be an important part of their liaison assignment - make sure the committee report is submitted.  In some cases I think the ALA Liaison works in the division where the committee "sits."  Seems that person should have a real vested interest in ensuring the report is submitted. 
  • We can create policies all we want but it is going to take COO/Council/Executive Board to put the teeth into them.

That's it from me.  I wish I was able to join you all in this discussion.  Thanks, Jim, for being such a great chair and shepherding this effort! 

Teri S.

Teri R. Switzer, Ph.D.

Dean, Kraemer Family Library, UCCS

Annelle Huggins (non-member)'s picture

I, too, will be unable to attend the meeting at Mid-Winter. 

I heartily agree that a "sunset" policy should be in place for ALA Committees and that COO should respond to its charge by making recommendations regarding the status of each Committee in an annual report to Council/Executive Board.   --  Committee Chairs are busy, however, reminders from ALA Liaisons as to the requirement of reports should be acceptable and made a routine scheduled assignment for each Liaison.   I would not expect the Liaison to write the report, however, as I believe when accepting appointment as a Committee Chair each person accepts the requirements of the position, including reporting to the appropriate body.  --  If this policy is successful, perhaps it could become a template for the Divisions and Roundtables to use in their Committee policies.

I agree with Teri that COO will need to play a vital role in the implementation of such a policy and, probably, serve as the major site in "policing" the implementation. It is to be hoped that Council and the Executive Board would emphasize the importance of COO in the process and support COO's recommendations on the status of such Committees.

I wish the members of the Committee safe travels to Philadelphia, and, hopefully, warmer weather!

Annelle R. Huggins

Associate Dean of University Libraries

University of Memphis (TN)

Annelle R. Huggins
Associate Dean of University Libraries
University of Memphis
Executive Director
Tennessee Library Association

Sandra Barstow's picture


Thank you for providing this information.  I'm planning to be at the COO meetings in Philadelphia so I won't write comments here, but I appreciate the ones I've seen so far.