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Bylaws & Organization Meeting at ALAMW16 - Minutes

LITA Bylaws & Organization Committee Meeting
ALA Midwinter Meeting - January 9, 2016
Attending: Andrea Mullarkey, Matthew, Frank, Paul, Ed, Richard, Jenny Levine
Agenda topics:
Update on things that have happened during the fall:
- Interest Group renewals are proceding. (See report on Connect - Bylaws & Organization, All Chairs spaces)
- Multiple updates to the manual, committee charges as directed/requested by Board and other committees
- Parliamentary guidance to the board as they transition leadership and work on systems/flow for the Board
Major project going forward: LITA MANUAL - THE NEXT GENERATION
We have been talking about this project as an update to the LITA manual but as we continued discussions at Midwinter it is clear that what is needed is more than a simple update or revision.
We identified several issues through our discussion:
* The current process for updating the manual is unnecessarily complicated
* The high turnover rate among member leaders in LITA leads to a lack of continuity which compounds the problem of documentation - it is both more important and less regularly done.
* There is a divide between who has the knowledge to develop the content for a manual and who has a mandate/responsibility to make sure it's done.
* What we are experiencing with the manual and bylaws revisions/updates points to a larger organizational dynamic.
* There is a tension between the desire for flexibility within LITA leading to a more loosey-goosey approach and the desire for documentation and consistency.
* The lack of good documentation leads to difficulties with transparency, knowledge transfer and leadership development.
We as a group believe two things are needed and as a result propose a 2-pronged solution to the problems:
FIRST, we as a committee believe we need a significantly different kind of manual. We think the next generation manual should be:

  • Simpler. There are many areas where the manual could be weeded/de-duped. There are also many things int he manual that could more effectively live in committee connect spaces, mailing list archives or elsewhere.
  • De-centralized. The manual should lean more heavily on technology for updating (perhaps a wiki, or a comment-enabled Wordpress installation) that allows more people to update in areas they have responsibility for and relies less on a complicated chain of people to make changes happen.

We as a committee are prepared to spend the next several months going through the current manual and making a proposal to the board for a structure/skeleton/outline of what the next generation manual should look like. This will proceed asynchronously with the group taking up sections of the manual roughly every other week (as nudged by email by Andrea).
We will look at the Bylaws (the first part of the Manual) as a part of this process and will make a proposal for revision that is smaller in scope than the revision project that has been undertaken thus far. Our goal will be to propose revisions to the bylaws that will bring the document into alignment with actual practice but not to propose new structural changes to the organization or its functioning at this time.
We defer to LITA staff to make suggestions/decisions about technology or platforms that will make more ready, efficient updating of a manual possible.
SECOND, we as a committee believe that there needs to be a group within LITA that is constituted for a longer duration of time to look at organizational change, knowledge transfer, and leadership development. We believe a task force, ad hoc committee or similarly formed kind of group could provide the continuity needed to develop the tools needed to make meaningful change in the way that things are documented and shared among successive leadership groups. We anticipate such a group would be interested in and address the manual and bylaws revisions/process but would also be interested in member leader training, recruitment, and transitions more broadly.