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Frequently Asked Questions about "Groups" in ALA Connect

  1. What are "ALA groups?"
  2. What are "member communities?"
  3. What is the difference between "ALA groups" and "member communities?"
  4. How do I join an "ALA group?"
  5. How do I join a "member community?"
  6. How do I leave an "ALA group?"
  7. How do I leave a "member community?"
  8. Can I observe what an ALA group is doing without joining the group?
  9. I'm supposed to be part of a specific ALA group, but I can't access it or post anything to it. What do I do?
  10. Don't see your question listed here? Contact us for an answer.

  1. What are "ALA groups?"
    "ALA groups" are formal entities within ALA's structure and are represented in the ALA Handbook of Organization to coordinate and accomplish the work of the Association. These include committees, divisions, sections, round tables, task forces, and other working groups. In the context of ALA Connect, this also includes major events such as the Midwinter Meeting, Annual Conference, division conferences, national institutes, and other venues that participants pay money to attend.

    Another way to think of "ALA groups" is as any member affiliation we track in our membership database (known as "iMIS"). If you pay dues to join it, if you're elected or appointed to it, or if we otherwise track that you're part of something, then it's listed in our membership database and in turn, here in Connect as an "ALA group." Therefore, all active "ALA groups" have rosters, which display accurately, in real-time in Connect.

    As a committee member, you cannot leave a committee in ALA Connect. You first have to be removed from the committee's roster in our membership database. Please contact your committee's staff liaison to remove yourself from a committee.

    Divisions, sections, and round tables are also formal "ALA groups." You will appear as a member of one of these ALA groups in Connect if you have paid dues to join them. Continued membership in the division, section, or round table in Connect is dependent on renewing your membership with that group. You can renew your ALA membership on our website.

     

  2. What are "member communities?"
    "Member communities" are the opposite of formal "ALA groups." They're informal communities that anyone can join based on interest. They can be communities of practice dedicated to a specific topic (e.g., interlibrary loan, knitting, etc.) or they can be a loose collection of people who form their own personal learning network as needed on an ad-hoc basis (e.g., folks who want to learn about podcasting this month). There is no formal roster, and the group might live on forever or dissolve itself next year. It needs no formal approval from ALA, as long as it does not violate the User Guidelines.

    Any ALA member can start a new community. Please note that ALA does track new communities as they are created, but you can create ones for almost any topic as long as you don't violate our User Guidelines. ALA reserves the right to remove any communities that do not meet those guidelines.

     

  3. What is the difference between "ALA groups" and "member communities?"
    "ALA groups" are working groups or membership affiliations listed in the ALA Handbook of Organizations, while "member communities" are informal interest groups that members form outside of the formal structure of ALA. If you paid money to join it, it's an "ALA group." If you joined a loose community of members who just want to talk about a specific subject, it's probably a "member community." "ALA groups" have labels such as committee, division, event, section, and round table, while "member communities" are labeled as "community."

     

  4. How do I join an "ALA group?"
    Your membership in a committee, division, event, section, or round table comes from our membership database, not from Connect. If you want to join a committee, task force, or other working group, you need to volunteer and be appointed to it. To join a division, section, or round table, you need to formally join it and pay dues via our website. To join an event in Connect, you need to register for it via our website. Once your membership record is updated with your new affiliation, you will see it appear here in Connect when you log in. If you've joined a new ALA group and don't see it listed in Connect, try logging out of Connect and then logging in again. You should see your new group appear within one minute of logging in. If you encounter problems with this process, please don't hesitate to contact us.

     

  5. How do I join a "member community?"
    If the community is open to new members, you'll see a "Join" button in the right-hand column. If the group's owner has to approve your request to join, you'll see a "Request Membership" button in the right-hand column. Just click on that button and follow the prompts to send the group admin a request to join.

     

  6. How do I leave an "ALA group?"
    Because ALA Connect synchronizes information directly from ALA's membership database, you can't leave a formal "ALA group" from within Connect. If you no longer wish to be part of a committee, division, event, round table, section, or task force, contact the group's staff liaison or ALA's Customer Service Department. We have to change your status in the membership database, and then the change will appear in Connect.

     

  7. How do I leave a "member community?"
    ALA Connect's "member communities" don't synchronize with our membership database, because anyone can join them. If you visit a community's home page, you should see a link in the right-hand column that says, "Email preferences/Leave group." If you follow that link, you'll go to a page with an option to "Leave this Group."

     

  8. Can I observe what an ALA group or member community is doing without joining it?
    Yes! You can read and sometimes even comment on any material marked as "public" from any ALA group. You can observe the public output of the group by visiting the group's home page on a regular basis or subscribing to its RSS feed (look for the orange RSS icon example RSS icon width= at the bottom of the group's home page).

     

  9. I'm supposed to be part of a specific ALA group, but I can't access it or post anything to it. What do I do?
    Since your ALA affiliations come directly from our membership database, we'll need to check there to see what the problem is. Your best bet is to contact the group's admin as listed on the member roster (follow the link in the right-hand column of the group's home page). That person will be able to provide you with the most direct help, but if that doesn't work, feel free to contact us for further help.