Tuesday and Wednesday I will be flying in and out of Chicago for the MLA Fall Board meeting. So who is the Board and what happens when they all meet together?
First off, here is a list of all the current and previous Board Members. The Nominating Committee selects people they think would be good candidates for the Board of Directors. They list them on the ballot for the membership to vote on. An elected Board Member serves for a period of 3 years. Each Board Member is appointed as liaison to MLA committees and task forces. Chapters and Sections are represented by the Chapter Council liaison and the Section Council liaison on the Board. The Board meets 3 times a year. They meet in May at the Annual Meeting (before and after the conference), in the Fall in Chicago, and in Jan/Feb online.
So what does the Board do?!
The Board does its best to represent the interests of the MLA membership through their liaison roles and through their participation in MLA. Not only do they discuss issues and trends within organization and work to address them but they also meet discuss the general operating needs of the organization.
While each meeting is a little different, the Board always discusses the operating needs of the organization such as financial health of MLA. In the May meeting the Board discusses a lot of what will or has happened at the Annual Meeting. The Board also gets to meet the newly elected Board Members and the new President elect. The Board members report on the committees or task forces to which they are liaisons. This Fall the Board will discuss the Presidential priorities and the President elect’s priority ideas. They will also discuss the results from the previous Annual Meeting’s survey (the results of which are not available until well after the meeting). Then they discuss action items and reports from the various MLA committees and task forces. Other items that are also discussed, planning and updates of the future Annual Meetings, MLANet, and liaison appointments for the next year. The Jan/Feb online meeting is relatively short (compared to in person all day meetings) where the Board discusses the preparations for the Annual Meeting and any updates to items discussed in the Fall.
You can read about what the Board discusses in each year’s annual report. The annual report summarizes what the Board and the rest of MLA has done for the year.
My work on the Nominating Committee gave me a interesting glimpse into the way our leadership is nominated and elected. My work on the Board as given me wonderful insight on how the organization runs and moves forward each year. The combination of the two has shown me how important it is for us as members to be active participants in the organization and for us to vote on our leaders. Serving as an MLA Board Member has been an awesome experience. I hope others who have served or will serve in the future feel the same way.
As always this Behind the Scenes post was created from information on MLA’s website. Understanding the various groups within MLA can get confusing and I hope by compiling the information into a series of posts it can help shed some light on the association. I invite anyone with more information about the MLA Board of Directors to comment.
**Update** I forgot to mention that President-elect Linda Walton wrote a nice article in August 2013 issue of MLA News on tips for joining an MLA committee (members only).
Usually I try and wait a little bit between my Behind the Scenes posts to give people a chance to read about other things than just MLA stuff. However, the deadline to join a committee is October 31st so that means I better write about it now to rather than later.
In past posts I have mentioned that Sections, Chapters, and SIGs are a great way to get involved within MLA and to meet, discuss, and just share knowledge with other librarians. Committees are also another great way to get involved. Committee are also a component of the engine that helps run MLA. Without people’s committee work, there are many things that wouldn’t get done. There are approximately 15 staff members of MLA for an organization of 2,500-3,000 librarians and there is no way those people can do everything. Much relies on the MLA members to keep their organization moving forward.
One way to help keep the organization moving forward is to volunteer to be on a committee. Each year MLA members must apply to join a committee or committees. An online committee application is available in the members-only area (active June through October 31). The form also appears in the August and September issues of MLA News and is available through headquarters. As I mentioned, the deadline for committee applications is October 31.
According to MLA’s website: “In making appointments, the association considers the background and skills of the applicants, as well as the responsibilities and needs of the committees. A history of active participation in committee work on the local, regional, or national level is an important qualification. Recommendations are sought from current committee chairs, members of the board of directors, and program staff. Some MLA committees require combinations of skills and knowledge found among few health sciences librarians. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to recruit certain members with unique experience and expertise to serve on specific committees. The president-elect makes final committee selections. During the president’s term, he or she names members to committees as vacancies occur.”
I have been on a couple of committees and basically the above paragraph is a really long way to say the following:
- Current committee members looks at those apply for committee spots
- Therefore list your whatever credentials, activities, experience you have even if it isn’t national experience. The committee members just want to make sure you are somebody who is willing to be an active participant.
- If you want to join a committee where your experience might helpful towards committee work. For example: people wanting to join the Technology Advisory Committee will want to list their technology experience.
- While the paragraph states the president elect makes final committee decisions, in my experience they usually go with the committee’s picks.
- Chairs are selected from the current committee members and usually serve for a slightly longer term than the rest of the committee members.
- In the event that certain expertise is needed for a committee, sometimes people are recruited to serve on a committee. The best example I can give where this happens continually is the National Program Committees. Once the chair for the NPC is chosen by the Board, the chair works with the president elect to a local assistance chair. The LAC chair is often chosen based on the host city location. That person has certain expertise (living in/near that city) that is required.
There are a lot of opportunities to join a committee because there are a lot of committees to choose from:
Clicking on each link will give you more information about each committee (MLA members only).
- Awards Committee and Juries
- Books Panel
- Bylaws Committee
- Continuing Education Committee
- Credentialing Committee
- Governmental Relations Committee
- Grants and Scholarships Committee and Juries
- JMLA Editorial Board
- Joseph Leiter NLM/MLA Lectureship Committee
- Librarians Without Borders® Advisory Committee
- Membership Committee
- MLA News Editorial Board
- National Program Committees
- Oral History Committee
- Rising Stars Committee
- Scholarly Communications Committee
- Technology Advisory Committee
Although the Administrative and Board Committees, Executive Committee, and the Nominating Committee are listed on the committee web page, these three committees are different and don’t follow the same application and appointment process. (See my post on the Nominating Committee.) So that brings me to the next important bit about committees….
Members are pretty much applying to be on standing committees (as list above). Executive and Nominating Committees are mandated by the bylaws and are different.
Ad hoc committees and task forces are appointed for a special purpose or specific study and are discharged when their tasks are completed. So these committees are not ones that you can apply for annually, the members are appointed. BUT…(and this is only my personal opinion) you would probably have a greater chance of being appointed if you are already active within MLA through your committee, Section, SIG or Chapter work. Just saying.
Juries are constituted for the purpose of recommending recipients of awards, prizes, grants, and scholarships. Panels are appointed to serve as peer-review and evaluation boards for MLA’s publication and credentialing programs. These groups are found within awards committees and other committees such as the JMLA Editorial Board.
Browse through the above list of committees and check out their annual reports to learn more about them. Find a couple that you are interested in and apply for them. The reason I say a couple…is because on the application you are asked to list your first, second, and third committee choices. There are some committees (NPC comes to mind) that are very popular, so it is a good idea to have backups that you are interested in.
If you are interested in joining a committee the biggest advice I can give is to provide information in the boxes about your participation and special expertise or qualifications. In the past I have seen some applications where people haven’t listed any information in those areas and it is very hard to choose people based on limited information.
Here we go with another Behind the Scenes post, this one will be about SIGs.
In my previous post I talked about Sections. SIGs and Sections often get confused with each other, perhaps because SIG information is on the Section Council website and Section Council represents SIGs via the Chair of the Section/SIG Review Committee. SIGs stands for Special Interest Groups. SIGs are “ad hoc groups open to all members of the association. SIGs range from a series of informal meetings on a specific, short-term issue to an established subgroup within an MLA section.”
There are 21 SIGs in MLA (view list here). SIGs “provide a forum for members with unique interests to identify and meet with others with similar interests without having to fulfill the governance requirements of Sections. SIGs are generally created as less formal and more flexible organizational units, with the advantages of fewer reporting and no minimum membership requirements.” IMHO think of a SIG as the light version of Section.
SIGs are less structured than Sections but offer MLA members with similar interests to get together and share information as a group. Instead of a Chair, Past Chair, Chair Elect and Treasurer/Secretary, SIGs only have a convener or co-conveners who are the contact person(s) with MLA and who organize meetings and other activities. Usually the convener submits the SIGs annual report to MLA. The SIGs annual report is much simpler than a Section’s annual resport. Here is a sample Word Doc of a SIG annual report.
SIG members must be MLA members. SIGs are not allowed to collect dues or do fundraising, therefore it is free to join a SIG. That sounds great, but having no money might present problems when it comes to speakers, panels, and fundraising for MLA programs. If a SIG needs to fundraise for a program then it needs to partner with a Section. Sections are allowed to have a treasury.
SIG conveners can request a meeting room at the annual meeting. They can have speakers or panels at their business meeting. But since they don’t have a treasury they cannot pay for speakers or panels. Additionally, the speakers or panels will not be listed in detail in the formal annual meeting program. SIGs can sponsor a CE course or symposia for MLA CE. The proposals must be submitted 18-24 months before the annual meeting and must follow the established MLA procedures.
SIGs cannot be the only sponsor for an MLA annual meeting program. They must partner with at least one Section if they wish to sponsor a program at MLA. Sections, Chapters, and the NPC are the only groups that can sponsor MLA programs by themselves. Usually Sections, Chapters, and the NPC look for co-sponsors for the MLA programs and SIGs can be co-sponsors.
SIGs are great way to get involved with other librarians without the cost or the duties/requirements of Sections. Many librarians are members of both SIGs and Sections. When looking to get involved choose the SIG or Section that meets your needs.
As always this Behind the Scenes post was created from information on MLA’s website and the Section Council website. Understanding the various groups within MLA can get confusing and I hope by compiling the information into a series of posts it can help shed some light on the association.
Since the deadline to apply for an MLA Committee is fast approaching (October 31st) my next Behind the Scenes post will be on MLA Committees and how do you get on them. Hint…apply to join a committee it is a great way to get involved, to learn about MLA and meet people.
Here we go with another Behind the Scenes post, this one will be about Sections.
In my previous post I said:
Chapters and Sections are different entities. If you belong to MLA you don’t not automatically belong to a Chapter or Section. You have to pay to be a member of a Chapter or Section.
Just because you belong to a Chapter it doesn’t mean you belong to a Section and vice versa.
There are 22 Sections for MLA. They represent the varied areas of specialization of librarianship. Sections meet annually and share information during the year through informal networking and newsletters. Some Sections like the Hospital Library Section have a lot of members and some Sections are smaller like the Dental Section. A complete description of all the Sections can be found here.
Each Section has officers and committee chairs some of those positions can vary according to the Section. MLA provides a general bylaw model for Sections, and you can find each Section’s specific bylaws on their site.
Each Section has:
- Chair (or President)
- Past Chair (or Past President)
- Chair Elect (or President Elect)
Terms of service for the Chair are usually three years, other positions terms of service may vary according to the Section. The Chair Elect serves as the Chair when the he/she is unable to do so. In most Sections the Chair Elect also serves as the programming chair for the next annual meeting. For example at the 2013 meeting, the newly elected Section Chair Elects met and discussed the programming for 2014. They will continue to do the programming for the annual meeting after the meeting via email.
The Chair presides over all meetings Section meetings and establishes the yearly goals of the Section, presents those to MLA (via report) and submits annual reports on the activities and goals of the Section.
Just like Chapters, Sections have a Section Council which represents the Sections as a whole to the Board of Directors of MLA. The Past Chair serves as the Section representative on the MLA Section Council by attending the meetings of the Council.
If it sounds like a lot, don’t worry because the good news is that Section Council has an online manual to help Chairs know what do to do while in office. Additionally, you probably aren’t going to be joining a Section and becoming Chair right away, so if you get invovled you will have the opportunity to see how each person’s role works within the Section.
I think joining a Section is a great way to get involved. Picking a Section is a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I don’t mean to say that you are house crashing at the Section Chair’s home. What I mean is that you may need to try a few out before you find a Section that fits “just right.” Don’t be afraid to join a Section for free during the Shuffle years and often you can sign up to be a part of a Section’s listserv to see if you would like to join the Section.
I hope this helps clarify a bit about MLA Sections. I hope to do a post soon on SIGs (which are not Sections). Like my previous Behind the Scenes series of posts, all of the information is available online and really isn’t behind the any scene. But since it is in different locations it can be difficult to find making it sometimes difficult to know what is going on. Everything I have written here is available and can be found on MLA’s website, Section websites, and Section Council Website. It is just a matter of finding the information and bringing it together.
Please let me know if you there is any other subject that you think would be good for the Behind the Scenes series.
There are a lot of people who are involved in MLA doing things, there are Section chairs, Committee chairs, Task Force chairs, Board Members, Presidents (new, current, past), Nominating Committee, etc.
Previously I wrote the post, Behind the Scenes: What is the MLA Nomintating Committe? detailing how the members of the Nominating Committee get to be on the Nominating Committee and that they are charged with picking the people to be on the ballot for Board Member and President to be voted on by the MLA membership.
Today I will tackle MLA Chapters:
I will write about Sections in future post but I want to first say Chapters and Sections are different entities. If you belong to MLA you don’t not automatically belong to a Chapter or Section. You have to pay to be a member of a Chapter or Section.
- Here is a link describing Chapters in greater detail, click on the Chapter for your state to get an overview about it.
- Here is a link describing the Sections in MLA, click on each Section to get an overview of each one.
I highly recommend being a member of your Chapter and/or a Section because they offer a great opportunity to become involved in the larger group of MLA.
Here is a rough break down of some of the leadership opportunities and positions within Chapters and Sections. There are a lot of Chapters and Sections and some may have committees unique to their group so I am going to try describe things that are common to all.
There are 13 Chapters and they are organized as groups of states (Philadelphia Chapter being the exception) roughly similar to how the National Network of Libraries of Medicine is organized. BUT the Chapters are NOT related to the NNLM system. Just because your library belongs to an NNLM region does not mean you belong to a Chapter. Membership with NNLM does not equal membership with Chapters and vice versa. They are separate medical library groups that just happen to divvy up the members across the United States (and parts of Canada) in a similar way.
Each Chapter has officers and committee chairs (can be found by clicking on the officers link for each chapter on MLA’s Chapter page) and some of the officers and chairs vary according to the Chapter. I am going to stick with the positions that are common among all of the Chapters. Hopefully after reading this post you are encouraged to join your chapter and you can learn about the other leadership positions and opportunities to get involved that are specific to your Chapter.
Many of the chapters have more detailed information about their officers in their bylaws.
In general each Chapter has:
- Chair (or President)
- Past Chair (or Past President)
- Chair Elect (or President Elect)
- Midwest Chapter is a little different than others and has two secretaries: Membership Secretary and Recording Secretary.
- Representative to MLA Chapter Council
- Alternate Representative to MLA Chapter Council
Terms of service for the Chair and the MLA Chapter Council Representative are three years, but it can vary with other positions (example: Secretary can range from 1-3 yrs depending on the Chapter).
The South Central Chapter has a very good illustration of the overall organizational structure of a Chapter.
While the duties of the Chairs (elect, current, and past), Secretary, and Treasurer may vary somewhat by Chapter, it is pretty easy understand their overall raison d’etre. The position of Chapter Council Representative may not be as well known by people unfamiliar with the Chapters.
To understand the position of the Chapter Council Representative, I should probably quickly describe Chapter Council.
(from About Chapter Council)
The Chapter Council of the Medical Library Association is one of two councils serving in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors of the Association. It promotes interchange among chapters, and, together with its counterpart, the Section Council, promotes interchange among sections and chapters and provides an opportunity for chapters to participate more directly in the governance of the Association through representation of their interests at the Board level. The Council also enables chapters to better define their role and function within the Association through participation in a coordinated, unified representative body.
Basically Chapter Council represents the Chapters as a whole to the Board of Directors of MLA. Each Chapter has its own Chapter Council Representative who represents their Chapter to the Chapter Council. (Click here for more specific information on “how” the Chapter Council Representative represents their Chapter.) The Chair of Chapter Council then represents Chapter Council (which represents the Chapters) to the Board of Directors of MLA.
So here is how the thought of a regular Chapter member can get to the Board of Directors via Chapters.
Chapter Member thought > Chapter officers > Chapter Council Rep > Chapter Council > Chair of Chapter Council > Board of Directors
I hope this helps clarify a bit about MLA Chapters. As I mentioned I will do a post in the future on Sections. Liike my previous Behind the Scenes series of posts, all of the information is available online and really isn’t behind the any scene. But since it is different locations it can be difficult to find making it sometimes difficult to know what is going on. Everything I have written here is available and can be found on MLA’s website, Chapter websites, Chapter Council Website, and the NNLM website. It is just a matter of finding the information and bringing it together.
Please let me know if you there is any other subject that you think would be could for the Behind the Scenes series.
In my previous Behind the MLA Scenes post, Mark Funk commented that he would like to see a post about the Nominating Committee. He says, “Something that I am always explaining to people is the process to get on the Nominating Committee. Once I explain, they understand, but there is a lot of confusion on this.” I understand where Mark is coming from because I know a few people who were once on the Nominating Committee who confided in me that they weren’t even sure how they got nominated.
So this post is going to try and clear up the confusion behind the Nominating Committee.
What is the Nominating Committee?
MLA has a page on MLANet devoted to the Nominating Committee (available to members). Basically the Nominating Committee is a group of 9 elected people and the MLA Past President who select the names that will be on the ballot for the Board of Directors and the President elect. The Nominating Committee is elected in November and the following May at MLA they meet in a room and hash out who they would like to see run for Board of Directors and President elect. (Often there is a lot of pre-MLA work coming up with names and resumes prior to their meeting so that they don’t spend as much time brainstorming names as they do debating and selecting people.)
One thing I think that can be confusing….
The elected Nominating Committee is tasked with selecting the next Board of Directors and President elect. So for example, the people who were elected in November 2012 (just this past MLA election) met in May 2013 (at MLA) to select the people they would like to put on the ballot for Board of Directors and President elect to be voted on in Novermber 2013 and start serving in 2014.
How does one get on the slate to be elected on to the Nominating Committee?
Three groups select the nominees for the Nominating Committee. They are Section Council, Chapter Council, and the Board of Directors. Each group submits 6 names to be candidates for the Nominating Committee.
Section Council Candidates
Section Council has the rules for selecting candidates available on the Section Council website. Basically each Section (MIS, EMTS, HLS, LMS, Cancer, Dental, etc.) submits a name of a person they would like to see as a candidate. There are 23 Sections and each submit a name. Section Council collects the names, biographical statement, and a willingness to serve statement of the 23 people then post the list to a website for the voting member of the Section to select a candidate. In most cases the voting member of the Section is the past Chair of that Section. The 6 people receiving the most votes become Section Councils nominees for the Nominating Committee.
Chapter Council Candidates
Chapter Council has their rules for selecting candidates on the Chapter Council website. They operate much like Section Council. Each Chapter submits the name of a person as potential candidate for Nominating Committee. There are 13 Chapters and each submit a name. Chapter Council collects the names, biographical statement, and a willingness to serve statement of the 13 people. ”The Council will vote, by secret ballot, on the names submitted by the chapters electronically or at the Annual Meeting.” The 6 people receiving the most votes will become Chapter Council nominees for the Nominating Committee.
Board of Directors Candidates
The Board of Directors Manual (available to members) explains the selection of the Nominating Committee. It briefly states the Section Council submits 6 candidates, Chapter Council submits 6 candidates and the Board submits 6 candidates. In a meeting at MLA, the Board submits the names of many potential candidates for the Nominating Comittee. Once the list of submitted names are established the Board of Directors then votes and the 6 people with the most votes become the Board of Directors nominees for the Nominating Committee.
Who does the MLA membership vote for Nominating Committee?
Come November, the MLA membership is asked to vote for the Board of Directors, President elect and the Nominating Committee. The 18 people listed on the slate are the 6 candidates from each group. The MLA voting members will select the Board of Directors, President elect and the Nominating Committee. The 9 people who recieve the most votes from the list of 18 will be the Nominating Committee. They will be tasked with selecting the future slate for Board of Directors and President elect.
So in 2011 the MLA voting members selected Max Anderson, Ana D. Cleveland, Keith W. Cogdill, Jo Dorsch, Sherrilynne S. Fuller, Heidi Heilemann, Melissa L. Just, Neville D. Prendergast, and Lisa K. Traditi to be the Nominating Committee. These people met at MLA 2012 selected the names of candidates for the Board of Directors and President elect for 2012 and presented it to the membership to be voted on in November 2012. The membership voted and elected Linda Walton as President elect and Sandra Franklin and Kristine Alpi for the Board of Directors to serve in 2013.
Other Rules of Being on the Nominating Committee
Candidates must be a member of MLA, they may not have been on the Nominating Committee within the last 5 yrs. They also may not be a candidate for an elected office and vice versa.
I hope I was able to clear up any confusion with the Nominating Committee. Since multiple groups are submitting names and because discussions of potential candidates should be kept confidential the process can seem a little mysterious. I think the Nominating Commitee is one of the most important choices MLA membership make when voting, because the Nominating Committee people are the ones who will be selecting the next set of MLA leaders the membership will be voting for.
In Boston, at the 2013 Medical Library Association’s Annual Meeting I blogged as the Unofficial MLA Insider. In the past I noticed that both MLA new members as well as long time members aren’t always sure as to how things work. My posts were meant to shed some light on what happens at the meeting as well as within MLA.
MLA is a great group full of interesting and helpful librarians, and even though we aren’t the size of ALA, it is sometimes hard to know the structure, how things work, who does what, etc. within the organization. So I have decided to continue my unofficial MLA insider posts with an attempt at pulling back the curtain of the organization.
One note, much of the stuff I will be blogging about is available on the organization’s website, MLANet.org, and available to current members, but I think the best way to really understand is to also get involved. It is one thing to read and another to do.
I will still continue writing about other things on the blog, but I will throw in an unofficial insider post every once and a while.
If you didn’t read the MLA 2013 blog, here are links to my posts which will give you an idea of what I intend to write about.
- 2015 NPC Ideas Starts Now -What all happens when planning the annual meeting. Timelines, speakers, programs, selecting a theme, etc.
- What is the Leaders Tea and Who is a Leader? -It isn’t the medical version of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers, it is a meeting on what you need to do now that you are chair of a Section, Committee, Task Force, etc.
- How Things Get Done in MLA - Basic background of how things happen within the MLA structure.
In the following weeks I plan to write a post about Sections, SIGs, Chapters and other entities within the larger MLA. My intention is to shed light on what is sometimes a very confusing area for members. I will be answering the often asked question, “What is a Section and how is it different than a SIG?”
What are some of the things you always wondered about MLA? Let me know and I will try and shed some light on it. I need your imput and questions to help make this unofficial insider series work