Behind the Scenes: MLA Sections

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) 
  • Treasurer/Secretary

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.

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