Make a difference: Connect, contribute, collaborate: Volunteer for division or section committee appointments

Are you looking for ways to expand your professional network and contribute to ACRL? Committee volunteers help shape ACRL by advancing its strategic plan and influencing the direction of academic and research librarianship. Serving on a committee is one of the best ways to become involved and make an impact on the profession.

If you’d like to become more engaged, I invite you to volunteer to serve on a 2012–13 division or section committee.

Though I could tell you why I think it’s highly beneficial to volunteer for a committee or division, listen instead to what your colleagues say. In focus groups held at the ACRL 2011 conference, current committee members described their experience “as the single greatest value of membership” and the way to contribute to academic and research librarianship by influencing the issues that matter.

If you want to give back to the profession by helping ACRL achieve its strategic goals, please consider volunteering to serve on a committee: the process for doing so is much improved. I believe the rewards of committee participation are well worth the time invested. Build your relationship with ACRL and your fellow academic librarians by choosing to volunteer. The ideas you share can make a difference.—Steven Bell, ACRL Vice-President/President-Elect

The rewards of volunteering

Volunteers benefit by:

  • building ties with academic and research librarians around the country,
  • enhancing their leadership abilities through consensus building and project management,
  • sharing their experience with colleagues,
  • developing new expertise or updating knowledge in a current specialization, and
  • advancing the work of the association and the profession.

The appointment process

Appointments are made at the division and section level. Section vice-chairs are responsible for committee appointments for the year they will serve as chair. The ACRL vice-president is responsible for committee appointments at the division level for the year he or she serves as president. The ACRL Appointments Committee assists the vice-president in an advisory capacity. Division-level committees exist to conduct the work of the Board, and each committee crafts an annual work plan in coordination with the committee Board liaison to accomplish the charged activities and responsibilities.

Current committee members whose terms conclude at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference should submit a volunteer form if they wish to be considered for re-appointment. The volunteer form closes February 15, 2012, and most committee appointment offers will be sent in April and May 2012.

Factors influencing appointment

Although the appointment process may reflect the priorities of the vice-president/president-elect and section vice-chairs, several factors are always considered:

  • Evidence of prospective committee member’s interest and expertise. Have prospective volunteers attended meetings, introduced themselves to the chair, or visited the committee’s ALA Connect community? Do they have knowledge and/or previous experience that relates to the work of the committee? Have they indicated their interest on the volunteer form?
  • Demographics and composition of committee. A balance is sought with respect to type of library (community college, college, or university), geographic representation, ethnic diversity, and gender. Those who have not had the opportunity to serve on an ACRL committee are encouraged to volunteer.
  • Recommendation of the current committee chair. Current committee chairs are asked to suggest prospective members.

The final appointments are the prerogative of the ACRL president-elect and the section vice-chairs.

How to apply

1. Identify the committees that interest you. ACRL committees and their charges are listed on the ACRL Web site (, select “About ACRL,” then “Director of Leadership” from the menu bar).

Attend committee meetings at the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference to decide if their activities interest you. Talk with committee members. Express your interest to the committee chair. Ask about current projects, and explain how you might contribute to the work of the committee.

2. Submit a volunteer form. For division-level committees, visit for more detailed instructions. Volunteer forms should be submitted by February 15, 2012.

For section committees, complete the online volunteer form at You will be asked to login using your ALA member ID and the password you created. The form should be completed by February 15, 2012. Be sure that you are a current ALA/ACRL member before attempting to login.

3. Volunteer again. If you are not appointed, volunteer again next year. In addition, continue to explore ACRL’s many opportunities to network and exchange information at and review the existing discussion groups and interest groups or consider starting a new group.

Remember that many factors (number of committees, number of volunteers for each committee, number of volunteers from your type of library, or your geographic area) determine the actual appointment, and these factors change from year to year.

ACRL division-level committee appointments

ACRL committees (and their charges) can be found on the ACRL Web site (, select “About ACRL,” then “Directory of Leadership” from the menu bar).

Appointments to ACRL standing committees are made in the spring for terms beginning immediately after the ALA Annual Conference. The Appointments Committee sends appointment recommendations to the ACRL president-elect. The president-elect makes the final appointments for the committees.

Questions about division-level appointments may be directed to the Appointments Committee chair John Pollitz, director of libraries, University of Wisconsin, at E-mail: .

If you have any questions about using the volunteer form, please contact ACRL Program Officer Katie Coombes for division committees at E-mail: or (312) 280–2519 or ACRL Program Officer Megan Griffin for section committees at E-mail: or (312) 280–2514.

ACRL section appointments

ACRL has 17 specialized sections to help members customize their ACRL experience through newsletters, electronic discussion lists, specialized programming, preconferences, recognition, and focused activities. A description of their areas of responsibility is available at

Section vice-chairs appoint members to section committees. Most appointments are made in the spring for terms beginning immediately after the ALA Annual Conference.

If you wish to be considered for a section committee appointment, complete the ACRL volunteer form at by February 15, 2012. For more information about section appointments, please contact section vice-chairs below.

African American Studies Librarians Section. Gennice W. King, Xavier University of Louisiana; phone: (504) 520–7606; e-mail: E-mail: .

Anthropology and Sociology Section. Jennifer Darragh, Johns Hopkins University; phone: (410) 516–4368; e-mail: E-mail: .

Arts Section. Alessia Zanin-Yost, Western Carolina University; phone: (828) 227–3398; e-mail: E-mail: .

Asian, African and Middle Eastern Section. Deepa Banerjee, University of Washington; phone: (206) 685–1433; e-mail: E-mail: .

College Libraries Section. Gillian S. Gremmels, Davidson College; phone: (704) 894–2599; e-mail: E-mail:

Community and Junior College Libraries Section. Ann Coder, Brookhaven College; phone: (972) 860–4314; e-mail: E-mail: .

Distance Learning Section. Sandra Lee Hawes, Saint Leo University; phone: (352) 588–8262; e-mail: E-mail: .

Education and Behavioral Sciences Section. Vanessa Earp, Kent State University; phone: (330) 672–1657; e-mail: E-mail: .

Instruction Section. Susan G. Miller, Community College of Rhode Island; phone: (401) 333–7067; e-mail: E-mail: .

Law and Political Science Section. Le-Roy Jason LaFleur, University of Rochester; phone: (585) 275–9354; e-mail: E-mail: .

Literatures in English Section. Melissa S. Van Vuuren, James Madison University; phone: (540) 568–6937; e-mail: E-mail: .

Rare Books and Manuscripts Section. Erika Dowell, Indiana University; phone: (812) 855–2452; e-mail: E-mail: .

Science and Technology Section. Lori J. Ostapowicz-Critz, Georgia Tech; phone: (404) 385–4392; e-mail: E-mail: .

Slavic and East European Section. Patricia K. Thurston, Yale University; phone: (203) 432–8424; e-mail: E-mail: .

University Libraries Section. Stephanie S. Atkins, Washington University in St. Louis; phone: (314) 935–8235; e-mail: E-mail: .

Western European Studies Section. Heidi Madden, Duke University; phone: (919) 660–5984; e-mail: E-mail: .

Women and Gender Studies Section. Jennifer Mayer, University of Wyoming; phone: (307) 766–5578; e-mail: E-mail:

Editorial boards

ACRL has eight editorial/advisory boards for its publications: Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board; Choice Editorial Board; College & Research Libraries Editorial Board; College & Research Libraries News Editorial Board; New Publications Advisory Board; Publications in Librarianship Editorial Board; RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage Editorial Board; and Resources for College Libraries Editorial Board.

Appointments to editorial boards are made after the ALA Midwinter Meeting for terms that begin immediately after the ALA Annual Conference. The editors recommend the names of individuals to fill vacancies. The Publications Coordinating Committee approves the recommendation and the ACRL vice-president/president-elect makes the appointment.

If you would like to be considered for appointment to an editorial board, contact the editor of the editorial board early in the fall or indicate your interest on the ACRL online volunteer form.

Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey Editorial Board chair: Charles C. Stewart, City College of New York; e-mail: E-mail: .

CHOICE editor: Irving Rockwood, Choice; phone: (800) 347–6933 x119; e-mail: E-mail: .

College & Research Libraries editor: Joseph Branin, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology; e-mail: joseph. E-mail: .

College & Research Libraries News editor: David Free, ACRL; phone: (312) 280–2517; e-mail: E-mail: .

New Publications Advisory Board staff liaison: Kathryn Deiss, ACRL; phone: (312) 280–2529; e-mail: E-mail: .

Publications in Librarianship editor: Craig Gibson, George Mason University; phone: (703) 993–3716; e-mail: E-mail: .

RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage editor: Beth Whittaker, University of Kansas; phone: (785) 864–4275; e-mail: E-mail: .

Resources for College Libraries chair: Nancy P. O’Brien, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; phone: (217) 333–2408; e-mail: E-mail: .

ACRL is a changin’—A focus on committees

Change is critical for academic librarians who manage sustainable, fit libraries. Change is critical for ACRL, too. To remain healthy, agile, and responsive to the membership, the ACRL Board of Directors evaluates the effectiveness of every facet of the organization. To further that goal, the Board has extensively reviewed ACRL’s structure, both the division-level committees and those groups that make up the Communities of Practice. The former are committees, task forces, and editorial boards that the Board creates specifically to conduct work on its behalf; they are created and dissolved at the discretion of the Board according to the ACRL Bylaws. The latter includes Sections, Interest Groups, and Discussion Groups.

This year the Board examined the existing division-level committees, their alignment with the strategic plan, and the resources that are needed to support them. This review has determined that some strategic reorganization of the committee structure is needed. This message on behalf of the Board is designed to alert members to the planned changes, share background information, and provide notice of the Board’s desire for member input.


Put simply, our members. The ACRL Board is responsible to every member, and takes seriously the responsibility to run an efficient, productive, and effective organization that achieves its strategic plan. The committee review process made clear that ACRL can be more effective and efficient with fewer division-level committees. By eliminating duplication, merging committees with similar functions, shifting responsibilities to existing committees and broadening their responsibilities, and empowering ACRL representatives to existing ALA committees, ACRL can streamline the organization. Overall, this means fewer committees to manage, which frees up effort in order to achieve other critical work. The Board will make the restructuring plan available for feedback in early December. Members can comment on the proposed committee structure and transition plan.


Reorganizing will take approximately six months and will involve a fair amount of work. Before any change is approved, the Board will allow a time period for the membership to review the revised structure. At the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting there will be an opportunity for public review of the changes and feedback received from the membership during the ACRL Leadership Council meeting on Friday, January 20, 2012.


The Board knows well these changes will have an impact on committee members, but believes the outcomes are worthy of the necessary sacrifices. The result will be a more efficient division-level committee structure that better serves the membership, enables ACRL to continue delivering a great association experience, and aligns with ACRL’s Plan for Excellence. Every committee member affected by this process will receive priority consideration for obtaining an appointment to another division-level committee.

The bottom line is that ACRL, just like every academic library, is an evolving organism that must constantly refresh and re-engage with its community. The proposed new structure will best allow ACRL’s Board to accomplish its mission of serving the membership, while continuing to offer many opportunities for member engagement through service to ACRL.

ACRL Board of Directors

Copyright 2011© American Library Association

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