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ACRL Board Manual 2021-2022

Board Manual for the ACRL Board of Directors.

5.0 Roles & Responsibilities: Board of Directors

The composition and the duties of the Board of Directors are defined in Article IX, Sections 1, 2, and 3 of the ACRL Bylaws (Bylaws revisions approved: April 11, 2018; May 2, 2008; April 29, 2011).

Section 1. Members. The Board of Directors shall consist of the officers of the Association, the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, the ACRL councilor, and eight elected directors-at-large. The ACRL executive director shall be an ex-officio member without vote.

Section 2. Responsibility & authority. The governing body of the association shall be the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors shall direct the affairs of the association; determine its policies or changes therein; actively encourage support for its goals; establish financial policies of the association and be accountable for association assets; and be responsible for the interpretation of these bylaws. The Board may adopt such rules and regulations for the conduct of its business as shall be deemed advisable, and may, in the execution of the powers granted, delegate certain of its authority and responsibility to such agents as it may consider necessary. The Board shall delegate the day-to-day operations of the Association to the executive director.

Section 3. Directors-at-Large. Directors-at-large shall be elected from the personal members of the Association for terms of four years.

  • a) One director-at-large shall be a member of the University Libraries Section; one shall be a member of the College Libraries Section; one shall be a member of from the Community and Junior College Libraries Section; two directors-at-large shall be a member of an ACRL Chapter with experience on Chapters Council; two shall be from ACRL’s Community of Practices; and one director-at-large shall be elected based upon nominations from the Divisional Leadership Recruitment and Nomination Committee.
  • b) These terms shall overlap so as to ensure continuity of policy. The election of directors-at-large based on section and council nominations shall be scheduled consecutively: year 1, University Libraries Section and Chapters Council; year 2, College Libraries Section and ACRL Communities of Practice; year 3, Community and Junior College Libraries Section and Chapters Council; year 4, ACRL Communities of Practice, and the at-large candidate. On the ballot, all nominees shall be listed as candidates for "directors-at-large."
  • c) Once elected director-at-large, a Board member may not serve as chair or as Board liaison officer of an ACRL section, interest group, chapter, or council for the duration of the four-year term. Nor may an elected director-at-large serve in that capacity on the Executive Committee of an ACRL section, interest group, chapter, or council.
  • d) Once elected, a President/Vice-President/Immediate Past President may not serve as chair or as Board liaison officer of an ACRL section, chapter, or council for the duration of the four-year term. Nor may an elected President/Vice-President/Immediate Past President serve in that capacity on the Executive Committee of an ACRL section, chapter, or council.

Section 4. Quorum. At any meeting of the Board of Directors, a simple majority of the voting members of the Board shall constitute a quorum.

Section 5. Meetings of the Board. Regular meetings of the Board of Directors may be held in conjunction with each American Library Association Midwinter Meeting and American Library Association Annual Conference. Virtual meetings of the Board may be called by the president or at the request of seven (7) members of the Board. Actions of the Board shall be reported in writing not later than the next Board meeting.

Section 6. Participation. In the case of continued failure of a director to participate in the deliberations of the Board, the Board may, by a vote of the majority of its members, declare the seat vacant and the vacancy shall be filled as provided in these bylaws.

Section 7. Compensation. Directors and elected officers shall not receive any compensation for their services.

The composition and the duties of the Executive Committee are defined in Article X, Sections 1- 4 of the ACRL Bylaws. (Bylaws revisions approved: April 11, 2018; May 2, 2008; April 29, 2011)

Article X: Executive Committee

Section 1. Members. The Executive Committee shall consist of the officers of the Association, the ACRL councilor, the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, and the ACRL executive director who shall serve without vote.

Section 2. Responsibility and authority. The Executive Committee may act in place and stead of the Board of Directors between Board meetings and may:

  •  a) act for the Board and make decisions on matters which:
    • (1) require action before the next Board meeting,
    • (2) have been specifically delegated by the Board to the Executive Committee,
    • (3) affect the budget and require immediate action;
  • b) act for the Board in the administration of established policies and programs and make recommendations to the Board with respect to matters of policy and operations; and
  • c) review ACRL activities and programs and recommended priorities.

The Executive Committee's actions shall be reported in writing not later than the next meeting of the Board.

Section 3. Call of meetings. The President of the Association shall call meetings of the Executive Committee as the business of the Association requires.

Section 4. Quorum. At any meeting of the Executive Committee, a simple majority of the voting members of the Executive Committee shall constitute a quorum.

Note: Typically, Executive Committee meetings are held in the spring and fall. In recent years, the full Board has been invited to attend the spring and fall virtual meetings.

The elected officers of the division as defined by the bylaws are the president, the vice-president/president-elect, and the immediate past president. The executive director is the chief appointed officer for the association.

Some of the duties of these officers are included in the bylaws, but many responsibilities are assigned by the Board of Directors as need arises. The list that follows includes those duties mentioned in the bylaws and other responsibilities that are generally accepted as the function of the various officers.

The ACRL Board of Directors has general oversight and direction of the affairs of the association. It conducts all business pertaining to the association, and has authority to make decisions for the association during the periods between meetings.

Specific Expectations
  1. Participate in the work of the Board year round.
  2. Attend all Board meetings (face-to-face and virtual) in their entirety.
  3. Vote on all Board actions (face-to-face and virtual).
  4. Assume responsibility for implementing and advancing the Plan for Excellence.
  5. Review, assess, and oversee policies and actions taken by the association.
  6. Adopt programs to carry out the association's core purpose.
  7. Approve the budget.
  8. Approve funding for new initiatives.
  9. Support Board actions publicly even if individually one has reservations about the decision.
  10. Employ a chief staff executive to carry out policy.
  11. Provide the Executive Director with appropriate resources to carry out the programs adopted, and evaluate the Executive Director based upon performance.
  12. Fulfill Board liaison assignments, as well as assignments to Board working groups, committees or representative of the association.
  13. Evaluate and expeditiously follow up on actions by the Board.
  14. Be available to members, individuals and groups for discussion and concerns.
  15. Represent ACRL within ALA.
  16. Assist in generating nominations for ACRL awards.
  17. Understand that the Board is a working Board and requires a significant time commitment.

The Board of Directors must work toward the greater good of the association. In order to do so, the Board must operate as a whole and not as individuals. Each position is of equal importance to its success, and if any one Officer or Board member fails, the working ability and effectiveness of the entire Board and organization is impacted. A Board must have mutual respect among its members. Free and open discussion is encouraged in meetings.

Expectations of Effective Board Members

  1. Ensure that programs are responsive to ACRL membership needs and support the Plan for Excellence.
  2. Listen to needs and interests of membership. Report to President and Executive Director issues or concerns from members.
  3. Use Board meeting time effectively; bring all important matters before the Board; present in writing any recommendations for action.
  4. Prepare for each Board meeting by carefully studying the agenda and supporting materials. Read Board documents and budget reports to make careful, informed decisions on issues and the future of the association.
  5. Ask questions for clarification during the discussion period before the Board formally acts as appropriate.
  6. Keep abreast of ACRL activities and issues by reading meeting minutes and maintain communication with member units you serve as Board liaison to.
  7. Participate actively in Board decision-making by voicing opinions.
  8. Maintain constructive relationships within all units and divisions of the association.
  9. Send copies of correspondence (or CCs on e-mail) to Executive Director, President, or other members of the Board as appropriate.
  10. Read thoroughly: ACRL foundation documents, ACRL Guide to Policies & Procedures, ALA Handbook of Organization, ACRL Bylaws, the Board orientation manual, and other materials pertaining to the job.
  11. Study ALA and ACRL program information to be a knowledgeable (intelligent) source of information for members and nonmembers.
Financial Expectations of Board Members

Board members are expected to fully support the association’s activities, including:

  1. Attend the ACRL biennial conference (upcoming ACRL conferences).
  2. Attend the ALA Midwinter and Annual Conferences (upcoming ALA conferences), as long as the ACRL Board chooses to participate.
  3. Join the Friends of ACRL and support ACRL’s annual fundraising initiative.
  4. Recognize the possibility that they may be called on to spend additional days at ALA and ACRL conferences for special Board work sessions.



ACRL division-level committees (except for ACRL Conference committees and some awards committees) and ACRL sections have Board liaisons. The ACRL Vice-president assigns Board liaisons for the year in which he/she will be President based on Board member expertise and interests. At the 2010 Spring Executive Committee meeting, the following principles for ACRL Board liaisons were reaffirmed.

  • Board work (e.g., Board liaison work) is year-round and happens virtually and face-to-face.
  • All Board members participate in Board work equally.
  • ACRL’s member unit activities should be aligned with ACRL’s goals.
  • Board liaisons are not members of their liaison units rather they are communication conduits.*
  • There should be alignment of Board liaisons expertise and committee liaison service.
  • There should be a standard foundation of Board liaison support recognizing that different committees have different needs.
  • The division-level committee’s annual work plans are the current priority of the Board liaison work at this time.

Division-level Committees

ACRL division-level committee work is guided by committee charge and the annual work plan process. A review of the roles of those involved in the divisional committee annual work plan process follows.

ACRL Board of Directors:

  • Provide association leadership and establish strategic plan and priorities.
  • Ensure that ACRL has financial resources needed to invest in new and continuing committee/association activities.
  • Individual Board members fulfill liaison assignments.

Board Liaison:

  • Provide feedback in concert with staff liaison to committee on its draft annual work plan in order to collaboratively develop the final work plan. A review checklist is available in the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures Chapter 3.11.
  • Approve the final work plan via email.
  • Review the work plans, identifying any activities that relate to the strategic goal initiatives and then send such activities to the attention of the chairs of the strategic goal-area committees, Board members serving on goal area committees, and the staff liaisons of the strategic goal area committees.
  • Provide support (working with the staff liaison) to the committee as the work plan is implemented throughout the year.

Committee Chair and Vice-Chair:

  • Lead committee’s development of annual work plan within the established time frame.
  • Lead committee work to accomplish the committee charge and annual work plan throughout the membership year.
  • Communicate progress to the Board via the committee’s Board liaison and provide the staff liaison with meeting agendas and minutes in accordance with announced deadlines.
  • Adhere to ALA’s Open Meeting Policy by posting meeting notices ten days in advance on ALA Connect.

Staff Liaison:

  • Support committee chairs and vice-chairs in developing and accomplishing annual work plans.
  • Maintains committee meeting agenda and minutes archives at ALA Headquarters.

Budget and Finance Committee:

  • Advise the ACRL Board of Directors to ensure that ACRL has financial resources needed to invest in new and continuing committee/association activities.

Board liaisons to committees serve as resources for committee chairs and vice-chairs to help them advance the ACRL Plan for Excellence and integrate the Board’s priorities when developing an annual committee work plan. In addition to Board liaisons, ACRL committees have staff liaisons to provide support and explain ACRL processes.

Guidelines for Board Liaisons

Board liaisons to committees interact directly with the committee chair and vice-chair to ensure that the work of the committee fulfills its committee charge and advances the work of the Association. Board liaisons should consider the following guidelines while working with newly appointed committee chairs and vice-chairs.

Establish a Relationship

Schedule a time to talk on the phone or have a virtual exchange before Annual Conference. Include the current chair, incoming chair (current vice-chair), and incoming vice-chair in the discussion.

  1. Introductions
    • Be sure to introduce yourself and get to know the committee leaders.
  2. Overview of Board and Committee relationship
    • The Board establishes committees for various purposes—e.g., to provide advice and recommendations, for review and reporting, to conduct work linked to the strategic plan, or to oversee association procedures (nominations, awards, etc.).
    • Discuss their committee’s importance to advancing the ACRL Plan for Excellence.
  • Explain you are there to facilitate communication between the Board and the committee; Board liaisons are there to assist, not supervise.
  • Explain that given schedule restraints, your work with the committee may be virtual and that you may or may not be able to attend their meetings.
  • If the committee has a discussion list or other means of virtual communication group, ask to be included. Suggest the committee try ALA Connect and use of ACRL’s virtual meeting software for sharing documents and working virtually.
  • Request copies of agendas and meeting highlights from the committee for each meeting held at the Midwinter Meeting, Annual Conference, virtual meetings, and substantive virtual discussions.
  • Ask to receive copies of reports and action items as they are sent to ACRL.
  • Decide on communication preferences for working together (email, phone, online social networking, etc.)
  1. Facilitate establishing the annual committee work plan
    • Be prepared: Review or have handy the committee charge, ACRL Plan for Excellence, and any priorities set by the Board. See the resources section below.
  • Expect the committee leaders to be prepared: Ask what they hope to accomplish in the next year and review charge and any special assignments from the Board.
    • Discuss their work plan requests/projects underway as appropriate.
  • Discuss any current environmental scan/member surveys/gap analysis/Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as appropriate.
  • Review the proposed work plan against the following criteria:
    • How do the activities detailed in the work plan advance the Plan for Excellence and/or ACRL’s enabling programs and services?
    • Is the previous year’s report included?
    • Does the plan include all work the Board has charged the committee with carrying out on behalf of ACRL?
    • Does the plan include adequate assignments and deadlines to ensure all committee members have a role, progress is consistent, and ACRL deadlines are met as appropriate?
    • Are there potential financial or policy implications?
  1. Encourage the committee’s success throughout the year
  • Stay connected to committee progress. The goal is to establish a working rapport that facilitates easy and pleasant conversation around committee outcomes. Check in with your committee chairs if responses are not received or report deadlines are missed.


Although each Board member may choose to handle specific responsibilities in ways that best suits their communication style and best matches the needs of the section, the effective practices listed in below provide recommended directions to ensure effective communication with the Association. This document may be particularly useful for new Board members and new section chairs.

Board liaisons can provide perspective, guidance, and insight regarding ACRL policies, procedures, and initiatives. Board members can be particularly helpful in soliciting feedback from sections regarding proposed Board actions. Board liaisons can also provide helpful advice regarding action plan proposals and Board Action Forms, which section leaders will need to submit for official ACRL Board and Executive Committee action/decisions.

Effective Practices

All Board Liaisons

  • Contact chairs shortly after liaison assignments have been made by the ACRL President and offer to introduce yourself at the Leadership Council & Membership Meeting at the ALA Annual Conference.
  • Join the discussion list. The discussion lists provide insight into issues of current interest and concern.
  • You are automatically a member of the ALA Connect community. Be sure to adjust your profile settings to receive notices of updates from the community.
  • Plan to attend the Leadership Council & Membership Meeting and Welcome Reception.
  • Advise the chair about policies or practices as needed and refer the chair to the appropriate ACRL staff member(s) when additional information is needed.
  • Offer guidance in developing work plans, conference planning, etc., and encourage collaboration with other ACRL units as appropriate.
  • To ensure open communication and realistic expectations, communicate with leaders what you can and can’t do and attend.

Board Liaisons to Sections

  • Ask to be added to the sections’ executive committee discussion list. This will allow the Board liaison to keep abreast of the community’s discussions, though any items that specifically require the Board liaison’s comment/action should also be sent to him/her directly to ensure that the request is seen and considered.
  • Browse the sections’ website (section rosters and websites) and Connect communities to learn more about the sections’ structure and current projects.
  • Encourage sections to complete the Strategic Plan Implementation Report by the announced deadline, which is typically in August.

ACRL Resources

  • Committee Charges and rosters are listed in the ACRL Directory of Leadership, as well as in ALA Connect.
  • ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures includes guiding policy and procedures for the association.
  • The ACRL Plan for Excellence, states the fundamental purpose of the association and strategic goals.
  • Tips and podcasts on effective meeting preparation (ALA login required) by ALA Parliamentarian Eli Mina. It is also available on ALA Connect (ALA login required).
  • Update your membership profile or status by calling ALA Member and Customer Service at 800-545-2433, extension 5 or visiting My ALA.
  • The ACRL Conflict of Interest Policy is section 1.19 of this manual.
  • Communication and Idea Sharing: ACRL, as well as its sections and committees, offer a number of web resources for its members. These resources facilitate virtual collaboration, networking, and centralize vital information.
  • Forms: HTML and PDF versions of a range of ACRL forms, such as petitions for establishing chapters, sections, interest groups, and discussion groups; Board of Directors action forms; publication and program proposals; and scholarship applications.
  • ACRL LibGuides: ACRL units use LibGuides to create resources for the profession, such as toolkits and bibliographies.
Division-level Committee Template Letter

Board liaisons to division-level committees can use the following introductory letter to welcome new committee chairs when their appointments begin on July 1 of each year.

Section Template Letter

Board liaisons to sections can use the following introductory letter to welcome new section chairs when their appointments begin on July 1 of each year.

Board Liaison Check List

The following Board liaison check list can be used as a guide for activities that should be completed by the Board liaison between Annual Conference and the fall Strategic Planning and Orientation Session (SPOS).


Directors-at-large are assigned liaison responsibilities to division-level committees and sections by the ACRL Vice-President/President-Elect after elections in May. Liaison assignments to division-level committees are based on office, as well as Board member expertise and interest. Section liaison assignments pair Board members with sections in which they have not been active.

The Board liaison is not a member of the assigned unit, rather a representative for the purpose of facilitating communications between the Board and the ACRL unit. Board liaisons also provide continuity to member units.

To ensure continuity between Board liaison transitions, outgoing Board liaisons should orient incoming Board liaisons as soon as the assignments are announced (generally May or June).​