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Science and Technology Section (STS): About Our Committees

Whether you are a chair, committee member, or prospective member, this is your go-to resource for information about STS committees

STS Co-Chair & Committee Communication Good Practices

The following items are best practice suggestions for communications for STS leaders. Establishing clear expectations for communication is one way to make sure more voices are heard and included.  Feel free to adapt these suggestions to the needs of your committee. 

Communicating with your co-chair

Typically, STS committees and discussion groups will have two co-chairs. Co-chair appointments are usually made on a staggered schedule so that one co-chair will have had one year of experience with the committee (known as the “ongoing co-chair” or “continuing co-chair”) and the other co-chair will be new to the role (known as the “incoming co-chair”). Co-chairs will typically begin communicating with each other at the beginning of the ALA committee cycle (July 1), though it may be wise or sensible to initiate communication earlier, including communication with the co-chair whose two-year term is ending (known as the “outgoing co-chair”) to relay relevant information and ensure continuity. The following suggestions are provided to help guide your initial co-chair email exchange or meeting as you determine how you and your co-chair will collaborate. 

  1. Review your committee’s charge and responsibilities

  2. Identify the expected contribution of each co-chair. Note - there are no STS committee-wide expectations. The contributions will likely vary depending on the co-chairs’ interests, strengths, and expertise. Communication is key to navigating those elements.

Some sample contribution options to discuss include:

  1. Establishing a system for committee meeting facilitation (e.g., rotating, set co-chair, etc…)

  2. Establishing a system for committee meeting minute taking (e.g., rotating, set co-chair, committee member, etc…)

  3. Establishing a system for  posting minutes to ALA Connect and submissions to the STS Signal (e.g., rotating, set co-chair, etc…)

  4. Determining how committee meeting agendas will be drafted (e.g., jointly in a shared doc, rotating turns, set co-chair, with the full committee, etc…)

  5. Determining who will send out committee meeting agendas (to the committee, the STS listserv, and ACRL) and initiate communications with the committee (e.g., rotating, set co-chair, etc…)

  6. Discussing who will attend and report out at STS Council (e.g., both co-chairs, alternating, based on availability)

  7. Some committees have specific roles (e.g., Publishing has the STS Webmaster and the Signal editors) - discuss whether co-chairs will take on any of the task-specific roles or identify committee members to do so

  8. Set up milestones for the work of your committee for the upcoming year

    1. Milestone activities may include work you and your co-chair will carry out as well as work done by committee members

    2. Consider putting these milestones in an online document that can be shared with your committee

    3. These milestones can help shape the end-of-year reporting you will be asked to do for the annual report. Share your committee’s annual report responses for the previous year with the incoming co-chair to help familiarize them with the work the committee has been doing.

  9. Discuss where information about your committee work is currently stored or will be stored and how it will be passed along the following year

    1. STS committees may use ACRL STS LibGuides for public documents
    2. ALA Connect should be used for official meeting minutes and private documents
    3. Committees may also use internet sharing sites, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, for living documents (e.g., planning documents) but be sure to transfer access to future committee co-chairs and move documentation for longer-term access to either STS LibGuides (public documentation) or ALA Connect (private documents for only committee viewing)
    4. If your committee collects survey or research data, work with the STS Data and Assessment committee to store that data in an openly available, long-term storage platform.
  10. Discuss your preferred mode of communication with your co-chair

Some example options might include:

  1. Sending quarterly check-in emails to each other

  2. Holding an online meeting to discuss any questions or issues either before or after a committee meeting

  3. Stating what a timely communication response from you typically looks like so your co-chair can set their expectations accordingly (e.g., letting your co-chair know that you typically try and respond within 1-2 days or within a week, or that you typically respond on a certain day that you set aside for committee work, etc…)

  4. Stating your preferred modes of communication (e.g., email, virtual meeting, etc…)

In general, plan to copy your co-chair on all committee business including communications with your committee members, STS Council, and STS Executive members.

In general, try to balance the workload between the two co-chairs.

If possible, let your co-chair know if unexpected events come up in the year that might impact your ability to follow through on your STS commitments.

Communicating with your committee

STS committees should meet at least twice a year. Historically, these meetings happen in the winter (around January) and summer (around ALA Annual in June). Your committee may need to meet more often depending on your committee’s specific tasks, or may want to meet on a different schedule dictated by the committee’s responsibilities.

STS is committed to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all members and participants. At your first meeting, consider reviewing the ALA Virtual Meeting Code of Conduct as a way to frame what appropriate virtual conduct looks like. 

Also, at the first committee meeting, set expectations for committee members in terms of time and effort. Review the committee’s charge, corresponding tasks, and milestones for completing those tasks. Discuss preferred modes of communication for your committee. For example, will most of your work happen during synchronous meetings, or will the work be a combination of meetings and emails? Discuss expectations for timely responses and define what that means. 

Distribute links for any online file sharing platforms your committee uses or discuss how the committee wants to share files or other relevant information. 

As relevant for your committee, solicit volunteers for specific roles or tasks. 

Encourage committee members to engage with larger STS programming and initiatives and report out on any section or committee-specific information you learn at STS Council. 

Welcome new ideas from your committee members; bring these new ideas forward to Council as appropriate, and attribute your fellow committee members.

Communicating with STS Council

STS Council includes all of the committee and discussion group co-chairs (32 folks at present) plus STS Executive members (Chair, Past-Chair, Chair-Elect, Secretary, Publicity Officer, EDI Officer, and 2 Members-at-large). STS Council typically meets 2-4 times per year for a 1.5 hour meeting. 

Prior to Council, you’ll be asked to submit a brief report of any committee updates (e.g., “we have begun planning for our event at Annual” or “We had over 250 registrants for our STS program, and received very positive feedback.”) You’ll be asked to review these combined reports prior to Council, and come with any questions, feedback, new ideas, etc. The rest of the time will be spent on reports from ACRL and STS Executive committees, and discussing old and new business. 

You are on the STS-Council email list, which is comprised of all STS Council members.  Please feel empowered to contribute to any discussion we have on that list; you are an important leader in STS representing your committee and all other STS members.

Communicating with the STS Chair

If you have questions about your committee, please contact the STS Chair. Some example questions and issues are provided below:

  • Questions about your committee charge

  • Budgetary needs

  • Committee member needs to step down

  • You forgot to do something

  • An unexpected issue arose with your committee

  • Insight or perspective into committee work

In addition, please be prepared to share information with the STS Chair and Vice-Chair about future leaders you identify on your committee. The EDI task force has recognized one of its 13 priorities to “reconsider the recruitment, appointment, and nomination process for STS leadership roles such that we have a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive section”. That starts with you – identify and encourage future leaders. 


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Drafted by Hannah Gascho Rempel and Rachel Borchardt - Date April 1, 2021. Reviewed by EDI task force co-chairs - April 15, 2021. Reviewed by STS Exec in late April 2021. Reviewed by STS Council 1 during the June 2021 meeting.