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University Libraries Section (ULS): About Our Discussion Groups

Convener responsibilities

You may be an individual convener or coconvener for a discussion group. Discussion group conveners are responsible for planning in-person or virtual discussion group meetings at or around the ALA Conferences.

Getting started

Following your appointment as a convener, attend the ULS Executive Committee meeting and your discussion group's meeting. Find out what projects the ACRL Board or ULS Chair are prioritizing for the coming year and start thinking about how your discussion group could contribute.

Talk with the outgoing convener(s) early on and read the discussion group's annual report from the previous year. If you are new to the discussion group, find out what topics were recently discussed, how they went, and any advice they have for you. Confirm the discussion group information included in this LibGuide is still accurate.

Soon after your term begins in July, get in touch with your discussion group:

  • Sign into the ACRL website to find out your coconvener and/or members' official e-mail addresses.
  • E-mail everyone to introduce yourself and have them introduce themselves to each other.

Participating in the ULS Executive Committee

As a discussion group convener, you are also a member of the ULS Executive Committee. In this role, you will participate in the following:

  • E-mail discussions via the ULS Executive Committee e-mail list
  • The virtual ULS Executive Committee meetings around ALA Conferences

To be most effective, take advantage of mentoring from previous discussion group conveners and ULS Executive Committee members. Be engaged by taking initiative, asking questions, and suggesting ideas.

Scheduling discussions

You are required to host two discussion groups per year at or around the time of ALA Conferences. You can host additional events between conferences, as well, if you like.

If you meet virtually between conferences, do so in whatever way is most convenient: conference call, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, Zoom, etc. You can also request to schedule an Adobe Connect/WebEx space through ACRL for more formal online discussions. See ACRL policies.

Planning and promoting discussions

Find out if a topic was proposed at a previous discussion. If so, you can run with this topic. For other ideas, you may want to try the following approaches:

  • Generate ideas among discussion group conveners and members (via e-mail or online meetings).
  • Send out a call for ideas to the entire ULS community via our e-mail list and the ULS blog.
  • Send out a call on ULS and other relevant e-mail lists to get proposals to present a topic and lead a discussion, optionally followed by a convener-led group discussion.
  • Contact other ACRL discussion groups to inquire about their plans and, if appropriate, propose cosponsoring a discussion (this can draw more people).

Publicize the discussion several weeks before. Post to the ULS e-mail list and the ULS Executive Committee list. To share it on the ULS blog and social media, fill out the promotion request form. This form is routed to the ULS Communications Committee that manages those channels.

Assign a discussion group convener or member to capture notes during the discussion.

Running discussions

  • Show up early to check the technology, welcome the speakers, and make sure you have a notetaker.
  • If you are facilitating an open discussion, keep the group on topic and on time.
  • Count how many people attend.

Following up after discussions

Clean up notes that were taken and send the meeting summary to the ULS chair and ACRL staff liaison Lauren Carlton within two weeks of the discussion.

Generally, the ULS chair will ask for a report at the end of the year (soon after ALA Annual). This should include discussion recaps along with any challenges you had.

As your term is ending, get in touch with your successor and make their life easier:

  • Update information in this LibGuide if it's out of date. 
  • Provide a summary of discussion group activities during your term.
  • Give them all necessary materials to take over.
  • Offer support and advice during their term.

Changing content on your LibGuide

Email the current ULS Procedures Committee chair with your email address, the page name and website address, and the desired changes, and those changes will be made for you.