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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 discussion group meetings for ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual.

Getting started

Try to attend the ALA Annual right before your term as convener begins. During the conference, 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. 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.
  • Confirm that coconveners will attend ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual in person.

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 meeting around ALA Midwinter
  • The in-person ULS Executive Committee meeting at ALA Annual

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 have two in-person meetings per year: one at ALA Annual and one at ALA Midwinter. You can have online meetings between conferences if you like.

About six months before ALA Midwinter and Annual, the ULS chair will send out an e-mail asking about scheduling your in-person meetings, including room setup and technology requests. Requests are usually just replicated from the previous year, but as convener you can make changes. Be responsive to the chair and the instructions in the e-mail.

If you meet virtually between conferences, do so in whatever way is most convenient: conference call, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, Skype, 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 the conference. 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 at least ten minutes early to check on the room setup, 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 Megan Griffin within two weeks of the conference.

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. See Using LibGuides.
  • 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.