As we are all painfully aware, the economic situation has brought drastic cuts to institutional travel budgets. With that in mind, ACRL is encouraging its sections to consider virtual meetings in lieu of face-to-face participation at the 2010 Midwinter Meeting in Boston. We took an informal poll at Arts’s General Membership meeting at Annual in Chicago, and very few of the 18 members in attendance indicated that they were planning to attend Midwinter. Many of these people are committee chairs. So on behalf of the Executive Committee I’m opening a discussion here of the desirability and feasibility of holding our Midwinter meetings virtually. We’d also like to hear from other members about their plans or lack of plans for attending Midwinter.
ACRL has an FAQ for Virtual Meetings which you can find on the website at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/resources/tipsheets/virtualfaq.cfm. Here’s the critical information for this discussion:
- Section committees are not required to meet face-to-face at Midwinter but may conduct synchronous virtual meetings instead.
- Section members involved with the following meetings are expected to attend Midwinter face-to-face: Leader Development & Strategic Planning, Communities of Practice Assembly, ACRL Conference Program Planning Committee Chairs, and ACRL Membership Committee Chairs. (Translation: our Chair, Vice Chair, Past Chair, and the chairs of 2010 and 2011 Program Planning and Membership & Outreach).
- A discussion group may opt to conduct a synchronous virtual discussion at Midwinter, or not hold a discussion at all, instead of meeting face-to-face.
ALA recently launched ALA Connect as a platform for committees and other groups to conduct their work virtually. It includes a chat function that can be used for synchronous virtual meetings. You’ll find it at http://connect.ala.org/ if you’d like to have a look.
The Executive Committee must reach a decision about Midwinter by the end of September in order to submit our meeting space requests for the conference by the deadline.
I’d like to suggest that our two discussion groups discuss and decide this issue independently. Both groups typically attract attendees at conferences who aren’t otherwise active in the Section, and if the conveners are able to attend the conference I see no reason not to hold face-to-face discussions even if the Section’s other meetings will be virtual. If this is agreeable I’ll need the conveners’ decisions by September 30.
The membership voted at Annual to conduct a Virtual Discussion Forum for the upcoming Midwinter, and the Publications & Research Committee is exploring options for this. So that leaves the All-Committees Meeting and the Executive/General Membership meeting central to this discussion. It’s tempting to suggest that we hold both meetings entirely virtually, but there are other possibilities, and I’d very much like to have your thoughts. I’m particularly eager to hear from committee members but I’d like to hear from all Arts members. Were you hoping to attend Midwinter? Will you be attending? Are you more likely to be active in Arts if Midwinter meetings are virtual?
For my part, I feel obligated to attend the ACRL leadership meetings held on Friday, but I’m quite comfortable with conducting All-Committees and Executive/General Membership virtually and only spending a day or two in Boston. But that’s me. What are your thoughts???
(Remember: this discussion must be concluded before September 30.) Thanks for your input,
Chair, Arts Section, ACRL