ACRL Arts Section Blog

August 26, 2009

Arts Meetings at Midwinter 2010…Virtual?…Please Discuss…

Filed under: Announcements,Executive Committee,Virtual Midwinter — billhemmig @ 3:11 pm

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  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 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,


William Hemmig
Chair, Arts Section, ACRL


  1. I am in support of virtual meetings.

    Comment by Kimberley Bugg — August 26, 2009 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks, Bill, for raising this question. I’ve been thinking about skipping MW. Knowing that I could participate virtually in Arts meetings would be a huge plus.

    Comment by Laurel Bliss — August 26, 2009 @ 3:57 pm | Reply

  3. I am a virtual member anyway, so travel to conferences (Midwinter and Annual) was never a possibility for me. Virtual meetings would be a nice compromise.

    Comment by Liza Palmer — August 26, 2009 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  4. A virtual meeting would make my attendance likely, instead of unlikely. However, that doesn’t mean I’d attend a “virtual conference” with a significant registration rate.

    Comment by Marc Gartler — August 26, 2009 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for bringing that up, Marc. There is no registration fee involved in conducting Section business virtually. I don’t think ALA is offering a Virtual Midwinter, but if they were it wouldn’t be necessary to register for it in order to attend virtual Section meetings.

    Comment by hemmig — August 27, 2009 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  6. Bill,

    the issue with a synchronous meeting scheduled during the Boston conference is that individuals attending in Boston generally won’t have access to the web and/or computer. Other committees I am involved with are having “virtual meetings” either a week before or a week after the Boston conference. I am attending the Boston conference, but certainly understand how costs make attendance difficult for most (including myself!).

    Comment by Joe Clark — August 27, 2009 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  7. Thanks, Joe. Timing is definitely a concern, but as you note we’re not restricted to the conference dates as long as the minutes are delivered to ACRL by the deadline. My thinking is that if we do opt for virtual meetings the individual committees would meet at whatever times are best for them, prior to the conference dates. The Executive & General Membership meeting could then be held shortly after the conference so that the committee chairs can report. Other ideas are welcome.

    Comment by hemmig — August 27, 2009 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  8. I wholeheartedly support and would participate in virtual ARTs committee meetings. I won’t be attending Midwinter in Jan. 2010.
    Thanks for asking.

    Comment by Jennifer Mayer — August 27, 2009 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

  9. Since I am now not on any committee, I will not be attending Midwinter. I would though support the virtual/synchronous meeting concepts and I think it’s actually about time. This may already exist, but I would like to also know how to do this and see some guidelines on how to conduct one of thse meetings. For example, are they all just back and forth emails or are there chat/real time options? Two cents worth from an old-timer.

    Comment by Roland C. Hansen — August 27, 2009 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Roland. ACRL’s policies and guidelines for virtual meetings are in their FAQ for Virtual Meetings (link in my original post, above). ACRL does not consider back-and-forth emails to qualify as virtual meetings, which they insist must be synchronous. Real-time chat is appropriate, and ALA Connect includes a chat platform. There are also other free virtual meeting tools like Skype and Second Life which are cool with ACRL as well. The important thing is that the meetings be synchronous and that minutes be submitted.

    Comment by hemmig — August 28, 2009 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  11. Bill: As I mentioned when we discussed this in our Sunday meeting in Chicago, Midwinter Boston is out for me, one of the few Midwinters I will miss in the many years I’ve been involved in ALA/ACRL. Like so many others, funding is the main issue. I think moving, at least for Boston, to virtual meetings would be the logical way to go (it will be interesting to see what the on-site numbers for Boston end up being). The 2010 conference program planning committee can certainly do its work virtually, and if I recall from Chicago, none of us were expecting to be in Boston anyway.


    Comment by Eric A. Kidwell — August 28, 2009 @ 9:23 am | Reply

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