AALL Membership and Caucus Issues to be Considered by Board #AALL11

Nearly lost among the online discussion of the antitrust policy proposal are two other issues before the AALL executive board.  The board will consider passing a resolution instructing the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee to revisit the membership categories provided in that governing document. Specifically, the committee is requested to

• review membership categories of similar associations
• draft proposed bylaws to revise membership categories of the current Bylaws
(Section IV. Membership)
• review the rights of members section of the Bylaws (Section IV. 2. Rights of
• review the Chapters section of the Bylaws regarding compliance with AALL
Bylaws (Section XI. Chapters) and make a recommendation as to whether this
should be a requirement placed on Chapters.

I hope that incoming committee chair Maryruth Storer will offer ample opportunity for member input as her committee undertakes this task.

The board is also planning to discuss a proposal to create policies on the creation of caucuses, a topic which is only briefly mentioned in the bylaws.  The proposal, first presented in a report from 2007 but not adopted then, would set specific requirements for caucus formation.  The 2007 report is set out in full below:

1. That the AALLNET Caucus Registration Form incorporates the following language:
Because Caucuses exist to benefit AALL members through the use of certain
AALL resources, such as AALLNET, CPE funds, meeting space and other
assets, the Executive Board must approve applications for Caucus status.
“Informal groups” may not use AALL resources without Board approval.
Caucus status likely will be granted to membership groups that share one or
more of the following traits:
1. Shared background of members (e.g., Black Caucus of the
American Association of Law Libraries)
2. Shared work environments (e.g., Federal Law Librarians Caucus)
3. Shared professional interests (e.g., Document Delivery Caucus)
4. Those that arose from the work of an AALL Special Committee (e.g.,
the Publishing Initiatives Caucus)
The proposed Caucus must demonstrate how the group’s objectives will
further the objectives of the Association (e.g., by networking among
colleagues who have the same ethnicity, age, work environment or similar
professional interests, Caucus members will be better able to share
experiences that will assist them in becoming better law librarians). While
there is no set number of members that a group must have in order to be
granted Caucus status, the Board may consider whether the proposed number
of initial members would be sufficient to carry out the Caucus’s objectives.
The final decision regarding the application of Caucus status is at the
discretion of the Board.
To apply for Caucus status, complete the following form to send to the Board
for its next scheduled meeting. A Board Member will notify you following the
2. That the SIS Handbook and this page in the SIS section of AALLNET
(http://www.aallnet.org/sis/organization.asp) be modified at the next available
opportunity by the SIS Council Chair to conform to the above-stated principles.
3. That the Board convene a meeting of Caucus Chairs at the next Annual Meeting to
determine the suitability of creating additional accountability requirements for
Caucuses. Discussion should consider the following:
1. The need for annual reporting mechanisms for Board oversight, such as
short annual reports to be archived on AALLNET.
2. The creation of mission or purpose statements for existing Caucuses.
3. The desirability of creating a Board Liaison for Caucus Chairs.
4. The creation of additional training for Caucus Chairs at the Annual
5. The clarification of existing roles, guidelines and responsibilities.

A quick analysis of the eleven extant caucuses shows that four are based on shared demographic characteristics of the members,  two on interest in substantive areas of law (Native Peoples and Animal Law), two  related to type of institution where employed (federal law libraries and library/information schools), one on specific activity common to various occupations (document delivery), and two that don’t neatly fit into the prior categories, Empirical Research Librarians and Publishing Initiatives.

Based on President Joyce Janto’s remarks that the board’s consideration of a caucus policy is rekindled by an application to form a new caucus, some have presumed that the application from a group wanting to form the Consumer Advocacy Caucus is the moving event.  I won’t get into arguing for or against any specific application here (though I will state for the record that I would join such a caucus if it is created), but I will urge the board that if it adopts a policy, any requirement should be very liberal, and that perhaps an expression of interest by prospective members, somewhat akin to the requirements to form a section in AALS, should be more determinative of membership interest than any arbitrary definition of how it is related to advancing the aims of the association.

It would appear that the executive board will have a busy day tomorrow.

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