Working With Your Committee

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Making things happen

  • The chair is responsible for guiding the committee through its work - If you don’t act, neither does the committee!

Planning the committee’s year

  • Talk to the outgoing chair about the year’s major events and ongoing work/issues.

  • Consult with your Board liaison as you plan your work for the year.

  • If you have a co-chair or vice-chair work closely with her/him in planning the committee’s work.

  • Review the committee’s charge.

  • Discuss with your members how your committee’s work can support the major tenets of the Association’s Strategic Directions: Leadership, Education, Advocacy.

Some committees have clear tasks, such as selecting scholarship or grant recipients or planning the annual meeting programs. Others have charges which are more general, such as assisting court and state agencies in advancing electronic access to public information or encouraging students to enter the field of law librarianship.

For those that have more nebulous charges, you’ll need to work with your committee to identify more specific goals and strategies to meet them. Remember that your Board liaison is there to help you strategize and plan for the year.

Plan an agenda for your meeting and distribute it and a copy of the committee’s charge, to your committee prior to the meeting, along with a list of the committee members’ names and contact information. This will allow your members time to prepare for the meeting.

Involve your members!

  • Your role as the chair is to organize the work and see that it gets done - not to do it all!

  • Include all members in discussions about the year’s activities. Ask your committee members to let you know if they’ll be attending the meeting; if they’re not attending,

    • Speak with them prior to the meeting to discuss possible assignments or interests
    • Divide tasks and ask for volunteers
    • Be sure everyone has an assignment.
  • Committee members often complain that they were willing to work but were never asked to do anything.
    • As soon as possible after each meeting, follow-up with your members and

      • Summarize the decisions that were made
      • List assignments and due dates!
      • Communicate often with your members throughout the year to check on their progress. Use the committee’s discussion list and encourage the members to post to the list.

    • Set "target dates" to help get things done on time.

    • Consider using a monthly update email or a web page status report to keep track of activities.

    • Hold "meetings" by email, conference call, web etc. if they will facilitate the committee’s work. If you’d like to schedule a conference call, please contact your Staff Liaison.

    • Don’t make decisions without your members! Send them draft reports for comment and solicit their opinions on major issues. Occasionally the chair may have to respond to something quickly and there’s no time for comment – in that case inform your committee as soon as possible and explain the reasons for your actions.