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George A. Smathers Libraries: Guidelines for Ad Hoc Committees and Task Forces

I. Policy:

As special issues needing discussion/recommendation are identified at some level of the organization (Director's Group, LMG, division management groups, etc.), the matter will be referred to the appropriate director to draft a charge and appoint an ad hoc group. While it is understood that committee decisions are not generally binding to the libraries, it is assumed that individuals are appointed to the committees because of their expertise and a respect for their collective judgment. In order to maintain the integrity of the process, it is critical that the rationale for decisions which are substantively different from committee recommendations be clearly communicated to members of the committee and LMG. Following are guidelines for establishing committees and communicating the results of their activities throughout the libraries:

II. Date: December 8, 1989

III. Attachments:

  1. Sample Committee/Task Force Appointment Letter
  2. Sample Committee/Task Force Charge
IV. Note: The following guidelines do not apply to Search Committees or the Tenure and Promotion Committee.

V. Procedure:

  1. The appropriate director will draft a committee charge. In drafting a charge, input will be solicited by the writer to insure that the charge is as clear and comprehensive as possible.
    1. Each charge should include the purpose of the group (issues it is to address, etc.), timelines (date preliminary report due for review/comment, final report due date, anticipated decision date), and committee role in the decision (i.e. advisory or decision-making.)
    2. If the committee is not empowered to make decisions, the person or group who will make decisions regarding committee recommendations will be identified.
  2. The appropriate director attempts to form committees that include members from appropriate areas of the library as the particular issue requires. However, the group should rarely be more than 5-6 people, even if relevant units are not specifically represented. To encourage wide staff participation, a conscious effort to involve many staff from USPS, A&P, and librarian classifications should be made.
    1. An appointment and the charge should be sent to each committee member and to all members of LMG (so that there will be an awareness of issues being focused on throughout the libraries, and an opportunity for LMG members to have their name placed on a committee mailing list.) The LMG member will also assure that the immediate supervisor of any person from their area who has been appointed to the committee is informed of this assignment. The letter will include as a standard instruction a need for each individual to think of the particular issue in broad terms and to involve others from throughout the libraries as needed to effectively carry out their assignment. It will also refer committee members to these guidelines to insure consistency in communicating their activities.
    2. The director appointing the committee or task force should meet with the committee at its initial session to clarify the charge. Any significant changes in the charge at this (or any other) time should result in a revised charge statement which will be sent to all members of LMG. Clarification of elements of the charge will be communicated through inclusion in the committee minutes.
    3. Minutes will be taken and promptly distributed following the meeting to committee members, the appropriate director, and any LMG member who requests that they be placed on the mailing list. Included will be the preliminary agenda for the next meeting. An up-to-date central file of committee members will also be maintained in the Library Office for review by interested staff. If relevant, these minutes will be posted in affected departments by LMG members who have requested that they be included in the mailing list. NOTE: Minutes should be a brief summary of action taken at the meeting rather than a detailed accounting of all that was said. Important motions, decisions, assignments, etc. should be included. Distribution of each meeting's summary promptly after its conclusion will greatly enhance the library-wide communication process.
    4. As meetings are held, it is the Chair's responsibility to continually ask, "what impact will this have throughout the library?", "who else needs to be consulted?", or "who needs to know what is being discussed/proposed?", and to arrange appropriate involvement. Committee members should continually be reminded that they are to think in these broad terms as well.
  3. As committees progress with their work, it may be appropriate for the Chair or the group as a whole to meet with the appointing director to determine any changes in the course, etc. before final recommendations are made. These meetings can be at the initiative of either the committee or the appropriate director. Changes in or clarification of the committee charge or scope of activity should be widely communicated as described in #4 above.
  4. By a date established in the charge, a preliminary written report should be submitted for review and comment by interested individuals. Existence of the preliminary report should be communicated to members of the LMG. Following the two week (?) review period, the committee will write and submit the final report to the appropriate director. An initial page summarizing recommendations should be attached. If further areas of study are identified by the group, but are not deemed to be included in the charge, these should be listed at the end of the report.
    1. The following guidelines are also essential to the process:
      1. No report should ever be issued as a product of the whole committee unless all members are in substantial agreement.
      2. If such consensus cannot be reached, the committee will produce a majority report, and as many minority reports as necessary.
      3. All members will either sign the majority report, or an appropriate minority report.
      4. No report should ever be issued by the committee until its final form has been reviewed by all committee members.
    2. Following submission of the committee report, the appropriate director should report back to the group by the tentative decision date included in the charge (if the decision is being made by directors, LMG, etc.) If a decision has not been made by that date, the committee should be informed then of a new projected decision date. The process will continue until a decision has been made and communicated.
  5. When the committee's recommendations are accepted, the appointing director will send a letter to all committee members (with a copy to LMG members) thanking individuals for their work. When recommendations are not fully accepted, the appointing director should meet with the committee to explain the rationale for different decisions, describe anticipated delays in implementing decisions, etc. A letter of thanks will then be sent (as above) to officially end the existence of the committee.
  6. When decisions are made concerning recommendations, all LMG will be notified that a copy of the report with any additional comments/rationale for decisions will be maintained in a central file in the Library Office for checkout and consultation.
VI. Responsibility:
  1. Appropriate division directors are responsible for implementing and maintaining this procedure.
  2. In order to alert staff members regularly about work being conducted in the Libraries by various committees, all active committees will be listed on LIBNEWS by the appropriate director.

Sample Committee/Task Force Appointment Letter

Date: (Appointing Date)

To: (Committee Members)

From: (Appointing Director)

Subject: (Committee Task/Force Charge)

Thank you for agreeing to serve as a member of the (committee/task force name). Attached is a copy of the committee charge which I will discuss with you at the first committee meeting. If you have any questions about the assignment, I hope we will be able to clarify them at that time. I am asking that the committee complete its work no later than (date).

As you proceed in your deliberations, please keep in mind the importance of thinking about the issues in broad terms as they might affect other library units and the larger university community. Since library activities are more interrelated than ever, do not hesitate to involve other staff members in your work as it seems appropriate. This will insure that recommendations are made with the benefit of information received from affected areas.

In order to keep library staff informed about the work of your committee, and to insure that your work is completed in an efficient and effective manner, please review the Guidelines for Ad Hoc Committees/Task Forces in the Policy and Procedure Manual (A-6).

Once again, thank you for agreeing to be a member of this committee

Sample Committee/Task Force Charge

Name: (committee/task force name)

Members: (committee/task force members, chair first)

Description of Responsibilities: (describe responsibilities an expectations)

Final Report Due Date: (date final report is due, and to whom)

Committee Role:  (state whether advisory or decision making)

Recommended Decision Authority:   (if other than the committee)

Anticipated Date of Decision Concerning the Committee Recommendation:   (if the committee is not empowered to make the decision)

Minutes:   (Minutes are to be kept and promptly distributed following each meeting to all committee members, the appointing director and any LMG member who has requested to be placed on the mailing list. A copy will be kept in a central file in the Library Administrative Office for review by interested staff. Minutes should be a brief summary of action taken at a meeting rather than a detailed accounting of what was said. Important motions, decisions, assignments, etc. should be included).

Meeting Agenda: (A preliminary agenda for the next meeting will be circulated with the minutes).


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