If I’m chair of a committee, shouldn’t I get to wear a hat? I know being Madame President gets you a large hat with lots of fabric roses and gauze, I’m just looking for something with a couple of ribbons and bows: tasteful and modest but still noticeable.

One of the major things that I did at ALA Annual this year was take over as chair of the Program Planning Committee for the Library Information Technology Association (LITA-PPC). I’ve heard from a lot of people that they would enjoy more transparency about committees and such. While I can’t speak too much to how other people are doing it, I can give you my view from the inside.

I’ve been a member of LITA-PPC for two years already, working under two very progressive chairs (Jason Griffey and Ranti Junus). I signed on with the clear understanding that, as  committee member, I wouldn’t be able to go to Midwinter.  During my first Midwinter on the committee I was in Egypt, so I couldn’t even phone in to that meeting, but I felt comfortable and confident from the work we’d done in our fall phone calls and emails.  A lot has changed in the past five-ten years. We don’t require all of our presenters to also appear before us at Midwinter to tell us how they are doing, as used to be the case.  Now that I’m chair, Midwinter isn’t optional, but hey–I’ve never been to Dallas (2012) or Seattle (2013). Telling my committee members that I wasn’t about to require that they come was the one of the first things out of my mouth during our meeting in New Orleans.  I was invited to become chair by the Vice-President of LITA at the recommendation of my previous chairs.

My committee is tasked with organizing and shepherding conference programs for the Annual meetings.  I’m working with twelve committee members,  the liaison(s) to the LITA Forum planning committee, a LITA Board liaison, and 2-3 ALA staff liaisons.  I’ve got a really good group to work with and, so far, everyone has chimed in and been very responsive on the private listserv that we use for communication.  In theory we’re supposed to be doing more on ALA Connect. In practice, it’s hard to make people (me included) remember to go and sign in to yet another site every day or week. The listserv pushes to us and with threaded email conversations most of it is pretty easy to follow.

Call for proposals went out today. I’ve been editing the form that we used last year, getting committee feedback (the Warmaiden is excellent for that!), trying to come up with some ideas to jumpstart proposers, and so on. Hitting send today made it live and out into the world and really kicks our work off.

Now we’ll accept program proposals from all various and sundry groups and individuals. What I like about LITA-PPC is that a program doesn’t have to be supported by an IG or another committee for us to consider it. It opens the possibility of getting suggestions from individuals who may not have the time or wading abilities to get thru the various structures.

Once the program proposals are in, each committee member will go through the proposals, scoring and commenting.  I’ll tally this and then we’ll have a meeting (thank you Skype!) to discuss what we’ve received. At that point we’ll ask for any clarification or combination that we feel is necessary.  We’ll re-discuss those programs with questions and make the final yay and nay.

And that only takes me to early September.  We’ll worry about what happens after that a little closer to date.

Something new that we’re doing is a collaboration with the Learning Round Table (LearnRT).  This came out of a recording session of T is for Training at ALA. While sitting with Maurice Coleman and the others, we were talking about what was working or not working for us in the sessions we had attended. The idea arose that it would be nice to have a way for presenters to get feedback about their presentation and a critical eye BEFORE ALA, in hopes that fewer attendees would doze off, sneak out, or start playing on Facebook.  We took the collaboration back to our respective groups and LITA-PPC is the test subject for this. We’ll see how many presenters take us up on this.

So tell me, what would you like to know about my committee work, being chair, and all that? Is there something not clear?

If you’re interested in submitting a proposal, please fill out the form here.