Association Statement

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is an international organization of approximately 9,000 innovative information professionals and their strategic partners.

Introduction to the Procedures Manual

Participation in Chapter activities is a most gratifying aspect of membership in SLA. These Recommended Practices are intended to serve as a reference for Chapter Officers and other Chapter leaders in the development of Practices for their particular unit. Each Chapter is encouraged to customize its own Practices based on the model presented here. They contain valuable, “must-know” information on Chapter responsibilities, Association structure, policies and procedures. The Procedures delineate the responsibilities of key Chapter leaders and should aid in the understanding of the relationships among Chapter leaders, Association officers, and units.

Each Chapter should maintain approved Procedures that define in detail the responsibilities and duties of the individual Chapter officers, appointed positions and committee chairs, as appropriate for the Chapter.

Suggested additional content of a Chapter Procedures Manual:

  1. History and background of Chapter, including a list of past Chapter leaders.
  2. The addition or deletion of descriptions of committees chair and appointed positions, and their respective duties, as currently in practice.
  3. Detailed descriptions of existing Chapter programs (such as specific Awards, traditions, and annual meetings, etc.).
  4. Approved Chapter Policies (such as an Officer Travel Policy).
  5. Calendar of deadlines (such as leadership reports, elections, meeting notifications).
  6. Copy of Chapter Governing Documents.

A former Chapter President is often chosen to undertake the preparation and/or update the Procedures Manual available. It is important that outgoing Chapter leaders pass their copies of the manual to the incoming leaders as soon as election results are known.

The Chapter Leadership page (login required) of includes a Unit Recommended Practices document that containing additional information and suggestions for fulfilling the responsibilities of key Chapter leaders.

A copy of the Chapter’s most current Practices Manual must be sent to the Leadership Department at the Association Office. Suggestions for additions and revisions to these Recommended Practices should be forwarded to the Association Leadership Department at

Definition of Chapters

1. Relationship to Association

The creation of Chapters and their activities are carried on within the framework of the Association’s bylaws and policies as determined by the Association’s Board of Directors. The Association receives direct impetus in many of its professional activities from the work and support of the Chapters. In turn, Chapters receive the benefits of an international body that fosters inter-Chapter cooperation and collectively promotes the advancement of special librarianship and information services.
Chapters exist to serve their members’ special interests and the interests of the Association by planning meetings and programs, issuing publications (such as bulletins and/or newsletters), maintaining online discussion lists and web sites, and engaging in special projects (such as organizing professional institutes or seminars and cooperating with other library and professional groups in their respective geographic area).

All Chapter officers and leaders must be members of the Association and members of the Chapter.

2. Relationship to Chapter Cabinet

The Chapter Cabinet consists of all SLA Chapter Presidents and Presidents-Elect.  If the President or President-Elect is unable to attend a meeting of the Chapter Cabinet, the Chapter President may assign a delegate to attend the meeting.  The Chapter Cabinet represents Chapter interests on all matters considered by the Board of Directors or acted upon by the Association staff and committees, and the Chapter Cabinet keeps the Chapters informed of all decisions and policies affecting them. The Chapter Cabinet is headed by the Cabinet Chair and Chair-Elect, elected by the SLA membership to the Board of Directors.

The Chapter Cabinet shall hold at least one regular meeting. If there is only one meeting, it shall be held during the Association’s annual conference. Special meetings may be held upon call of the Chair or upon written request of 15 members of the Chapter Cabinet. Joint sessions with the Division Cabinet may be requested by the Chapter Cabinet Chair or the Association President. Meetings of the Chapter Cabinet shall be open to all Association members.

Nominations of Officers and Nominations Committee

[See also Chapter Bylaws]

In the selection of nominees for Association offices, the Association Nominating Committee has priority over Division, Chapter or section nominating committees. However, the Association Nominating Committee usually starts its work before the Division, Chapter and section nominating committees; therefore, conflicts are rare. The Association slate of candidates is determined during the quarter of the year and presented to the Board of Directors no later than its first meeting during Annual Conference.

A Nominating Committee for each election of members to the executive board shall be appointed by the board no later than 120 days prior to the Chapter annual business meeting. This committee shall be composed of 3 members, no more than one of whom is a member of the current board but at least one of whom shall be a [former Chapter officer (such as past past president, or member of the previous Nominating Committee].

Duties of the Nominating Committee are outlined below:

Each year the Nominating Committee shall present at least one candidate for each officer whose term is expiring. The committee shall obtain the written acceptance of each nominee along with brief biographical information, prior to submission of its report.

The nominees for President-Elect should be aware that attendance at Chapter Cabinet meetings at the Association Leadership Summit and at the Annual Conference are part of the responsibilities of the elected candidate. An elected candidate should not simultaneously hold more than one office associated with membership in the Chapter and Division Cabinets.

The report of the Nominating Committee shall be published in the official Chapter bulletin or otherwise sent to Chapter members at least 45 days before the Chapter annual business meeting. Further nominations, accompanied by written acceptance of the nominee, may be entered by petition of 10 Chapter members, and shall be filed with the Nominating Committee at least 30 days before the annual business meeting.

If the slate includes more than one candidate for any office, election shall be by secret ballot distributed to each Chapter member 45 days before the Chapter annual business meeting. (Electronic balloting is acceptable.) The candidate who receives the largest number of votes for any office shall be elected. In the event of a tie, election shall be by majority vote of the members present at the annual business meeting.

In the case of a distributed ballot, send the biographical information to the person whose duty it is to prepare and distribute the ballots (e.g. Secretary, Nominating Committee Chair or Bulletin Editor.)  Full Members, Student Members, and Retired Members all have the privilege of voting. Mailing labels for envelopes and/or e-mails may be requested from the Association office. Please request these at least one week in advance of distribution.

Overview of Executive Board

The Executive Board is comprised of the elected officers of the Chapter (President, President-Elect, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, Communications Director, and regional directors. Only elected officers may vote on matters of the Chapter. The Executive Board is required to hold a minimum of one meeting annually. Western Canada Chapter’s practice is to hold full Executive and Advisory board meetings at two month intervals:

  • Late January/early February
  • April
  • June
  • September/early October
  • Annual General Meeting – late November/early December

Additional meetings may be held by call of the President, or upon request of another board member. A majority of board members in office shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Board. The President may call a separate Executive Board meeting if necessary, such as in the case of the resignation of an officer.

The duties of the Executive Board are as follows:

  • To approve amendments to the Chapter’s Governing Documents before presentation to the Advisory Board and Chapter membership.
  • To approve contracts and agreements entered into by the Chapter.
  • To appoint a Nominating Committee for the election of members to the Board.
  • To appoint a successor in case of the resignation of any officer except the President. The President-Elect automatically succeeds as President if the President resigns. The Executive Board then appoints a new President-Elect.
  • To be responsible for all additional duties assigned to the Advisory Board.


As a practice, Boards are encouraged to have conference calls and meetings that include the full Board, in which they discuss topics and reach consensus. U.S. Federal law and liability concerns require that voting be restricted to members of the Executive Board. Advisory Board/Council members (hereinto referred to as Advisory Board) should certainly provide input and recommendations, and there should be opportunities to hear from all sides, but Advisory board members cannot have voting rights that could, in effect, override the vote of elected board members.

Electronic Voting

As SLA chapters are not separately incorporated but rather are merely subdivisions of a single legal entity — SLA, a New York not-for-profit corporation — their Boards and memberships are not governed by the requirements and restrictions contained in the New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law relating to voting and other governance matters.  Only SLA’s Board of Directors, certain committees of the SLA Board, and SLA’s membership (when voting as an entire membership) are governed by these requirements and restrictions.  Consequently, SLA’s chapters and divisions are free to institute whatever governance procedures they choose, including all forms of electronic voting.

Leadership Code of Responsibility

The role of leaders in SLA is to advance opportunities for members to share in and accomplish the Vision and Mission of the Association. To ensure that outcome, leaders shall respect and adhere to the code that identifies SLA Leadership’s responsibility and accountability to the Association and its members. Leadership is defined as the leaders and members of the Board of Directors, Association Committees and Task Forces, as well as the voting members of Chapter Executive and Advisory Boards, and Caucus Conveners. Chapter leaders shall read and sign The Leadership Code of Responsibility at the beginning of their terms.

Overview of Chapter Practices for Advisory Board/Council and Chapter Committees

The Chapter Advisory Board consists of all appointed Chapter leaders and Committee Chairs and has the following duties:

  • Reviews and recommends to the Executive Board approval of the Chapter budget prepared by President, President-Elect and Treasurer.
  • Reviews and recommends to the Executive Board approval of preliminary program plans and special projects and the authorization of funds to implement them.
  • Hears reports of appointed positions and committee chairs and takes appropriate action on recommendations.
  • Prepares report of activities for each Board meeting held.

The Chapter President-Elect appoints chairs of Chapter committees. The Chapter President may appoint Chapter members to additional positions. The committee chair may appoint committee members and advises the Chapter President of the names. The Chapter Governing Document prohibits any member from serving on a committee for more than six consecutive years.

The Advisory Board assists the Executive Board in directing the activities of the Chapter, and members are expected to attend all Board meetings. The Western Canada Chapter seeks a consensus from the Advisory Board in all matters. If consensus is not achieved, the Advisory Board should make opinions known to the Executive Board who will then vote.

General duties

The following applies to all committee chair positions:

  • Copies of all correspondence that binds, or may bind, SLA or the Chapter must be immediately sent to the Secretary.
  • Submit activity reports to all members of the Chapter Board prior to Board meetings
  • Present an annual report summarizing activities to Chapter Board and President prior to Chapter Annual Business Meeting
  • Attend all Board meetings in person or by teleconference


  • Submit to the Treasurer requests for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenditures with receipts and brief statements concerning the nature of the expenditures.

Skills Checklist for Board and Committee Members

Skills you may acquire through Board activities

  • Management and/or leadership experience
  • Public speaking experience
  • Experience recruiting volunteers
  • Strong communication skills
  • Knows and is respected by many Chapter members and able to tap volunteers
  • Good coaching/mentoring skills to help bring the next generation of leaders along
  • Varied background & can generate program ideas of interest to the membership
  • Able to attend all Chapter and Board meetings

Skills important for President-Elect & President positions

  • Has been a member of the Chapter for at least three years
  • Served on the Chapter Board in another capacity for at least one year
  • Has support of employer to make phone calls during the workday
  • Able to attend Annual Conference and Winter Meeting
  • Can sustain level of commitment over an extended period
  • Able to ‘hit the ground running’ after the Annual Conference, to meet necessary timelines

Last updated March 21, 2011
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