Policies Governing Caucuses, Domain Hubs, and Community

Medical Library Association Board of Directors Policies Governing Caucuses, and Community Council

Approved by the Board of Directors on July 22, 2019Effective September 1, 2019

Revised July 2023Effective June 1, 2024


1. Purpose

2. Definitions

2.1. Association

2.2. Caucus

2.3. Community Council

3. Diversity and Inclusion Statement

4. Organizational Overview

4.1. Governance

4.2. Collaboration, Content, Programming, and Communication

5. Caucus

5.1. Caucus Definition

5.2. Caucus Membership

5.3. Caucus Minimum Requirements

5.4. Caucus Optional Features

5.5. Governance Hierarchy

5.6. Caucus Activities

5.7. Caucus Leadership Positions and Roles

5.8. Caucus Finances

5.9. Caucus Meetings

5.10. Caucus Elections

5.11. Caucus Leadership Vacancies

5.12. Archiving, Transfer of Leadership

5.13. Caucus Creation, Modification, and Dissolution

5.13.1. Caucus Purpose and Scope

5.13.2. Caucus Name

5.13.3. Caucus Creation

5.13.4. Caucus Dissolution

6. Community Council

6.1. Community Council Definition

6.2. Community Council Membership

6.3. Community Council Roles

6.4. Voting

6.5. Vacancies

6.6. Community Council Chair

6.7. Caucus Governance

6.8. Nominations to the MLA Nominating Committee

6.8.1. Selection of Candidates by Caucuses

6.8.2. Restrictions

6.8.3. Selection of Candidates by Council

6.8.4. Election Results

6.9. Community Council Meetings

6.10. Community Council Reports

6.11. Archiving, Transfer of Leadership

7. Calendar


1. Purpose

Governing policies are established by the Medical Library Association (MLA) Board of Directors to define guidance regarding how to enable the work of the association. The policies fit into a consistent hierarchy of compliance, under the MLA Bylaws.

This document covers the governing of:

  • a caucus, which is a substitute name for a “section” with regard to the MLA Bylaws
  • the Community Council, which is a substitute name for “Section Council” with regard to MLA Bylaws

The terms “caucus” and “Community Council” are working names that can be used in lieu of “section” and “Section Council,” respectively, except when used in formal association documents such as the MLA Bylaws, annual reports, and minutes of the Board of Directors and of the Section Council. Those nomenclature changes will be addressed in a future MLA Bylaws revision.

These revisions were approved by the Board of Directors on July xx, 2019, and will take effect on .

2. Definitions

2.1. Association

The term “association” refers to MLA.

The term “association member” refers to MLA members as defined in the MLA Bylaws.

The term “association year” refers to the time period between two MLA annual meetings.

2.2. Caucus

Caucuses are groups of association members who coalesce around a topic, interest, or affinity by sharing information and experiences through online discussions, gatherings, or activities. They are the “professional home” or “community” for association members (section 5.1.). Caucuses may come together to collaborate on the vision and strategy for the MLA professional practice areas and competencies, solicit members to contribute to initiatives, activities and programs of interest across caucuses, and publish content via MLA’s resources and communication channels.

2.3. Community Council

The Community Council is the representative body of all caucuses. It advises the Board of Directors, promotes interchange among caucuses, and provides the overall governance for caucuses (section 7.1.).

3. Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the threads that strengthen the fabric of MLA:

  • Communities are inclusive for all MLA members who are seeking a place to exchange ideas and experiences.
  • Communities reflect the diversity of MLA member interests.
  • Communities are a safe space for members to exchange ideas and experiences.

Communities provide MLA members a path to leadership. To that end, community leadership opportunities should be broadly accessible, in a manner consistent with the diversity and inclusion values stated above.

4. Organizational Overview

4.1. Governance

Association members are the driving force of all the components of MLA’s member communities organization.

Association members:

  • elect members of the MLA Board of Directors
  • decide which caucus or caucuses to join, and elect their caucus’s or caucuses’ leadership

Via their elected caucus leadership, association members:

  • elect the Community Council representative on the MLA Board of Directors
  • select six (6) of eighteen (18) members on the Nominating Committee slate

Caucuses are governed by the Community Council. This is a hierarchical organizational chart to ensure representation and compliance, and administrative decision making.

Caucus organizational chart

4.2. Collaboration, Content, Programming, and Communication

The caucuses can work together as collaborative areas for content, programming, communication, and more.

5. Caucus

5.1. Caucus Definition

Caucuses are groups of association members who coalesce around a topic, interest, or affinity by sharing information and experiences through online discussions, gatherings, or activities. They are the “professional home” or “community” for association members.

5.2. Caucus Membership

  • All, and only, association members may join or withdraw from a caucus, anytime during the year.
  • Association members may join multiple caucuses, with no limitation.
  • Caucus dues are $0.

5.3. Caucus Minimum Requirements

Caucuses are required to:

  • maintain a minimum of ten (10) members at all times during the year
  • have a chair,
  • elect a chair-elect who will then serve as chair and immediate past chair in subsequent years (total of three [3] years)
  • submit a midyear executive summary of activities and an annual report
  • meet as a group a minimum of once a year, virtually.

5.4. Caucus Optional Features

Caucuses may also:

  • create caucus committees and/or leadership positions. These positions may be either appointed or elected.

5.5. Governance Hierarchy

The Community Council is the representative and governing body of all caucuses.

5.6. Caucus Activities

Caucuses decide the level of activities that they wish to be engaged in, such as online discussions, gatherings, specific projects, activities, recognitions, and advocacy.

Each caucus has its own space on MLANET, which includes:

  • a landing page
  • a member roster
  • a forum (email discussion list)
  • a file library
  • online report submission
  • leadership election management

Additional customized features are available by contacting MLA headquarters for support.

Caucuses should:

  • encourage diverse and inclusive collaboration between caucus members and between caucuses, including active participation in discussions or projects
  • communicate to association members and the public via MLAConnect column editors
  • encourage their members to submit content, individually or as a group, to MLA programs and activities (e.g., annual meeting, MLAConnect, the Journal of the Medical Library Association [JMLA])

Caucuses (and caucus members) shall not take direct action with respect to association business or in the name of the association but may make recommendations to the Community Council regarding association policies or actions.

5.7. Caucus Leadership Positions and Roles

Caucuses have the following required leadership positions:

  • one (1) chair-elect, elected by the members of the caucus for a one-year term
  • one (1) chair, who is the prior year chair-elect, for a one-year term
  • one (1) immediate past chair, who is the prior year chair, for a one-year term

Immediate past chairs must wait at minimum of one (1) year before becoming eligible again as chair-elect.

Caucus standing committees:

  • The chair-elect, chair, and immediate past chair shall constitute the Caucus Executive Committee.
  • The immediate past chair and at least two caucus members shall constitute the Caucus Nominating Committee.

Leadership duties:

  • The duties of the chair shall be to:
    • preside over all meetings
    • serve as the caucus’s alternate representative to the Community Council and to vote when the immediate past chair is unable to attend the Community Council meeting
    • chair the Caucus Executive Committee
    • submit a midyear executive summary and an annual report to MLA headquarters by the date requested
  • The duties of the chair-elect shall be to:
    • serve as chair in the chair’s absence
    • serve on the Caucus Executive Committee
    • perform all other duties as requested by the caucus leadership
  • The duties of the immediate past chair shall be to:
    • represent the caucus on the MLA Community Council by attending the meetings of the Community Council
    • represent the interests of the caucus and of the group as a whole during discussions, make motions, debate, and vote on Community Council issues on behalf of the caucus
    • serve on the Caucus Executive Committee
    • chair the Caucus Nominating Committee, unless otherwise stipulated
    • transmit to the Community Council recommendations that have been approved by the caucus
    • communicate Community Council business to the officers and membership of the caucus
  • The duties of the Caucus Executive Committee shall be to:
    • have general supervision of the affairs of the caucus between its meetings, fix the time and place of meetings, and make recommendations to the membership
    • establish or dissolve caucus committees, appoint committee members and leaders, or appoint specific positions; caucuses shall define the nominating process for making these appointments; and appointees shall be appointed from among caucus members for a term not to exceed three (3) years
  • The duties of the Caucus Nominating Committee shall be to:
    • prepare the caucus chair-elect annual election slate
    • optionally submit to the Community Council the name of a caucus member as a potential candidate for membership on the MLA Nominating Committee (section 7.9)
  • The duties of appointed positions and committee chairs shall be to:
    • actively and inclusively facilitate, engage, and achieve the purpose of their position or committee

All caucus leaders are encouraged to attend the MLA annual business meeting and conference to further the goal of collaboration with MLA member communities and communication within and outside their caucus membership.

5.8. Caucus Finances

Caucuses are a part of the association and, therefore, operate within the overall budget of the association. They do not have their own treasuries.

Caucuses may:

  • solicit funding from the association for caucus initiatives that require it by submitting a budget request and justification to the Community Finance Request Review Workgroup, using the process and timeline defined by MLA headquarters (online form)
  • solicit funding on behalf of the association from a funder outside of the association, provided that the caucus gets prior written approval from the MLA executive director or chief operating officer.

The association will, on behalf of a caucus (if applicable):

  • administer the financial disbursement of awards, fellowships, and scholarships, whether funded by association funds or by funders outside of the association

5.9. Caucus Meetings

Each caucus shall hold at least one meeting in each association year. Additional meetings may be held. One meeting of the caucus shall be called the “annual meeting.”

At least one meeting shall be held online at a time that is convenient for members to include caucus members who are unable to attend the MLA annual meeting.

Notice of all meetings shall be disseminated to the membership at least thirty (30) days in advance of the meeting date.

A quorum shall consist of three (3) caucus members or 10 percent (10%) of the caucus membership, whichever is greater.

5.11. Caucus Elections

All caucuses are required to hold an annual election for the chair-elect. Caucuses may decide to elect additional leadership positions.

Caucuses with a vacant chair-elect position shall also elect a chair. The current chair shall be eligible to be on the chair election slate, provided their current term is a partial one (e.g. for newly created caucuses). In the event the current chair of a partial term is elected chair, the position of immediate past chair shall remain vacant for an additional year.

All elections occur in the first quarter of the calendar year, on a calendar and with a process established by MLA headquarters to provide a consistent and efficient experience for all caucus members.

Unless otherwise stipulated, all terms of office shall end and begin at the close of the MLA annual business meeting.

A Caucus Nominating Committee shall be created to establish an election slate.

Process:

  • The immediate past chair shall chair the Caucus Nominating Committee and appoint at least two (2) caucus members to serve on the committee. In the event of a vacancy of the immediate past chair position, the chair of the caucus shall appoint a caucus member as chair of the committee.
  • The committee shall prepare a slate of one or more nominees for each elected position, from caucus members who are not members of the committee, and provide the slate to MLA headquarters, who will organize the election on MLANET.
  • A majority vote shall elect; unless there are more than two candidates, then a plurality shall elect.
  • All election results shall be communicated to all association members.

5.11. Caucus Leadership Vacancies

  • A vacancy arising in the term of chair shall be filled by the chair-elect, who shall cease to be chair-elect, shall serve out the unexpired term of the chair, and shall continue as chair for the full succeeding term to which they were elected.
  • A vacancy arising in the term of Immediate Past Chair, including for newly formed caucuses, shall remain unfilled until the next scheduled rotation of chair to Immediate Past Chair. The chair shall also take on the responsibilities of the Immediate Past Chair for the period of the Immediate Past Chair vacancy.
  • In the case of a vacancy in both the offices of the caucus Immediate Past Chair and of the caucus chair, the remaining members of the Caucus Executive Committee shall appoint a replacement to serve until the next scheduled election.

5.12. Archiving, Transfer of Leadership

MLA headquarters encourages all leaders to store MLA-related business on MLA servers (e.g. MLANET, MLA Google Drive) so as to facilitate information transfers.

The following caucus files should be stored on MLANET:

  • reports submitted to MLA headquarters and to the Community Council
  • caucus procedure manual and timetable (the most current edition), if applicable
  • significant documentation of caucus activities and projects

The outgoing chair should share with the incoming chair all files necessary for them to assume their responsibilities and the continuity of caucus operations by the time of the MLA annual meeting.

Caucus annual reports are automatically included in MLA archives by MLA headquarters. Caucus chairs should transfer to MLA headquarters additional items that are deemed archivable.

5.13. Caucus Creation, Modification, and Dissolution

5.13.1. Caucus Purpose and Scope

The stated purpose and scope of the caucus shall be consistent with and related to the vision, mission, and values of the association.

Purpose and scope statements (initial and changes) are approved by the Community Council.

5.13.2. Caucus Name

Any appropriate name may be chosen for caucuses. The phrase, “a Caucus of the Medical Library Association,” shall follow the caucus name when this fact is not clearly evident in the name chosen.

Names (initial and changes) are approved by the Community Council.

5.13.3. Caucus Creation

Association members may petition the Community Council for the creation of a new caucus, anytime during the year, provided that:

  • The proposed caucus will meet the minimum requirements (section 5.3.).
  • The proposed purpose and scopes meet the requirement (section 5.14.1.).
  • The proposed name meets the requirement (section 5.14.2.).
  • The petition is supported by a minimum of ten (10) association members.

The petition shall include the name of a proposed chair of the caucus.

The Caucus Governance Committee of the Community Council will evaluate requests based on the following:

  • The proposal complies with the requirements.
  • The needs and interests of the proposed caucus are not reasonably met or served by an existing caucus.

The Caucus Governance Committee of the Community Council shall not unreasonably withhold approval of a petition. It may recommend changes to the petition prior to approval to ensure overall cohesiveness and alignment of all caucuses. The approval of the petition shall include the appointment of the new caucus chair for the period of chair, until the next scheduled election.

5.13.4. Caucus Dissolution

The Community Council may dissolve a caucus if:

  • The caucus requests to be dissolved.
  • The caucus fails to comply with caucus requirements after a one-year grace period.
  • In the opinion of the Community Council, the caucus’s purposes and scope are not being fulfilled or are no longer relevant to MLA’s purposes and objectives.

6. Community Council

6.1. Community Council Definition

The Community Council is the representative body of all caucuses. It advises the Board of Directors, promotes interchange among caucuses, and provides the overall governance for caucuses.

6.2. Community Council Membership

The Community Council comprises:

  • a Community Council chair, who is also an ex-officio voting member of the Board of Directors
  • the immediate past chairs and the chairs of the association’s caucuses

Terms of office:

  • three (3) years for the Community Council chair
  • two (2) years for representatives of the caucuses (one year as chair and one year as immediate past chair)
  • all terms of office shall end and begin at the close of the MLA annual business meeting

6.3. Community Council Roles

  • representative body of member communities to the Board of Directors and association members at large
  • governing body of caucuses (section 7.7)
  • nominating body to the MLA Nominating Committee (section 7.9)

6.4. Voting

  • Community Council chair may vote.
  • Caucus immediate past chairs may vote. In their absence, the caucus chair may vote, and in the absence of both, a proxy from the caucus, appointed by the Caucus Executive Committee, may vote.

Voting requires a quorum of a minimum of ten percent (10%) of the Community Council membership.

6.5. Vacancies

In the case of a vacancy in both the office of the caucus immediate past chair and of the caucus chair, the caucus chair-elect shall serve until the next scheduled caucus leadership election.

6.6. Community Council Chair

The Community Council chair shall preside at all meetings of the Community Council, shall be responsible for calling all meetings of the Community Council, and shall serve as an ex-officio voting member of the Board of Directors.

By December 15 in the year prior to the expiration of the term of the existing Community Council chair, the voting members of the Community Council shall elect from among themselves a new chair of the Community Council.

The person elected shall serve a three-year term as chair, which shall begin at the close of the MLA annual meeting. The term shall be staggered with the term of the Chapter Council chair.

The Community Council chair may not serve consecutive terms.

In the event of the chair’s inability to serve or removal from office, the Board of Directors shall decide how to fill the vacancy.

6.7. Caucus Governance

The Community Council shall appoint a Caucus Governance Committee from among its members and delegate to it the day-to-day governance of caucuses.

The Caucus Governance Committee shall be chaired by the Community Council chair and comprise four (4) to eight (8) additional members randomly chosen from a pool of volunteer members (exact number determined by the chair, based on need).

Day-to-day governance of caucuses includes:

  • caucus creation, modification, and dissolution (section 5.14)
  • caucus compliance (section 5.14)
  • mentoring of caucus leaders

6.8. Nominations to the MLA Nominating Committee

The Community Council chair shall submit to the current Nominating Committee the names of potential candidates for Nominating Committee membership for the following year, according to the procedures established by the Board of Directors.

6.8.1. Selection of Candidates by Caucuses

  • Each caucus has the option to submit to the Community Council the name of one (1) caucus member as a potential candidate for membership on the MLA Nominating Committee in compliance with the nominations and elections procedures established for caucuses. Community Council members facilitate the selection process by advising their caucuses of the timetable established by the Council Elections Committee for the receipt of all candidate names.
  • Council members must obtain from each potential candidate a biographical statement and a signed statement of willingness to serve if elected as a member of the Nominating Committee. Each representative is responsible for sending the form for their caucus’s candidate and a brief statement of the candidate’s qualifications to the Community Council Elections Committee chair by March 15.

6.8.2. Restrictions

No person shall consent to candidacy as a caucus nominee to the MLA Nominating Committee who has already agreed to be a candidate representing another unit of MLA, and no candidate shall also be a candidate for an elective office of MLA (including Community Council and caucus officers). No one shall serve on the Nominating Committee as a voting member more than one (1) term during a period of five (5) years.

6.8.3. Selection of Candidates by Council

  • Biographical forms are posted on the Community Council elections website. The Elections Committee chair notifies the Community Council when the forms are posted and sends a form to be used for voting and the deadline for voting. The person casting the vote for their caucus consults with caucus leadership on the selection but is not required to get feedback from the entire caucus membership. Each representative votes for six (6) nominees. The voting slate is returned to the Elections Committee chair by email. The Elections Committee chair notifies the Community Council chair of the results.
  • The six (6) nominees receiving the highest number of votes become the Community Council nominees. In case of a tie, the Community Council chair casts the deciding vote. If the names of fewer than six (6) potential candidates are submitted to the Community Council, the Community Council will select additional qualified candidates to bring the total to six (6). The election results are announced at the Community Council meeting during the annual meeting so that the names can be entered into the official minutes. The Community Council chair will keep the names of the first and second runners-up, in case one of the six (6) elected nominees is unable to run. The Elections Committee chair will maintain names of two (2) runners-up, as well as the Community Council’s voting records, for a period of three (3) months

6.8.4. Election Results

  • The Community Council chair submits the names and biographical forms of the six (6) nominees and the two (2) runners-up to the chair of MLA Headquarters who notifies the chair of the MLA Nominating Committee, and who places the names on the MLA ballot. The Community Council chair notifies Community Council nominees of their selection following the annual meeting. The caucus immediate past chair is responsible for notifying their caucus’s candidates if they were not selected by the Community Council as a nominee. 

6.9. Community Council Meetings

The Community Council shall meet face-to-face at least once a year in conjunction with the MLA annual meeting (Community Council annual meeting), at a time and place agreed to with the annual meeting organizers. Additional meetings may be held online at a time convenient for members. The chair should notify members of upcoming meeting at least nine (9) weeks in advance for the Community Council annual meeting and thirty (30) days for online meetings.

Community Council members are encouraged to attend the annual meeting and participate in all Community Council meetings.

Community Council annual meeting agenda:

  • The Community Council chair shares a preliminary agenda with Community Council members prior to the annual meeting to request additional items and recommendations for the final agenda.
  • The agenda, distributed to Community Council members prior to the meeting, typically includes:
    • approval of minutes
    • the chair’s report
    • committee reports
    • petitions, motions, and resolutions
    • elections
    • other items of interest to the caucuses
    • remarks by the MLA executive director and other MLA leaders invited to address the Community Council

6.10. Community Council Reports

The chair of Community Council shall submit an annual report to the Board of Directors prior to the annual meeting of the association. The chairs shall report relevant action by the Board of Directors to the Community Council as soon as possible after board meetings.

The chair shall also submit a midyear executive summary of activities.

6.11. Archiving, Transfer of Leadership

MLA headquarters encourages all leaders to store MLA-related business on MLA servers (e.g., MLANET, MLA Google Drive), so as to facilitate information transfers.

The following Community Council files should be stored on MLANET:

  • reports submitted to MLA headquarters and to the Board of Directors
  • Community Council procedure manual and timetable (the most current edition), if applicable
  • significant documentation of Community Council activities and projects

The outgoing chair should share with the incoming chair all files necessary for them to assume their responsibilities and the continuity of Community Council operations by the time of the MLA annual meeting.

Community Council annual reports are automatically included in MLA archives by MLA headquarters. 

7. Calendar

The caucuses and Community Council will follow an MLA-wide calendar provided by MLA headquarters, designed to comply with bylaw requirements, provide a consistent experience for association members, and ensure a coherent flow throughout the association year.