You are here

Shake It Up: Join an MLA Committee

MLA’s strength lies in its members and their involvement and contributions. With an organization comprising approximately 3,500 individuals, it may be a little daunting for some to feel like they can participate. But there are many opportunities for members to engage and contribute to MLA. Joining and serving on an MLA committee is a great way for members to actively have a role in the organization and its future, while also connecting with other members. There are about 250 MLA members serving on committees, and roughly 100 of these members rotate off as their terms end. Committees are critical to guiding MLA’s priorities and direction.

Rick Ocasek sang, “Dance all night, keep the beat. Don’t you worry ’bout two left feet. Just shake it up.” Don’t let your fear of “two left feet” stop you; attendance at the annual meeting is not required for you to join. “You don’t need no bad excuse,” because earning points toward membership in the Academy of Health Information Professionals is a good excuse. So, get in there, submit an application, join a committee, and shake it up!

Who Is Eligible for a Committee?

Any member of MLA is eligible to serve on a committee. You must be a member for the 2014 association membership year (January–December) in which you apply and remain a member for the length of your appointment (1–3 years) to serve.

I’m a New Member. Am I Eligible?

Absolutely! The association needs new ideas and fresh perspectives to complement and “shake up” the experience of well-established members. A committee assignment is a great way for a new member to learn about MLA and to network with active association colleagues.

What Committees Are Available?

“Don’t let nobody pick your fun”; a list of committees and juries is on the application form. To find the list of committees, visit MLANET. Log in; then under your “My MLANET” menu, select “View MLA Leadership Rosters” to see a list of those who are currently serving on and chairing committees. To learn the basics of MLA committees, visit Most committee chairs and members will be glad to tell you about the work of their committees, and you can read the official annual activity reports of each committee. The many different committees represent a variety of interests. Most committees and juries have staggered appointments so that there are usually one or two members rotating off each year.

What Is Involved in Committee Work? Is Travel Required?

Each committee has a specific “dance” or charge that defines the scope of its work. Most committee appointments are for three years, and most jury appointments are for one year. While members are encouraged to attend the annual meeting where more intense committee activity takes place, attendance is not required. Much of the committee work is done by email, conference calls, and virtual meetings. A bonus for committee service is that many institutions consider a committee appointment an important factor in deciding who is funded to attend the annual meeting.

I Applied Last Year. Do I Need to Apply Again?

Yes, but only if you were not appointed or if your term will be up this year. The appointment process for committee members starts with a clean slate each year. If you applied last year but did not get appointed, please don’t be discouraged and please do apply again. If you are currently on a committee and your appointment ends in May 2015, you will need to submit an application to be considered for another committee.

How Does the Appointment Process Work?

The main purpose of the appointment process is to match members’ skills, interests, and experience with the responsibilities and needs of the committees. Applications are sorted by the applicants’ committee preferences and shared with the committee chairs, their board liaisons, and their staff liaisons for appointment recommendations.

The president-elect reviews the nominations and makes the final appointments. Appointment letters are sent in late February or early March. If an applicant must decline an appointment at that time, a replacement is found from the remaining pool of applicants. This means the process can sometimes last until April. Finally, if a committee vacancy occurs during the year, MLA’s president will name a replacement.

What Are My Chances of Getting Appointed?

Your chances are very good. To maximize your chances of being selected, list at least three committees in which you are interested. Don’t forget the awards, grants, and scholarship juries, and check the option on the form that indicates you are willing to serve on “any committee, jury, panel, board, or task force.” While an effort is made to match applicants’ skills and interests to the needs of the committees, sometimes there is just not a good match or there are more volunteers than committee openings. Don’t forget to enter information on your expertise or special skills for your committee choice; it helps with the selection process. If you are not selected, remember that other MLA units such as sections and chapters provide volunteer opportunities as well, and experience with these groups can increase your chances of being selected for an MLA committee in the future.

I Want to Shake It Up. How Do I Apply?

The online application form is available at The application deadline is October 31, 2014.

List of Available Committees

  • Awards Committee
    • Virginia L. and William K. Beatty Volunteer Service Award
    • Estelle Brodman Award for the Academic Medical Librarian of the Year
    • Lois Ann Colaianni Award for Excellence and Achievement in Hospital Librarianship
    • Louise Darling Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Collection Development in the Health Sciences
    • Janet Doe Lectureship
    • Ida and George Eliot Prize
    • Fellows and Honorary Members
    • Carla J. Funk Governmental Relations Award
    • Murray Gottlieb Prize
    • T. Mark Hodges International Service Award
    • Majors/MLA Chapter Project of the Year
    • Lucretia W. McClure Excellence in Education Award
    • Rising Stars
    • Rittenhouse Award
    • Section Project of the Year Award
    • Thomson Reuters/Frank Bradway Rogers Information Advancement Award
  • Books Panel
  • Continuing Education Committee
  • Credentialing Committee
  • Governmental Relations Committee
  • Grants and Scholarships Committee
    • Ysabel Bertolucci MLA Annual Meeting Grant
    • Continuing Education Award
    • Cunningham Memorial International Fellowship
    • EBSCO/MLA Annual Meeting Grant
    • Eugene Garfield Research Fellowship
    • Hospital Libraries Section/MLA Professional Development Grants (must be a member of the Hospital Libraries Section to serve)
    • David A. Kronick Traveling Fellowship
    • Librarians without Borders® Ursula Poland International Scholarship
    • Donald A. B. Lindberg Research Fellowship
    • Medical Informatics Section/MLA Career Development Grant (must be a member of the Medical Informatics Section to serve)
    • MLA Research, Development, and Demonstration Project Grant
    • MLA Scholarship
    • MLA Scholarship for Minority Students
    • Thomson Reuters/MLA Doctoral Fellowship
  • JMLA Editorial Board
  • Joseph Leiter NLM/MLA Lectureship Committee
  • Librarians Without Borders® Advisory Committee
  • Membership Committee
  • National Program Committee
  • Oral History Committee
  • Professional Recruitment and Retention Committee
  • Rising Stars Committee
  • Scholarly Communications Committee
  • Technology Advisory Committee