Taking Minutes

If you have been designated to take minutes at an IS meeting, the following suggestions should make your job as recording secretary easier.


  1. Have ready the minutes of previous meetings and any other material you may need at the meeting, such as any key documents to be discussed.
  2. Obtain a list of committee members and an agenda from the chair. You can use the agenda as a template for taking minutes if you’re using a laptop during the meeting.
  3. Prepare a sign-in sheet to pass around to those in attendance at the meeting or ask attendees to speak their names during a conference call. The sheet should request the following of attendees: Name, Institutional affiliation, Email address, and designation of Member or Observer.
  4. You may wish to use a digital voice recorder as a back up to your notes. If you plan to use a laptop, be sure to check battery life-span or bring power cords and an extension cord. Bring paper and pen as the ultimate back up plan.

What to Include in Your Minutes:

  1. Name of the committee or group and its hierarchical place within ACRL IS, followed by meeting name or kind (a regular or special meeting called to discuss a specific topic), and then date, time, and place of the meeting. For example:

ACRL Instruction Section Awards Committee
ALA Midwinter, Meeting I Saturday, January 12, 2008, 1:30-3:30 pm Ritz Carlton Philadelphia, Liberty B

 Names of committee members present. Indicate the chair or co-chairs by using “(ch)” after name.

  1. Names of committee members excused / absent. You may need to verify with the chair before or after the meeting regarding excused absences.
  2. List of observers. Indicate name, and institutional affiliation
  3. A statement that the minutes of the prior meeting were approved, revised or not read.
  4. Announcements or issues for discussion from the IS Advisory Council meeting.
  5. Items discussed in order listed on the agenda. Briefly describe main points discussed and state actions taken. A full transcript of the discussion is not necessary, but be sure to include actions, votes, resolutions, motions, etc.
  6. Give complete information but be succinct. A structured format to your minutes may help. For example, you may wish to use headings such as “Agenda Item” followed by subheadings “Discussion” and “Action Taken.”
  7. If a member of the committee is assigned a task or volunteers for an assignment, state clearly the person’s name and the responsibility accepted. Be sure to note any deadlines.
  8. Minutes should always be objective and impartial. They should be factual and devoid of editorial opinions and comments.
  9. The time the meeting was adjourned and the place, time and date of the next meeting.
  10. A statement listing who was the recording secretary responsible for the minutes. Example: Minutes taken by Jane Anybody.

Action Items:

Include action items within your minutes (see points 8 and 9 above), or conclude the minutes with a section entitled “Action Items,” listing the item(s) on which action is needed and the responsible committee member, as follows:

Action Items
Item Member Responsible Due Date
1. Contact PPR Committee re: joint project & report back at next meeting 1. Jane Anybody 03/31/15
2. Conduct literature search & distribute results to committee by May 2. Tyler Everybody 05/01/15
3. Etc. 3. Etc.

Proofreading and Distribution of Minutes:

Write up the minutes within two weeks after the meeting(s) and distribute them for proofreading, review, and approval to the committee chair, all committee members, and the Executive Committee liaison to the committee / group. Be sure to check for accuracy, any misspellings, and formatting consistency. Once the minutes are approved, the committee secretary or committee chair will upload them (in PDF format) to the IS Archive on ALA Connect. Consult the File Naming Conventions web page for the required file naming structure.

Additional Information:

A helpful title for novice minute-takers is Jane Watson’s Minute Taker’s Handbook: Taking Minutes at Any Meeting with Confidence (1992) ISBN 0-88908-994-9.

Originally prepared by the IS Communication Committee Instruction Section, Association of College and Research Libraries Revised 2003; Last update by Susan A. Vega Garcia, IS Secretary 2007-08, June 2008