European Studies Section Webcast Summary

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2017, Vol. 41, No. 1


On September 26, 2017, the ALA ACRL European Studies Section (ESS) held a webcast for the membership. The online format offered a flexible space for members to share their expectations, experiences, and possible concerns. The merger of the Western European Studies Section (WESS) and the Slavic and East European Studies Section (SEES) took place very recently, on September 1. The webcast consisted of two parts. In the first half, the brief history of the merger and its documentation (FAQs, Transition Plan, and ESS Governance Document) were reviewed by ESS Co-Chairs Kristen Totleben and Lana Soglasnova. The second half of the webcast consisted of lively online discussion. As well, questions and comments were continuously posted in the chat window throughout the webcast.
The recording of the ACRL European Studies Section Discussion Forum has been posted online.

The official documentation of ESS is posted online on the ACRL ESS website. As well, SEES and WESS currently maintain their distinct websites, where this documentation has also been posted.

The three ESS documents are presented in Sections 1-3 below. The webcast discussion is summarized in Section 4.

The Merger FAQ document

The “Frequently Asked Questions” document was prepared before the effective date of the merger, thus its importance today is more of a historical nature. The brief history of the merger is presented in this document. As SEES membership fell below the quota required by ACRL for its sections, it was felt important to continue the work of the section and all of its constituent bodies. Following detailed discussion, SEES and WESS memberships and executive boards advanced the proposal to merge into a Pan-European section. A four-year timeline for the merger, in accordance with ACRL governance, was established and implemented. The important steps during that period included: the July 2016 vote by the Executive Committee; the Transition Plan; and the Governance Document of the newly merged European Studies Section.

The vote by the Executive Committee took place in July 2016 and resulted in a recommendation to ACRL Governing Board to merge the two sections, with the name of the new section being European Studies Section.

The SEES-WESS Merger Transition Plan

The SEES-WESS Merger Transition Plan outlines the main points for the transition: Section Charge, Committees, Discussion Groups, Leadership Transition, Upcoming Elections, Publications and Websites, Revisiting Decisions. Of particular importance are the points concerning the section composition, revision mechanism, and future elections, as briefly discussed below.

ESS Structure: Committees, Discussion Groups, Review Mechanism
Most individual committees and discussion groups that existed within SEES and WESS are maintained intact following the merger. Three committees with largely administrative functions have merged, namely: The Nominating Committee; The Conference Planning Committee; and The Award Committee.

The composition of ESS and the configuration of its committees and other bodies will be subject to review by the ESS Executive Committee two years after the merger, in Fall 2019.

ESS Structure: Publications, Web Sites, Review Mechanism
The individual publications (SEES Newsletter and WESS Newsletter) and websites (WESS and SEES) are maintained.

The Publications Committee will review all publications and make transition recommendations to the Executive Committee one year after the merger, in Fall 2018.

ESS Leadership Transition and Elections
This section of the Transition Plan lays out the details of leadership transition and elections for the three-year period from 2017 to 2019.

As of September 2017, in accordance with these guidelines, the Executive Committee consists of Co-Chairs of ESS, Kristen Totleben (sitting chair of WESS before merger) and Lana Soglasnova (sitting chair of SEES before merger); Thomas Keenan (past-chairperson, SEES) and Katie Gibson (past-chairperson, WESS); the newly elected secretary, Maira Bundza; the newly elected member-at-large, Diana Brooking; and committee chairs: Joe Lenkart (Access and Preservation Committee, Chair; Conference Planning-2018, Co-Chair), Larisa Walsh (Automated Bibliographic Control Committee), Katie Gibson (Award Committee), David Oberhelman (Conference Planning-2018, Co-Chair), Joanneke Elliott (Membership Committee, Co-Chair), Manuel Ostos (Membership Committee, Co-Chair), Kelsey Elizabeth Corlett-Rivera (Nominating 2018 Committee, Co-Chair), Yelena Luckert (Nominating 2018 Committee, Co-Chair), Mara Egherman (Publications Committee, Chair), Amauri Serrano (Recruitment to the Profession Committee), Tea Rokolj (Research and Planning Committee), Lisa Baker (SEES Newsletter Editorial Board, Co-Chair), Sandra Levy (SEES Newsletter Editorial Board, Co-Chair), Ann Snoeyenbos (Chair, Vendor Relations Committee).

In 2018 and 2019, elections will be held for the positions of an incoming chair, vice-chair/chair-elect, secretary, and member-at-large, with some transitional adjustments regarding length of service in the 2018 election cycle. See the Transition Plan document for details.

ESS Governance Document

The ESS Governance Document sets the regulations for the functioning of ESS as a section in accordance with ACRL guidelines. This document has 11 parts: A. Name; B. Purpose; C. Membership; D. Relation to ACRL Board; E. Meetings; F. Officers and their functions and responsibilities (chair, vice-chair/chair-elect, immediate past chair, member-at-large); G. ESS Executive Committee; H. Other Committees; I. Nominations and Elections; J. Vacancies; K. Amendments to Governance Procedures. The Governance Document was compiled by sitting chairs and vice-chairs of WESS and SEES in preparation for the merger, through careful examination and discussion of SEES and WESS governance documents, and represents a true merger of practices in the two sections. The ESS governance document was submitted for approval to ACRL Board and approved in January 2017.

The Transition Plan and the ESS Governance Document constitute current governance practices of ESS during the transition period (to 2019).

Webcast Discussion

Several important points emerged in the discussion.

ACRL ESS Website
The ACRL ESS website will be fine-tuned and expanded to reflect the full organizational structure of ESS, including navigation links and committee rosters. Individual websites of WESS and SEES website are still maintained (see ESS Structure: Publications, Web Sites, Review Mechanism above).

The Committee on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) is a committee of ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies), the leading international organization for the study of the region. Traditionally, before the merger, the SEES chair has reported on the activities of SEES for a given year to ASEEES CLIR at the ASEEES Annual Convention in November. (In November 2017, one of ESS co-chairs (Lana) is attending ASEEES and will report to CLIR.) It was pointed out that ESS needed a mechanism to continue this reporting, should both chair and vice-chair in a given year not be attending the ASEEES Convention. Suggestions included delegating the report to someone attending ASEEES; a liaison mechanism from the section; adding reporting to CLIR to responsibilities of chair/vice-chair. The discussion will continue to work out a solution.

ESS Secretary
The secretary used to attend the All-Committee meeting and the Executive Committee meeting for SEES, sometimes all committee meetings; and the Executive Committee, General membership, and Publications Committee for WESS during the Midwinter and Annual. It was pointed out that after the merger, that might no longer be possible due to sheer number of meetings and length of conference, as well as meeting time conflicts. Delegation of minute-taking was suggested as a possible solution. Scheduling of meetings in the future will have to take into account the role of the secretary. For Midwinter 2018, ESS Secretary, Maira Bundza, plans to attend as many meetings as possible, and will hold a discussion with co-chairs to clarify the role of the secretary.

The Automated Bibliographic Control Committee and the Cataloging Interest Group: Names and Functions
After the merger, there are two bodies in ESS whose primary interest is in cataloging: The Automated Bibliographic Control Committee (formerly SEES ABC), and the Cataloging Discussion Group (formerly of WESS). It was pointed out that the former WESS DG discussed more general cataloging issues, and the former SEES committee served more as an advisory body for issues involved in Slavic and Eastern European languages (such as diacritics, non-Latin scripts) beyond the scope of a discussion group. Name changes were proposed: possibly, Slavic and Eastern European Cataloging Committee, and Western Cataloging Discussion Group. As name changes for ABC were discussed before, this issue will need to be discussed again. Whether the two bodies will remain separate or merge remains to be seen.

As co-chairs, we were happy to see the webcast immediately engage many ESS members. We learned a great deal from each other’s expertise, and would like to thank everyone who attended and phoned in. We hope the conversation leading to firm coalescence of ESS will continue in many forms.

Lana Soglasnova & Kristen Totleben
ESS Co-Chairs, 2017-2018