March 2, 2009

Chapters Keep it Simple

NCLA chapter members are finding new and creative ways to connect with each other. We recently heard from three groups trying new approaches to networking on a local level.

Instead of formal meetings, the Rockford IL Chapter now gathers three times a year at a local restaurant. “We find that this informal meeting works just great for us. We share problems, successes, discuss new or well-received books and ways of promoting our individual libraries,” explains President Ruth Anderson.

Our newest chapter in Western New York recognizes that everyone has busy schedules and time constraints for meeting in person. Although they have met in person, they are focusing more on connecting and supporting each other online. “So far, an informal setting has worked well,” reports organizer Moe Conley.

The Lake Superior MN Chapter has converted their traditional board leadership structure to a less formal "Planning Team" structure. NCLA’s oldest chapter in existence lost several officers in the past year and were unable to find volunteers able to step up to their long-established president, vice president, secretary and treasurer jobs.

Their solution? They now have a new group of four volunteers working together informally as a team. At a recent January meeting, they agreed on a basic, overarching strategy:

• Keep things simple. Meetings will be informal, with coffee and treats available at the beginning and throughout the meeting for people to enjoy. Paper plates and Styrofoam cups are acceptable! No big lunch production will be held at the end. They recognize that not all churches have a large library committee, and this is a way to enable and encourage smaller churches to host gatherings.

• Emphasize sharing! Round tables will be a regular part of every meeting. This way, they say, everyone will have an opportunity to share their knowledge and the time is not spent entirely sitting passively with a speaker.

• Lighten up on record keeping. A volunteer will be asked to take notes at each meeting in lieu of more formal minutes. Copies of the meeting “minutes” and a finance report will be made available, but time will not be spent reading them aloud at each meeting.

NCLA has 21 chapters across the U.S. They vary widely in how they are structured. Many of our long-standing chapters continue to operate under a traditional arrangement. Other chapters find it easier to operate less formally, like the ones highlighted here. No matter what the structure, the networking opportunities chapter members receive are invaluable.

Interested in finding other church librarians in your area? We can search our member database to find out who your NCLA church library neighbors are.

Want to join a local NCLA chapter? We can help you find a local chapter, or start a new chapter if one does not currently exist in your area. Contact NCLA by email at or call 651-430-0770 to make a new connection today!

We invite you to share your comments and questions about networking and local chapters. Click on "comments" below to join the conversation!