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Reporters at Semiannual Association Meetings

Guidance for Meeting Session Chairs and ARL Staff

The ARL executive director has the authority to invite selected representatives of the press to the semiannual Association of Research Libraries Meetings (program sessions only) to report on the program if the content has value for the broader library, higher education, and information technology communities.

Reporters affiliated with a small number of library and higher education publications are regularly invited to attend the semiannual Association Meetings.* Those who accept are listed on the Attendance List as a guest, provided a nametag that identifies their affiliation, and are publicly introduced at the opening plenary session.

Based on the following guidance, reporters will receive written information explaining that there may be some parts of the Association Meeting from which they are excluded.

Reporters are invited to attend all open plenary sessions and receptions at the meeting. There are however some working sessions of the Association that are not automatically open to media representatives. For example, the ARL Board, committees, and working groups will typically meet before the Association Meeting formally convenes. Media representatives need to request access to attend one these working sessions, or one of the topical briefing sessions that are sponsored by committees. Such a request may be made either in advance or on site to any member of the ARL staff who will refer the request to the appropriate committee staff liaison. [Note: The exceptions detailed in this paragraph are to be explicit in the Association Meeting invitation sent to reporters.]

The program officer associated with the issue assumes responsibility for making the decision about how to respond to the request. If the response is positive, the program officer will introduce the reporter to the chair of the program session (or the committee meeting) to alert them that press is in attendance. The chair is encouraged to introduce the reporter at the beginning of the session so all attending—speakers and audience—are aware of their presence. The chair or any member representative present could, if they wish, ask that the discussion be “for background only” and completely off the record.

Chairs of committees, task forces, or working groups that meet at the Association Meeting have the option of excluding a reporter from any of their group’s meetings if they believe that their presence will inhibit a full discussion. The same may be applied to a program session at the discretion of the ARL president or executive director.

Ideally, a decision to close a meeting session to a reporter should be made prior to the start of the meeting. If a chair feels circumstances warrant it, a decision to close a meeting may be made spontaneously. For example, the chair could call for a five-minute break and the reporter could be discreetly asked to leave, ideally with a promise for a post meeting briefing on the topic of interest. Anyone pressed by the reporter for a comment or a quote may opt not to provide this feedback spontaneously by agreeing to an interview, but at a later time.

ARL staff liaisons to the groups will make every effort to alert the chair should a reporter arrive at a meeting that is intended to be open only to ARL member library representatives and other meeting guests.

Guidance is based on discussions with the Executive Committee
Endorsed by the ARL Board of Directors
February 24, 2010

* American Libraries, Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Library Journal