Special Interest Groups – why most of them are currently being reviewed

IFLA has 15 Special Interest Groups, SIGs for short. They cover a range of topics and sit in all five of the IFLA Divisions: http://www.ifla.org/activities-and-groups#list5

SIGs are led by a convener, who might organise a session at the WLIC or a satellite meeting to facilitate debate and information sharing, and who should also be trying to encourage the SIG community to participate in debate throughout the year, using the SIG’s web pages and/or other social media platforms, or mailing lists. It’s also possible for SIG conveners to apply through their sponsoring Section for funds to support their administration, and to submit a proposal for PC Project funding.

Some conveners have support – perhaps a secretary, or web editor or someone willing to lead a project or organise an event. Often, however, the convener works alone and would probably welcome volunteers willing to help out or contribute ideas.

Eleven of the fifteen SIGs were set up four years ago when IFLA moved to its new professional structure, and so the time has come for them to be reviewed. The SIG structure was created for two reasons:
1. to provide a forum where emerging issues could be discussed which were not yet being addressed by a Section, or
2. to provide a structure for groups that didn’t (yet) have sufficient numbers interested to support the structure of a Section.
The idea, therefore, was that many SIGs would exist only until their topic either ceased to be of interest, or had gathered enough support to become integrated into the aims of the sponsoring Section, or – if it was distinct enough – to justify becoming a Section in its own right. The Rules of Procedure indicate that a SIG can continue existing for any length of time but the four-year review period was established to ensure they continued to be relevant and continued to meet the conditions laid out in IFLA’s procedural rules.

The Professional Committee has so far received reports for seven of the eleven SIGs that are currently being reviewed and by August 2013, it should be clear which of those will continue. They will all need a new convener, if one hasn’t already been identified during the last four years, so if you think this is a way you’d like to contribute in future, then get involved, and get in touch with the sponsoring Section or current convener to find out what you can do.

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