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Members Guide

Onboarding for newcomers and reference for everyone!

Communities of Interest (COIs)

Communities of Interest (COIs) are the primary forums for collaboration and are typically organized around a common practice area or current issue in academic libraries. COIs can be formed by any interested party within OPAL. While some COIs are 'birds of a feather' networking groups, others are more actively involved in projects.

Creating a COI

A community of interest can be initiated and led by anyone in OPAL and does not require a mandate from the Directors' Council. New COIs are encouraged to serve as an inclusive forum for discussion of ideas, best practices, policies, etc. If you decide to initiate a new COI, inform the current OPAL Executive Committee Liaison.

Below is a OPAL Meeting Template and will make reporting and reading the activities of the various groups easier for all. Meeting minutes should be sent to the Liason for posting on the OPAL website.



Will the Directors’ Council/Executive Committee have a way to assign tasks?

Yes, Task Forces will still be in place to be utilized by Directors’ Council/Executive Committee for specific tasks.

How does one initiate a COI?

Any OPAL member can begin a COI via OSHARE. Simply send an inquiry of interest to the rest of OPAL. If there are others interested, let the community liaison know, and the group has started. Decide amongst yourselves if you want to meet face-to-face (at OhioNET, regionally, etc), meet virtually, have a conference call, or just ‘talk’ through the listserv- whatever works.

When the group discusses a recommendation to send to the Directors’ Council, who will vote?

There is really no need to vote as the COI, just like past committees, is sending a recommendation to the Directors’ Council. The actual action is taken at the DC level. Whoever is present (face-to-face or virtually) can decide if this recommendation should be passed to the Executive Committee/Directors’ Council.

Will lunch be provided for face-to-face meetings?

As there is potential for a great increase in meetings, no lunch will be provided by OPAL.

With a less structured system, how will OPAL members be held accountable to continue valuable collaborative work?

Involvement will be the responsibility of the individual professional and the director of each library.

Is this an addition to the current structure?

No, this replaces the committee structure.

Will the existing listservs be eliminated?

No, if a group is currently using a listserv (i.e. opalcat, opalcirc) that listserv may continue to be used. No new listservs are planned to be added at this point. For simplicity OSHARE will be used for any new groups.

In how many COIs may one participate?

That decision must be made locally between the individual and the library director. As participation can take on a variety of levels from merely watching the list to participating in online discussions to collaborating in face-to-face meetings to initiating and leading a COI, there is room to participate in a variety of COIs according to job duties, interests, time available, etc.

How will information be shared from the COIs to the larger OPAL body?

Each COI will at least one time per year share a report through OSHARE. This will be the responsibility of the chair or initiator.

Do we lose any functionality with the COI structure?

No, nothing is lost with this change. If a group is satisfied with its current structure and believes that structure is working optimally for its purposes, the only change will be in the name.

Current COIs

Inactive COIs


Jessica Crossfield McIntosh

Current COI Liaison

Otterbein University