SEMLOL Organizational History

SEMLOL began in 1978 following an Articulation Conference held by Wayne State University (WSU) and area community colleges. Though initially concerned with improving the library skills of community college students transferring into larger institutions, the participants quickly broadened their horizons, seeking ways to promote cooperation among area academic and research libraries. Representatives of college, public, and special libraries and the Library of Michigan were also invited to attend. During the first two years participants met seven times, recurrently assessing the need to meet and exploring progams that could be developed for the benefit of their users. Three white papers on resource sharing presented at an early meeting, together with concerns about the possible demise of the State Access Office interloan system and concerns that the most economical method of resource sharing be developed, led to two modest cooperative efforts. One was a limited user referral system (later to develop into the INFOPASS reciprocal borrowing system) and the other a workshop series using a specially created ILL manual to improve interlibrary loan skills of member librarians. WSU also obtained permission from its fellow list producers to distribute a copy of the Union List of Selected Serials of Michigan to SEMLOL libraries to improve their access to serial locator tools. The creation of INFOPASS also brought about creation of the INFOPASS Directory, later editions of which became the SEMLOL Directory.

From the beginning participating libraries had eschewed adopting bylaws and an organizational structure, being primarily interested in developing cooperative programs. At a November 1979 meeting they for the first time adopted the name SEMLOL (Southeastern Michigan League of Libraries) and appointed a Committee on Structure to recommend goals and objectives as well as governance structures for SEMLOL. In lieu of a constitution and bylaws, the Committee on Structure recommended an "interim" governance structure with a nine person Executive Board, including a Chairperson, two Co-Recording Secretaries, and six other members, to be elected on a one vote per institution basis, representing each type of participating library. To provide the Board with organizational support, the Committee recommended that the Board appoint a standing Committee on Organization (COO) headed by the Co-Recording Secretaries. SEMLOL remains an unincorporated voluntary body, but has graduated from the original "interim" governance structure to a more permanent set of bylaws adopted in 1987.

In the Fall of 1980 the membership itself identified tasks to be undertaken by SEMLOL, laying the foundations used by the Board to create SEMLOL's working committee structure. Tasks identified included enhancing bibliographic instruction in member libraries, exploring new modes of document delivery, updating the INFOPASS Directory and undertaking staff development and communication activities.

In the following years SEMLOL's committees undertook a number of projects and workshops for librarians within and beyond SEMLOL. In 1980 WSU offered borrowing privileges to INFOPASS holders and October 1982 saw the INFOPASS system become a fully reciprocal borrowing system usable when the resources of the user's home library had been exhausted. The areas of SEMLOL's interest continued to expand. Committees were set up for computers and library automation, cooperative collection development and the SEMLOL newsletter.

SEMLOL continues to be the only organization within Michigan through which the perspective of academic libraries and libraries with an affinity of interest can receive particular attention. Its organization remains flexible and responsive to membership concerns and all activities are accomplished through the members' voluntary contribution of time and services.