SIG Charter

Constituted within the Museum Computer Network, MCN Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are organized and run by members with shared interests related to MCN's overall mission. Each SIG provides a forum for MCN members to pursue specific subjects while MCN as a whole focuses on its members' more general concerns.
Contributing to fields within the museum information profession, SIGs provide opportunities for learning and for leadership and skill growth. This charter describes SIGs' functions and responsibilities. Where communication with the MCN Board is indicated, this usually occurs through the Board's SIG Liaison; in some cases, it includes communication with other officers as noted.
Creating a SIG
A SIG is proposed by MCN members and created by a Board vote. To offer durable value, a SIG should address a broad and long-lasting subject (e.g., Digital Media rather than a narrower topic such as JPEG 2000). A proposal to create a SIG specifies its name, statement of purpose, and initial Chair. Upon approval, the Board notifies the SIG Chair, the MCN Website Editor (who makes relevant web updates), and MCN's Membership Services office. Any major change in a SIG's focus also should be submitted to a Board vote.
Joining or Leaving a SIG
Any MCN member may join any SIG (and any number of SIGs). One may do so when an MCN membership begins, or at any time during an active membership. To join, the member contacts the SIG Chair, who contacts the Membership Services office to update the list of SIG members. To leave a SIG, one also need only contact its Chair, who informs the Membership Services office.
Chairing a SIG
The Chair holds the most crucial position in the SIG. Chairing a SIG enables one to contribute to, and demonstrate leadership in, the profession of museum information science, and thus it also affords opportunities for career growth and networking (SIG Chairs are considered likely candidates for Board nominations). Chairs' responsibilities are designed to be feasible for museum professionals with appropriate interest and only a reasonable number of hours per year, especially if the Chair involves other SIG members. Active SIGs generate more interest, making their contributions more significant; members get more from them and are more interested in helping out. A Chair should make every effort to involve SIG members actively in planning SIG activities and engaging in topical discussions on the MCN email list. SIG Chairs also may be asked to sit on Board Committees on a permanent or ad hoc basis; when requested, such service is optional.
SIG Chairs must be MCN members, and may volunteer for the position. Co-chairing is acceptable, and may be ideal in certain cases. If there is any contest over chairing a SIG, the Board chooses the Chair by vote. SIG Chairs retain the position as long as they wish and they continue to fulfill the duties of Chair. A Chair may step down at any time either voluntarily or if the Board decides, by vote, that the Chair is not fulfilling the position's duties. It is helpful if the outgoing Chair identifies a new Chair. If a new Chair is not forthcoming, the Board will solicit volunteers from the SIG membership and the general MCN membership. In advance of any change in Chairs, the current Chair should inform the SIG Liaison, who informs the Board of the planned change. A new SIG Chair may assume that role at any point, but it is preferable that these transitions happen at the MCN conference.
SIG Responsibilities
The Chair sees that a SIG's responsibilities are carried out, and is encouraged to fulfill them by working with other members of the SIG. (This fosters the development of future SIG Chairs). Each SIG has three core responsibilities:

  1. Plan and chair the annual SIG meeting. Each SIG holds one general meeting at the annual MCN conference, and may choose to hold others. The general meeting is a forum for welcoming new members, discussing news and questions germane to the SIG's area, and developing ideas for SIG-sponsored panels or workshops for the next year's MCN conference. The Chair develops an agenda for each meeting, and if possible should send it to the SIG's members, the conference's Program Coordinator, and the SIG Liaison one week in advance.
  2. Organize and propose at least one session or workshop in the SIG's area for the annual MCN conference.
  3. Maintain the SIG page on the MCN website. Maintaining the general look of the MCN site, each SIG's web page includes the SIG name, its statement of purpose, and contact information for its Chair. It also may offer such content as links to professional resources in the SIG's area, news or demonstrations of SIG projects, and other topical material.

In addition to these basic duties, a SIG may choose to take on a wide range of projects. These can include such things as:

  • Hosting "best of" or "best practices" awards in the SIG's area
  • Proposing and hosting sessions at other professional conferences
  • Participating in projects relevant to the SIG's area, potentially by serving as a sounding board of information professionals in the museum community, conducting surveys of this community, etc.
  • Creating such documentary resources as vendor listings, bibliographies, etc.
  • Developing training materials or programs in the SIG's area. These could be presented online or in workshops at the MCN conference and related venues.

SIG Resources
MCN makes resources available to each SIG to enable it to function effectively. Among these are:

  • Space on the MCN website for the SIG's web page
  • A time and space for meeting at the annual MCN conference
  • Use of the MCN name and logo in connection with all approved activities
  • Access to contact information from the MCN member database
  • This SIG Charter for general guidance
  • Access to the Board's SIG Liaison for any SIG-related questions

Dissolving a SIG
A SIG's dissolution must be approved by Board vote. After consultation with any remaining members, a recommendation to dissolve a SIG may come from its Chair or a Board member. Among the possible reasons for dissolution are low (or no) membership for a long period, or an area of interest rendered obsolete by changes in technology or the profession. Upon dissolving the SIG, the Board notifies the former SIG Chair (who notifies any former members), the MCN Website Editor (who makes relevant web updates), and the Membership Services office.
Charter drafted 9/23/1997 Richard Rinehart, MCN Board Member/President-elect; adopted by vote of MCN Board 10/19/1997 with changes to wording. Revised 6/27/2004 Rob Lancefield, MCN Board Member/SIG Liaison; revision adopted by vote of MCN Board 7/8/2004.
For information about SIGs, please contact Eric Longo, MCN Executive Director at: eric [at] mcn [dot] edu.