ALA: So You Want To Have A Resolution?

From what I’ve read and seen so far prior to my first Council meeting, ALA Council generates a fair number of resolutions. For this reason, ALA Council has some established guidelines for preparing resolutions.

There are a number of documents associated with this process, including sample resolutions and suggestions for memorial and tribute resolutions. For this post I will focus on ALA Policy A.4.2.3 Council Resolutions: Guidelines for Preparation. The document helpfully begins by defining a resolution:

Definition: A resolution is a main motion, phrased formally, with (a) whereas clauses, stating the background and reasons for a proposed policy, advocacy position, or action), followed by (b) Resolved clauses in numbered order (stating the proposed policy, advocacy position, or action).

This is followed by 11 specific content guidelines. Guidelines that will help you understand why some resolutions fare better than others include (hyperlinks mine):

3. The resolution should address a specific topic or issue, use concise direct language, conform to proper grammar, and present an affirmative identifiable action.

4. The terms used in a resolution should be readily understandable or have specific definitions.

5. The intent, objective or goal of the resolution should be clear and purposeful.

6. Resolutions should clearly support ALA’s Strategic Plan, its mission and/or its core values*.

8. If the resolution calls for specific action or program with a timetable, the timetable shall be clear and achievable.

The content requirements are then followed by eight process requirements. For people outside of ALA Council, I think the most important of these requirements to bear in mind are:

1. All resolutions submitted by Council members must be sent to the ALA Resolutions Committee for review and must be accompanied by a completed ALA Resolution e-Form.

2. All resolutions, except memorial resolutions, tributes, and testimonials, must be submitted by either a voting member of Council or an ALA Committee chair; memorial resolutions, tributes, and testimonials are exempted.

4. A supplement explanation consisting of one or more expository paragraphs should accompany every resolution clearly stating how the resolution supports ALA’s Strategic Plan as well as its mission and/or its core values.

5. Resolutions must be submitted 24 hours prior to presentation to Council to allow time for reproduction and distribution. If there are fewer than 24 hours between the adjournment of Council II and the convening hour of Council III, resolutions may be submitted within 90 minutes following adjournment of Council II.

The Resolutions Committee must submit to the Executive Director and the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) all resolutions deemed to have fiscal implications at least 24 hours before they appear on the Council agendas so that BARC can provide fiscal information as required in by ALA policy. Standing committees of ALA and Council presenting resolutions to Council will follow the same process of submission to the Executive Director and BARC. Committee resolutions need no second.

I think these preparation guidelines will help me vote as a Councillor. Going into my first meeting, I plan on limiting “yes” votes to resolutions that carry some action, tributes and memorials being exceptions. I think we need to put action behind our words. I do reserve the right to change my mind once I have an actual meeting under my belt.

I won’t be introducing any resolutions of my own at Midwinter. As a first timer, I think it is more important to observe the process first hand than go tearing off on my own resolutions. If someone wanted me as a second on a resolution on government information or rural library issues, I’d be willing to do that. Though I get the impression that finding seconds is usually not a problem on Council.

*ALA’s Core Values are definitely worth reproducing here:

A.1.4 Core Organizational Values (Old Number 1.3.1)

The Association is committed to:

  • Extending and expanding library services in America and around the world
  • All types of libraries – academic, public, school and special
  • All librarians, library staff, trustees and other individuals and groups working to improve library services
  • Member service
  • An open, inclusive, and collaborative environment
  • Ethics, professionalism and integrity
  • Excellence and innovation
  • Intellectual Freedom
  • Social responsibility and the public good

See “Policy Reference File”: ALA Strategic Plan 2011-2015, ALA CD#36.2 – PDF, 8 pgs)

Note: For no other reason than word play, the Beatles song Revolution played in my head as soon as I started reading up on resolution procedures. 

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