You Say You Want A Resolution
With apologies to the Beatles. For the American Library Association Council, June 1999
A Day In The Life: Think of writing a resolution as an arrow: it has to have a point, and it has to be aimed at something.
Let It Be: Ask yourself: what do you want this resolution to do? Do you want to make something happen? Prevent something from happening? Add to something already happening?
Here Comes The Sun: Figure out what you want to happen, and then state it as clearly as you can. That’s your Resolved clause. That is what people vote on. You can have more than one Resolved clause, but if you do, it’s more likely your resolution will be amended or divided.
Rubber Soul: The Whereas clauses track how you got from Here to There. The Whereas clauses in a resolution set out your thinking on the matter and give the reasons for the action in the Resolved clauses. Although the actual vote will be on the Resolved clause, what you say in the Whereas clauses will appear in print after the resolution is passed, and has a major influence on whether other Councilors will vote your way.
Come Together: Do your homework: what is ALA current policy? Try to find out how the policy got there – it will illuminate pitfalls and pratfalls that those who have gone before have dealt with.
Can’t Buy Me Love: There are almost always fiscal implications to actions, and nothing can move forward in ALA without decisions being made about how ALA’s money will be spent. Anything with fiscal implications needs to be submitted to BARC for fiscal analysis, which will provide an estimated cost, if possible, or recommend later referral.
A Hard Day’s Night: Watch your timing. If you have to get your resolution to BARC, another division, or the Policy Monitoring Committee, or if you need to check with veteran Councilors about previous versions of a question, give yourself enough time.
I Am The Walrus: Watch your language. Many Council resolutions fail because of fuzzy, imprecise, or unnecessarily inflammatory language. Councilors want to know exactly what they are voting on, and many will vote against a resolution whose conclusion they agree with because the language is too broad, too unfocused, or too edgy.
Helter Skelter: Sometimes, a resolution is meant simply to draw attention to and foster debate about an issue. If that is your arrow, let it fly.
Sunday June 27, 1999, 9 pm, Marriott LaGalerie #6; followed by dessert
GraceAnne A. DeCandido & Karen G. Schneider