Saturday afternoon, I decided to attend the first membership meeting of ALA2005. These are the meetings where members vote on resolutions and ALA policies. I believe the current quorum is set at 80 members – if that many are present, items can be voted up or down. I doubt there was a huge amount more than that in attendance.
I missed the beginning, and came in on the tail end of a discussion on whether or not to create discount memberships for retired Librarians. I voted for it, and it passed by a large margin. Democracy in action, I thought!
Then, the next item came up – and dominated the remaining half hour of the session. I’ll try to locate the resolution text on the ALA web site, but for now here’s a transcription of a somewhat blurry photo I took of the projected text (click on it at the top of this entry for a larger version).
Resolution on the Connection between the Iraq War and Libraries, MD#7
Resolved that the American Library Association calls for the immediate and unconditional withdraw from Iraq of all U.S. military forces, and the return of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq.
Resolved that the United States provide material assistance through the United Nations for the reconstruction of Iraq, including its museums, libraries, schools, and other cultural resources.
Resolved that this resolution be sent to all members of congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the President of the United States, and the [word blocked in photo, possibly press].
Ultimately it passed, but only after one member moved to end discussion and just vote already – otherwise it never would have been resolved in that session and probably would still be up in the air.
The discussion was… intense. It quickly devolved into emotional pleas, that while passionate really had nothing to do with the resolution itself.
I for one, think this resolution never should have even come up for a vote. Whether it was voted up or down, either way the ALA would probably upset a good portion of the population. That’s something libraries (especially public) as a whole can’t afford right now.
And on a practical matter – do people really think that if we did withdraw all troops tomorrow (unrealistic to begin with), that we’d just be able to waltz back in with construction equipment instead?
While the discussion would have gone on for a very long time without voting to bring the resolution to a vote (I just noticed how complicated that phrase is), I think it could have done good to not cut things off. Had speaking continued, it would have been suspended for the night when the session ended. Discussion would have been picked back up today, with possibly a larger audience once word spread, and hopefully cooled down heads. But what’s done is done, I suppose.
Still an interesting experience, even if I was disappointed with the outcome.