Midwinter Meeting Report from GLBTRT Councilor

The following is a message from Peter Hepburn, the GLBTRT’s Councilor.  He is a representative of the GLBTRT on ALA Council, the governing body of ALA.

Midwinter 2011 in San Diego, CA, has wrapped up, and I am most of the way home to Chicago (starting this on the plane home, finishing it in my office).  All in all, it seemed to be a very good conference indeed, and I was glad to see (and even room with) many of the RT members and supporters these past several days.

Before reporting on some Council activities, especially ones that have particular connection to the Round Table, I want to thank everyone in the Round Table who made this a successful conference for me and for us.  For starters, the Social was terrific.  Partnering with the Women’s Studies Section of ACRL was a smart idea, and I hope that the members of that section enjoyed themselves.

I also applaud the Book Awards Committee for their work:  it was a thrill to attend the Youth Media Awards for the first time and watch as the work of the Committee was so well-received there.  And not just there, but elsewhere in the Association – Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels pointed to the inclusion of the Stonewall Award in the Youth Media Awards event as a highlight of San Diego in his report to Executive Board.

I want to single out a few other individuals.  Taking over from the excellent John Sandstrom on Council was a big task, and having two resolutions to bring forward, I had my share of trepidation at first. Tom Wilding was beside me at two Council sessions, and he could not have been a more gracious, guiding, and calming presence.  Larry Romans was extremely helpful as well – a reasoned voice with welcome humour and great advice.  Meanwhile, I was fortunate in having Todd Krueger, David Vess, and Martin Garnar as not just terrific roommates but also as sounding boards.  Martin’s extensive knowledge of the Intellectual Freedom Committee and its processes remains especially invaluable.

And with those thanks (and I know there are more I’m omitting), onward with the report from the Council end of things!

I believe I have reported this before, but to reiterate, there were two resolutions coming from the Round Table.  The first, on language in job ads regarding inclusion of language on domestic partnership benefits underwent some real debate at Council I.  Many Councilors were torn between what they saw as a too-prescriptive resolution and a desire to support GLBT colleagues.  In the end, an amendment to soften the language came forward.  I do not have the precise text at hand, but in essence it diminished the requirement of such language to encouragement for its inclusion.  I voted against that amendment, but recognizing the wisdom of Tom Wilding (“Half a loaf is better than none”), I voted in favour of the amended resolution.  My reaction at the end of Council may be seen here:

The other resolution, regarding censorship at the National Portrait Gallery, involved more work before it came to Council.  I took it to the Intellectual Freedom Committee, and that body endorsed it in principle with little debate and with suggested revisions.  I accepted their suggestions, and then Larry Romans and I shared it with the Committee on Legislation.  That committee did not endorse it in principle as it came to them, but they indicated a willingness to do so based on contingencies they wanted.  The contingencies dramatically altered the resolution, including removing two key resolved clauses.  I thanked them and declined, and the resolution came to Council without any further alteration.  To my surprise and delight, the only Councilor who spoke up was the Intellectual Freedom Round Table Councilor, John Moorman.  He rose in support of the resolution, and with that, debate ended, a vote was called, and it passed resoundingly.

I was not able to come to RT Steering I on the Saturday morning, but I learned that all of the other resolutions that had been shared with Steering before Midwinter were endorsed in principle save for one in support of Wikileaks.  I used those decisions to inform my voting at Council, though I did not vote in favour of each resolution.  Some explanation:

A resolution on a “Do Not Patronize” list was debated at all three Council sessions.  At the first session, Council voted to postpone until the next day when ALA Legal Counsel could advise us in person.  It became apparent at Council II that she was uncomfortable not with the spirit of the resolution but with the potential for it to be challenged.  A substantive amendment quickly came forward, and debate was postponed again.  By the start of Council III, the amendment had been refined with guidance from Legal Counsel.  I viewed the amended resolution as meeting the Round Table’s endorsement in principle as well as being legally safer for the Association, and so I voted in favour of it.  The amendment failed, however, and when the original resolution came up for a vote soon after, I voted against it based on how Legal Counsel had addressed the issue.  The resolution failed.

There were two Wikileaks resolutions arising from the Social Responsibilities Round Table.  Before either could come to the floor, however, a broader resolution on access to information came forward from the Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Committee on Legislation.  It was well-written and considered, in my opinion, and I voted in favour of it.  It passed.  The ripple effect, however, is that when each of the Wikileaks resolutions came forward, Larry Romans moved to table (a permanent state) the resolution because Council had already voted on something that addressed the matter.  In each case, Council voted above the 75% threshold to table the motion, and, agreeing, I was one of those who voted that way.

One other action item of particular interest to the Round Table is that the Committee on Organization (COO) (on which I sit, as does RT member John De Santis), voted to approve a name change for the Round Table so that it would become the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table.  COO chair Jim Rettig brought that action item to Council in his report, and Council passed it without any debate or (so far as I could see) dissent.  Changes to the bylaws to mirror the name change will come to the membership on the spring ballot.

There were other action items in various reports that came to Council beyond these that I’ve listed.  Council actions should be linked from the page soon.  All the votes are a matter of record.  You may see how I voted on any matter through the link that should soon be posted to this page.

In closing, I again thank all of you for what you do to make Midwinter and the work of the Round Table a success, even if you were not there in San Diego or if I did not get an opportunity to talk with you.  I invite any and all of you to use the list to debate the actions by Council, and I similarly invite you to contact me directly with questions or conversation about them.

I hope everyone who was in San Diego made it home safely.  Ah, to be back there still….

Peter Hepburn
GLBTRT Councilor


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