I just know that everyone is as excited about the ALIA annual general meeting as I am! It’s been marked in my calendar for months. Sure, that’s cos I have to go and it involves interstate travel, but still. When I was in Singapore I went to the IFLA AGM by choice, and I enjoyed it, so there is fun to be had at these things.
This blog post is another in my unofficial series of “Why you should care about this governance stuff”. I’m going to try and convince you to a) come to the AGM, if you’re in Canberra, or b) send your votes in by proxy. The main reason you should do this is because those who vote at the AGM get to make decisions for all ALIA members, and there’s usually only a very small number of people, so it’s not very representative. You can do something quite simple to change that.
At last year’s AGM there were no special resolutions on which to vote, but this year there are – in fact there are 26 of them, and yes, each one gets voted on individually. There is method in this madness. There are 26 changes to ALIA’s constitution that the board has recommended. Rather than bundle them all together, risking an “all or nothing” vote, each one is being voted on separately. You can find details of all of them here.
Now, I may have gotten your hopes up about these constitutional changes. The fact is that they’re not very radical. There were more radical changes that were discussed, at length, by the board, but none of them survived the board voting process. So what we’re left with are mostly uncontroversial wording changes.
Special resolution 10 allows us to reduce the number of members required for a quorum at the AGM from 21 to 11. It’s basically there to make it easier to get a quorum – there’s not that many members in Canberra that come along to the AGM, despite the free wine (did I mention free wine? There’s free wine! C’mon, what kind of librarian are you?) More interestingly, special resolution 11 will allow attendance and voting at the AGM by “electronic link”, that is, remote attendance and voting. This is a good thing, and will bring us into the modern age. Although you’ll have to provide your own wine if you attend remotely.
Special resolution 13 proposes moving the information about the national advisory congress (NAC) from the constitution into a by-law. This is not a sneaky way to stop holding the NAC. ALIA has every intention of continuing to hold the NACs, but having this in the constitution gives us very little flexibility – not the least because any change requires a vote of members, such as this one.
While to my mind the other resolutions are uncontroversial, I do encourage you to read through the list – you might object to something that I find mundane, and I don’t want you to think I’m discouraging you from paying attention. Quite the opposite.
Now, my point: you can vote on these resolutions even if you can’t attend the meeting. How? Through the magic of proxies! You can give your proxy (i.e. your vote) to another ALIA member by filling out a simple form. The person holding your proxy can hold multiple proxies – there is no limit.
When you give this other member your proxy you can give them a directed or undirected proxy. If you give them a directed proxy, you are saying “You can vote on my behalf, but you must vote this way” and you specify whether you support or oppose each resolution. If you give them an undirected proxy, you are saying “You can vote on my behalf, vote however you like”. If you know which way someone is going to vote, and you agree with them, it’s common to give them an undirected proxy. It’s possible for one person to hold both directed and undirected proxies – they may have 2 proxies to vote for a resolution and 3 voting against it. It can be complicated for them to keep track, but we’re all smart people.
So, again to my point: you can vote at the AGM without even going! All you need to do is find a member who is going, who is willing to take your proxy. You then put their details, and your voting instructions (if any), on the ALIA AGM page. You must submit this form before 5pm Monday 19th May, or it will all be for naught.
I’m going. Even though I am a director, I can hold proxies. I’m willing to take directed or undirected proxies. If you would like to give me your proxy, stick my name and membership number (048016) on that form.
It’s very easy to be represented at the AGM – you just need to make a little bit of effort to do so.