May 22, 2013 - There's a lot more to running a meeting than simply banging a gavel and calling for votes.
Oxford Public Library Director Bryan Cloutier (left) received a copy of “Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised” from Linda Glisman, a member of the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Folks who wish to learn all the intricacies and formalities of parliamentary procedure will have a new resource to do so at the Oxford Public Library thanks to the Birmingham-based Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit (LSPU).
Last week, the group donated a copy of the 11th edition of "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised."
"I think there's a lot of people today that belong to a lot of different organizations and they really don't know parliamentary procedure," explained LSPU member Linda Glisman, who presented the book to Library Director Bryan Cloutier.
"That's fine if everything is very casual – everybody gets along and is like-minded. But that's not always the case."
That's where a book like "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised" comes in handy.
First published in 1876, the book is the most widely used parliamentary authority in the United States. Over the last 137 years, the book has been expanded and updated several times to incorporate various solutions to a wide variety of meeting situations and allow for both technological and societal changes that impact the way meetings are conducted.
"Certainly, we're very pleased to have this donation," said Cloutier, who noted the book isn't just a resource for citizens, it will serve as an aid to local government officials as well.
"With all of the different governmental units that we have within the village and the township (of Oxford), certainly 'Robert's Rules' plays a significant role in how they develop their meeting structure," Cloutier said. "Although it's not always followed, it's at least a guideline."
Glisman is hopeful that local high school students who are taking civics classes or who are just interested in how government works will take advantage of the fact that their local library now has updated copy to refer to and study. "Hopefully, they will check it out," she said.
Glisman took an interest in parliamentary procedure and ultimately joined LSPU because of her job working as the Oakland County outreach coordinator for Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Brighton).
"I go everywhere I possibly can to meet his constituents," she said.
As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rogers spends most of his time in Washington D.C., so it's Glisman's job to "connect the dots for people from here to Washington (D.C.) and from here to Lansing."
"He's extremely busy, so he doesn't get to come back to Michigan as much as he would like," she noted.
LSPU serves all of Oakland County. Membership is open to anyone interested in the study and/or practice of parliamentary procedure.
Parliamentary procedure refers to the commonly accepted way in which decision-making bodies, be they formal or informal, come together, consider potential courses of action and make decisions in a manner that's considered fair, consistent and a wise use of time.
LSPU is part of the larger National Association of Parliamentarians, the oldest and largest professional nonprofit group of its kind in the world. It's primary objective is to teach, promote and disseminate the philosophy and principles underlying the rules of deliberative assemblies.
Glisman noted it's LSPU's goal to donate a copy of "Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised" to every library in Oakland County.
"They've given away probably about 30 books already," she said.
LSPU meets on the third Tuesday of the month from September through May at the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham (1669 W. Maple Rd.). Meetings run from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
For more information about LSPU, please visit www.parliamentarians.org/mi/louisesaks/index.php or find the group on Facebook under "Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.