Merlin Meetings Guide

The Consortium shall hold at least four regularly scheduled meetings per year.  Any Consortium participant may submit items for inclusion in meeting agendas to the Chair.  The agenda shall be determined by the chair.  NWLS staff shall distribute agendas and materials for meetings via email at least 7 days prior to the date of the meeting.

A quorum shall be required to conduct business.  51% of all Consortium membership, including those participating remotely and NWLS staff, constitutes a quorum.  Proxies are not counted in attendance to determine a quorum.

Consortium meetings may be conducted by telephone or video conferencing provided synchronous communication is possible among every other member and others in attendance at the meeting.  Members may participate in a meeting through such means, and members shall be counted for quorum purposes and their votes shall be counted when determining actions of the Consortium.

Special meetings will be called by the Chair, upon the request of the majority of participating libraries, and such meetings will be held within one month of the request.

All regular meetings will be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order.

Parliamentary Procedures Quick Reference

Merlin meetings follow formal parliamentary procedures similarly used for board of trustee meetings:

  • Meeting members are encouraged to make motions and seconds.
  • Members may cast a yes (aye), no (nay) vote as well as abstain from the vote.
  • Once a rule, standard, or guideline is adopted or approved by the Consortium, ownership is held by all.  There should be no one acting on their own behalf contrary to any approved rule.
  • For particular rules pertaining to the Merlin Consortium, please see the By-Laws.
  • The abridged helpers below are taken from Roberts Rules of Order.

General Rules

Once a member makes a motion and the motion is seconded (the member who makes a second may do so even if only to move the process along), the Chair restates the motion.  Any modification of the motion by the maker must come before the Chair calls the vote.  Debate can also occur at this time.  When the Chair concludes that debate has ended he/she will call for the vote, restating the motion.  Members vote.  The Chair announces the results of the vote.

Debate Rules
Every member has a right to speak on every debatable motion before it is finally acted upon.  The maker of the motion has the privilege of starting debate.  Each speaker is typically allotted 10 minutes of debate for each time they are on the floor to speak and are given no more than two chances to debate per question. Unconsumed time left by the speaker is charged to that speaker.  While debate is in progress, amendments or secondary motions can be introduced, debated, and disposed of as well.  The Chair must provide ample opportunity for debate before closing deliberation in order to call for the vote.

Debate decorum
Speakers are advised to practice the following customs in order to carry out debate in a smooth and orderly manner.

  • Confine remarks to the pending issue or motion.
  • Refrain from speaking on a prior action that is not pending.
  • Refrain from speaking against one’s own motion.
  • Refrain from attacking a member’s motives.
  • Refrain from interrupting another speaker who already has the floor.
  • Refrain from disturbing the assembly (with whispering, side conversations, etc).  Corrective action is left to the Chair judgment.
  • Avoid reading from reports, quotations, etc. without permission.*
  • Avoid using a member’s name.*
  • Address all remarks through the Chair.*

*These last three may be a tad too formal for the necessity of our group.

Other Motion Activity

Amending motions
A motion to amend is generally a motion to modify the wording of a pending motion before the pending motion is acted upon (with exception to something already adopted, i.e. By-Laws).  An amended motion requires a second and can also be amended and debated before a final action is made.

Certain motions cannot be amended.  These include a Call to Order, Adjournment, Permission to Red Papers, Withdrawn motions, motions to Table, and motions to amend an amendment of a pending motion.

Withdrawing Motions and Seconds
The member who made the second has the right to withdraw the second if the motion is withdrawn by the maker.  The Chair will then announce that the motion is withdrawn.  

Dead Motions
A motion may also die if it lacks a second and the Chair will move to the next order of business.  The length of time to wait for a second is at the discretion of the Chair.

Relationships of motions
A secondary motion can be made and seconded while a main motion is pending.  If two motions are on the floor, the main (first) motion ranks lowest and yields to the second motion for action before returning to finish action on the main motion.

Defeated motions
A defeated motion can be brought up again but not in the same session/meeting.

Tabling Items
A motion to Lay on the Table (or Table) is often misused.  Normally, a motion to Table is made to temporarily place a pending question aside in order to address a more urgent matter.  Once the urgent matter is resolved, the question of the Tabled item can be resumed at the will of the majority.

If a motion to Table is made with the intention to kill or avoid dealing with an issue, the motion is out of order.  In such cases, a motion to Postpone to a Certain Time is a better choice of motion.

To Commit or Refer
A motion to Commit or Refer is used to send a pending question to a committee for careful investigation and clearer definition for assembly consideration.

Meeting Recess
A recess of the meeting does not require a motion if the Chair declares the recess or if the agenda provides a suggested recess period.

Meeting adjournment
Adjournment of the meeting does not require a motion if the Chair calls the meeting adjourned.

Point of Order
A ‘point of order’ is called as a claim for breached parliamentary procedure and requires a Chair ruling.

NWLS Contributions to Meetings

NWLS shall also be deemed participants in the Consortium.  While NWLS staff members mainly participate in meetings in an advisory capacity, NWLS provides a unique role to the Consortium and qualifies as an equal stakeholder:
•    By managing the Merlin service program for the system,
•    By being ILS vendor consultants and providing expertise on the software,
•    By using Merlin for the Mail-a-Book program, and
•    By contributing the second highest amount of any other member toward overall Merlin costs (annual costs and capital fund contributions).
Holding a position at NWLS does not remove the rights of NWLS as a member of the Consortium.  NWLS staff members thus can add meeting agenda items, make motions and seconds, and participate in debate.   The main difference in regards to other members is that all NWLS staff are ex-officio non-voting members of the Consortium.

Other Rights
The NWLS Office Manager will hold the office of Treasurer.  The Merlin Secretary shall record the attendance at all Consortium meetings and record and submit the minutes to NWLS staff for distribution. NWLS staff shall distribute agendas and materials for meetings via email at least 7 days prior to the date of the meeting.