Web Advisory Committee, the Dues Increase, and TANSTAAFL

Michelle Frisque, ALA WAC chair, will no doubt have far more fulsome coverage of this meeting later on, but as a WAC member, I wanted to share that we said our piece to Jim Rettig, ALA Executive Board member and WAC liasion, regarding the importance of ensuring that the ALA dues increase would support ALA’s technology infrastructure, and Jim strongly underscored that funding IT for ALA was indeed a priority. I buttonholed Keith Fiels on the same topic after our ALA-APA Council meeting this morning, and Keith pointed out that 25% of the strategic plan is technology-related.

The real question boils down to whether ALA members can give up three lattes next year to help ALA catch up after a decade of no dues increases. Many of us have informally voiced our concern that ALA needs to make a strong case for what we won’t be able to afford if the dues increase is defeated. ALA has trimmed and cut and scraped away at its structure to the point where there ain’t nowhere else to cut. Other revenue streams–primarily publications and conferences–have become increasingly slender as other costs rise, and as we know from Toronto (and New Orleans may remind us again) that some of the things that can compromise our revenue stream are unknown, unpredictable, and out of our control.

LITA Board has gone on record as stating that it the dues increase should happen at once, not be phased in, and I wish we had made that point much earlier, because phasing in the dues may not be good for divisions. But that’s not on the table (the official answer, when I asked why the dues increase was being phased in, was literally “That’s the way we did it last time”). What IS on the table is a too-small, phased-in increase that if it’s turned down will have bad repercussions for ALA.

I hope someone at 50 East Huron spells out just what will–or more accurately, won’t–happen if the members don’t support the dues increase. In the meantime, ask yourself where you’d be if your organization had been flat-funded for a decade.

6 thoughts on “Web Advisory Committee, the Dues Increase, and TANSTAAFL”

  1. You asked the question, so I will answer it. Exactly where we are today! Our library has received the same dollar amount in our budget for the last 15 years. I support an ALA dues increase but don’t think that ALA is the only organization that has not had a budget increase in a decade. It is a bad analogy.

  2. Here’s what I heard, in my capacity of (physically-present) electronic member of the ALA Membership Committee, from several days ago with vendor receptions in between the hearing and the recall…

    Some of what willl happen with an approved dues increase:

    ALA Staffing improvements

    -filling the staff positions that have been “held open” — some of which are development positions tasked with raising non-dues revenue
    -Administrivia (salaries, etc for ALA staff – not a whole lot of this, though)

    Several identified improvements that require ) of the larger ALA organization on the Membership Committee, the organization needs a dues increase (in my apparently unpopular opinion, we are not making a large enough increase and we should just do it rather than attempt to ease the pain over a few years).

    I urge you to review the ALA 2010 site. Read what we, the members, told ALA staff they ought to work toward for us. There should be a stream of Keith Fiels making the presentation he made to many ALA and Divisional Committee meetinsg at MidWinter.

    For the record I understand, and sympathize with many, arguments put forward opposing this increase (obviously I’m assuming Council will vote it onto the ballot at this point). However, we are at a critical juncture – both within and outside our profession and our professional association. If we fail to stand for the broad ideals, which underpin what we do and live, we will have done a vast disservice to ourselves and our future.

    ALA 2010:
    http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/governingdocs/aheadto2010/future.htm

  3. Here’s what I heard, in my capacity of (physically-present) electronic member of the ALA Membership Committee, from several days ago with vendor receptions in between the hearing and the recall…

    Some of what willl happen with an approved dues increase:

    ALA Staffing improvements

    -filling the staff positions that have been “held open” — some of which are development positions tasked with raising non-dues revenue
    -Administrivia (salaries, etc for ALA staff – not a whole lot of this, though)

    Several identified improvements that require (I had a “less-than sign” here which caused the truncation)$3,000 – $7,000 each

    -website and http://communities.ala.org improvements
    -streamlining several member benefits processes
    -better Round Table and Divisional support
    -improved legislative advocacy support (the research portions of which are mostly grant funded, already)

    Currently ALA generates $4 for every $1 generated from dues, plans for some revenue from the raised dues are targetted at generating an additional $2 for each extra $1 from dues.

    My impressions for what *won’t* happen if we choose to not increase dues:

    Important pieces of ALA 2010, which was developed with input from a large majority of ALA members will fail, possibly spectacularly – depending on which fail.

    -Development will fall off
    -Legislative Advocacy (including research as the ground support withers) will suffer
    -Intra-Association communication will not systematically improve

    In short, from my exalted view (not *in* my exalted view -grin- (I had a “greater-than sign” here which closed the anchor) of the larger ALA organization on the Membership Committee, the organization needs a dues increase (in my apparently unpopular opinion, we are not making a large enough increase and we should just do it rather than attempt to ease the pain over a few years).

    I urge you to review the ALA 2010 site. Read what we, the members, told ALA staff they ought to work toward for us. There should be a stream of Keith Fiels making the presentation he made to many ALA and Divisional Committee meetinsg at MidWinter.

    For the record I understand, and sympathize with many, arguments put forward opposing this increase (obviously I’m assuming Council will vote it onto the ballot at this point). However, we are at a critical juncture – both within and outside our profession and our professional association. If we fail to stand for the broad ideals which underpin what we do and live we will have done a vast disservice to our future.

    If you’re wondering, I will be voting for the increase – it is a burden on my home budget, but I feel we cannot afford to mark time and the lose ground we have maintained and gained in recent years.

    ALA 2010:
    http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/governingdocs/aheadto2010/future.htm

  4. We are better off in some ways but not in others. It is a mixed bag. Many academic libraries are in the same boat. Decreasing book purchases to support online resources and serials.

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