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.