|Dear LITA members,|
We’re writing about the implications of LITA’s budget for the upcoming 2020-21 fiscal year, which starts September 1, 2020. We have reviewed the budget and affirmed that LITA will need to disband if the Core vote does not succeed.
Since the Great Recession, membership in professional organizations has been declining consistently. LITA has followed the same pattern and as a result, has been running at a deficit for a number of years. Each year, LITA spends more on staff, events, equipment, software, and supplies than it takes in through memberships and event registrations. We were previously able to close our budgets through the use of our net asset balance which is, in effect, like a nest egg for the division.
Of course, that could not continue indefinitely. Our path towards sustainability has culminated in the proposal to form Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures. The new division would come with significant efficiencies for staff and programming that make it possible to continue our activities.
Starting at Midwinter 2020, we began learning about significant financial challenges at the ALA level. ALA used the net asset balances of the divisions in order to meet current expenses. In the assessment of LITA’s leadership, it is unlikely to be able to restore these funds. In forming a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, it is clear to LITA staff and leadership that we cannot operate without the net asset balance; it is not possible to compose a budget that both breaks even and includes the activities that make LITA, LITA.
Therefore we anticipate that fiscal year 2020-21 will be a transitional year: either completing the merger with ALCTS and LLAMA to create the new division Core, or phasing out LITA entirely. In the event that all three divisions do not vote in favor of Core, we will spend the year working through an orderly wind-down that includes transferring some key activities to other ALA units, where possible.
We regret to be the bearers of news that will surely sadden any of us who value LITA’s spirit and the friendships we’ve built within our division. We hope this will not be a surprise to longtime members, and we want to be as transparent as possible as we approach this important vote starting on March 9.
The LITA Board is fully supportive of the exciting possibility of Core, and we hope you are as well. We know this has been a disorienting time while we work towards a possible merger. We want you to know that we value your work, and we’re doing our best to make sure it will continue as part of Core. We believe the vote will pass and that we’ll spend the next year working together to expand support and resources for you to do even more in the future. We will share more details about the path we’ve chosen (including finances) after the vote.
Emily G. Morton-Owens, LITA President
Bohyun Kim, LITA Past President
Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, LITA Vice President/President Elect
Lindsay Cronk, LITA Director at Large
Tabatha Farney, LITA Director at Large
Jodie Gambill, LITA Division Councilor
Amanda L. Goodman, LITA Director at Large
Margaret Heller, LITA Director at Large
Hong Ma, LITA Director at Large
Berika Williams, LITA Director at Large
Topher Lawton, LITA Parliamentarian
I’m saddened but not surprised; I think this is an honest and responsible reaction to a correct analysis. I’m sure this was a difficult post to write and I respect all of you for your transparency and courage.
I am moreover proud of you and past Boards for the years of work that let us see this coming, and create the Core plan, thereby giving us an option to direct our futures rather than simply letting them happen to us. I’m deeply hopeful that the vote will pass and we will be able to create a new organization which not only is resilient but also allows for better member engagement and service.
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