Background on Our Budget

Reinvigorating support for service imperatives

October 15, 2012

The past year has been challenging for ALA, reflecting both the difficult economic conditions affecting libraries across the US and our continuing focus on a strong Association that serves its members and supports the work of libraries and the needs of their users.

ALA is ending FY2012 with a deficit. This reflects lower-than-­expected revenue from conference exhibits and registration at Annual. It is also a product of delays in the final approval by the Library of Congress in the rollout of Resource Description and Access (RDA), and libraries’ temporary reluctance to invest in this successor to AACR2. ALA management and staff have been able to reduce expenditures to partially offset these shortfalls, but we are ending the year with a deficit in the general fund (the administrative and program offices, conference services, publishing, and membership). As was the case last year, this deficit will be covered by the Association’s reserve fund, which we have built up over the last decade to provide such rainy-day assistance.

The outlook for the FY2013 budget is stronger. Historically, both our Midwinter and Annual Conference sites, Seattle and Chicago, have been very robust in attendance and vendor support. RDA will be moving forward, and the new publishing imprints of Neal-Schuman and Huron Street Press will be fully implemented. ALA’s continuing education capabilities will advance further and the global markets for ALA products and services will improve. Programmatically, the FY2013 budget reflects very little growth. There will be a 1% increase in staff salaries, and $100,000 has been allocated to support the Digital Content and Libraries initiative. It is important to note that between 2008 and 2010, the ALA general fund was reduced by $4 million and 30 positions were lost.

There are also a number of important initiatives that are designed to strengthen ALA’s capacity to better serve members, libraries, and the public. The first is the successful completion in FY2012 of a three-year Spectrum fundraising campaign, which raised more than $1.26 million. This will provide nearly 250 scholarships over the next five years. Thanks to all who donated!

The second is the acquisition of Neal-Schuman Publishers as a new ALA imprint. Its positive financial impact on our publishing program will increase over the next several years. As the leading imprint in library and information science textbooks and practical professional publications, Neal-Schuman is a perfect fit with ALA’s expanding online continuing education initiative.

The third is the “Fifteen by Fifteen” planned giving campaign launched this fall. The goal is to improve ALA’s long-term financial health by encouraging members and supporters to include the Association and its divisions, offices, and round tables in their personal estate plans. Our goal is to achieve $15 million in commitments by 2015. We are making excellent progress.

Lastly, we will be discussing over the next couple of months a new approach to ALA dues. The strategy, which ACRL and PLA have already implemented, would tie dues to the annual consumer price index. Thus, dues would gradually keep pace with inflation, and larger dues increases every couple of years would no longer be required.

All these developments help to advance an ALA that is financially stronger and positioned to better serve its members. While my focus as ALA treasurer has been on the fiscal and budget aspects of the Association, all of us who serve as elected officers know that our goals are to help libraries of all types work effectively for their users and to advance support for library workers in their many service settings.