Several times during the year, I report back to the membership on the financial health of the Association. Over time, these reports have shown a steady growth in the financial strength and capacity of the Association.
As I have said before, we continue to be completely transparent and regularly communicate with the membership about the finances of the Association.
As you are aware, we entered the year with a cautious outlook; however, ALA’s management made a number of organizational and operational changes, to ensure that expenses would be in line with revenues. This means that the ALA you see today is leaner than the ALA of the past.
Given the pressures we have faced over the last couple of years, management and staffers have done an extraordinary job in continuing to strengthen member services while moving forward on the Association’s strategic directions and programmatic priorities.
The final audit for fiscal year 2014 will be presented at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, but the preliminary results for the fiscal year, which ended on August 31, showed that last year, revenue exceeded expenses by $1.9 million. For the General Fund, which includes membership, conferences, publishing, and the ALA offices, revenue exceeded expenses by $606,000.
This positive outcome is due to a number of factors, including a strong 2014 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits and a very strong showing at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas; strong American Association of School Librarians and Public Library Association conferences; creative management in the publishing unit, including strong growth in RDA; and expense reductions across the Association and each of its divisions.
The 2014 fiscal year-end results have allowed the Executive Board to give ALA staff a 2% year-end organizational incentive for 2014. This well-deserved year-end incentive is in addition to a 2% salary increase for staff that was included in our 2015 budget, which began on September 1, 2014. ALA staff members are among our most valuable assets. They have done a great job over the last year, and deserve our recognition, appreciation—and a raise.
ALA has a unique budget situation. In addition to every dollar that members pay in dues, ALA generates another $4 in revenue from publishing, conferences, and our endowment. This means that our impact is much greater than it could ever be if we were totally dependent on member dues. All of the programs of the Association—advocacy, information policy, professional development, intellectual freedom, diversity, research, literacy, equitable access to information, international relations, recruitment, and the transformation of libraries—would be much, much smaller without this additional support.
This is why a financially strong Association is so important to our mission. If we are going to continue, as our mission statement says, to “provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all,” we’re going to need all the resources we can attract. Our colleagues, our libraries, and the millions and millions of people who depend on all types of libraries are counting on us to be there for them.
For those of you who will be at the 2015 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, I will be sharing more detailed information with the ALA Council, Planning and Budget Assembly and the full membership. More budget information can also be further reviewed on the treasurer’s page of ALA’s website.