In the first action at its Midwinter Meeting sessions, held January 14, 17, and 19 in Boston, the ALA Executive Board voted to renew the Campaign for America's Libraries. The public-education effort showcasing the value of libraries and librarians, centered around the "@ your library" slogan and approved by the board five years ago (AL, Sept. 2000, p. 84), had been scheduled to end August 31.
Touting the campaign (EBD#12.24), Public Awareness Committee Chair Sally Reed stressed its popularity with the ALA divisions, which have begun using it themselves to promote their respective libraries, and cited various ongoing initiatives that are due to continue throughout the coming years. "We really want it to be the uniting message from ALA as a whole," she urged.
The board voted unanimously to extend the campaign for another five years, contingent on a positive recommendation by the Budget Analysis and Review Committee. Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels reminded the board that the campaign "has been 100% funded through donations, both through the Library Champions and through other fundraising," and that barring "unforeseen disaster," ALA is in a good position to continue it.
"We face a very difficult year," warned ALA Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff (EBD#12.26), who passed along the predictions of contacts on Capitol Hill that 2005 "is going to be the worst budget year in memory." President Bush has already announced plans to cut $1.4 billion from education programs; additionally, the e-rate will expire at the end of the year, and Sheketoff said it was likely that Congress "might decide to raid that pot of money and use it for something else." She added that "we expect bad copyright legislation, bad database legislation," and "bad trade treaties. Bad. Wherever you look, bad."
On January 6, Sheketoff said, Washington Office staff members hand-delivered a package of information on libraries to members of Congress. "We ultimately ended up putting a piece of information in every single congressional hand," she noted, adding that the office plans a similar effort with each issue that is introduced as legislation.
Representing the Finance and Audit Committee (F & A), Treasurer Teri Switzer reported (EBD#4.19) that ALA's revenues for the first quarter of FY 2005 are 7% less than budgeted, but expenses are 13% under budget. She said dues are trailing by about 4% and are expected to be $150,000 less than budget by year-end.
Switzer said the purchase of property to house the Washington Office (AL, Dec. 2004, p. 6) was proceeding on schedule. (The purchase subsequently closed on February 2.) An appraisal set the value at $3.5 million.
Concerned by the high cost of this year's audit (EBD#4.20), F & A recommended that the board encourage Fiels to negotiate a multiple-year, fixed-price contract with the audit firm, Ernst and Young; if that fails, Fiels would be authorized to issue an RFP. The board agreed to the recommendation.
The board approved new skeleton schedules for the 2006 Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio and Annual Conference in New Orleans (EBD#12.38), designed to standardize meeting slots for the two events and to create longer time slots for Council sessions. Discussion followed about what ALA President-elect Michael Gorman called "the ever-present discussion" of how to increase turnout at the notoriously underattended Membership Meetings. Gorman said that while the Membership Meetings Committee is planning to follow the tradition of holding two Membership Meetings at this summer's Annual Conference in Chicago, they are considering scheduling only one in 2006.
Sticking to business
Although activities held at Midwinter are supposed to be primarily business meetings, an increasing number of Midwinter events are essentially programs. Concerned over this "program creep," and recognizing the growing amount of the Association's business that is conducted online, the board charged the ALA Conference Committee a year ago with reviewing activities at Midwinter Meetings. …