Magazine article American Libraries

Time to Pay for Excellence

Magazine article American Libraries

Time to Pay for Excellence

Article excerpt

These last few years have been the best of times and the worst of times for ALA: our most successful Annual Conference ever in Chicago in June 2005 (AL, Aug., p. 53-77); our largely successful work with others to educate public opinion on the iniquities of the USA Patriot Act; successful efforts by the Association's divisions and elsewhere on a wide range of continuing education activities; and the involvement of more than 20,000 members in the development of the ALA Ahead to 2010 strategic plan (AL, Nov., p. 6). In these and many other areas, ALA has been at or near the top of its game.

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These have also been difficult financial times for ALA. For each of the last five years, our Association has had to deal with declining budgets in real dollars, having to cut or freeze positions, and being unable to pursue the goals and aspirations of its members to the fullest extent. It is a tribute to Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels and the enormously effective ALA staff that they have managed those shrinking budgets so well. It is a tribute to those staff--and to members, and the volunteer contributions they make--that ALA has managed to be so effective in financial times that have tried their souls.

Almost every person who works in a library is familiar with having to do more with less year after weary year and with the concomitant stresses and strains. ALA has done well by making do, cutting budgets, trimming sails, keeping a sharp eye on expenditures, and generating revenues from conferences, publications, grants, and benefactions. The time has come to take our efforts to another level, to fully implement our strategic plan, and to fund all the things that ALA members wish their Association to do.

Seeking higher aspirations

A dues increase for personal members is an essential part of the funding of those higher aspirations (see p. 6). The prevailing national political idea is that desirable things can be funded with no one paying for them. I urge all ALA members to go against that grain and vote for a dues increase when it is presented to them--hopefully in the spring 2006 ALA election. Together with increased revenues from conferences, publications, etc., as well as fundraising, grants, and new products and services--all of which can only be generated by restoring some of ALA's lost human capital--the dues increase will enable the Association to work even more effectively in the areas identified as vital by the membership. …

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