The ALA Executive Board sailed through its spring meeting, May 3-4 at ALA Headquarters in Chicago, propelled by the prospect of a healthy FY 1998 budget with new initiatives in the rapidly changing landscapes of cyberspace and cultural diversity.
The meetings followed several days of board subcommittee meetings combined with interviews and meetings with staff and the three candidates - Christopher Damon, Elaine Didier, Keith Fiels - vying for the ALA executive director post to be vacated in August by Elizabeth Martinez (AL, May, p. 11). Deliberations were held in closed session, and the new ED was expected to be named before Annual Conference in San Francisco this month.
CyberQuilt and Spectrum
The board moved ahead with the Spectrum diversity initiative (AL, Apr., p. 75) by adopting a financial plan (EBD#12.12) that it hopes will ensure the best long-term return on investments. The three-year program aims to provide 50 minority students per year with $5,000 scholarships to study library and information science.
Meanwhile, a new initiative brought forward by Carol Henderson, director of the ALA Washington Office, met with enthusiastic approval. CyberQuilt, as it has been tentatively named, is envisioned as a nationwide digital public library of community cultural or historical and government information organized by state. CyberQuilt is still in the planning stages, with unveiling targeted for the 1998 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
Henderson and Andrew Magpantay, director of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), updated the board on a number of Washington issues, including plans for Library Legislative Day, which many board members planned to attend (see p. 15).
Board member Charles Brown announced that three minority fellows would be selected for '98 - in OITP, the Office for International Relations, and the Spectrum initiative. ALA Human Resources Director Dorothy Ragsdale presented a workforce analysis (EBD#12.14) showing that 82 of ALA's 250 employees are minorities. "The numbers are good and we're improving," said Ragsdale, noting that of 26 recently hired staff, six were ethnic minority.
An aggressive budget for FY 1998
An ALA Council-approved strategic plan with the priorities of diversity, literacy, intellectual freedom, equity of access, and continuous education guided the creation of the FY 1998 budget, said Martinez. Associate Executive Director for Finance Gregory Calloway presented details (EBD# 3.6, #3.6.1, #3.6.2). Among the initiatives are $500,000 for a new association management system (reviewed for the board by Information and Telecommunication Systems Director Larry Hersam), $150,000 for staff training and development, a $50,000 publishing reinvestment to explore new products, and $75,000 for a compensation study.
Calloway noted that the general-fund $22,402,345 total was a 6.3% increase over FY 1997 and projected a $1.3-million increase in revenue. Targeted to produce the additional dollars are Membership, Publishing (EBD#10.5), and Conference Services. Conference registration fees will rise by $10, but Associate Executive Director for Member Programs and Services Mary Ghikas pointed out that it will remain low in relation to comparable conferences.
There was concern over the impact that the Association of College and Research Libraries' decision to transfer a significant amount from its fund balance to its endowment might have on the overall budget plan. …