Magazine article American Libraries

Austerity and Opportunity

Magazine article American Libraries

Austerity and Opportunity

Article excerpt

The great irony of this year's ALA Annual Conference in Chicago is that while attendees from across the country were collectively commiserating about the sad state of library budgets, they were simultaneously breaking attendance records. But soaring conference attendance numbers, like skyrocketing library usage stats, do not automatically translate into celestial revenue numbers (see report, p. 70).

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Revenue was also a concern of the American Libraries Advisory Committee, which met during the conference to discuss this magazine's ever-changing role as a communications vehicle, a membership perk, and a revenue generator. The message I took away from the meeting is that the development of valuable professional reading for the magazine should take top priority over the delivery mechanism, print or electronic.

I explained to the committee that our decision to combine the August and September issues this year was a one-time response to the financial crunch and staff reductions ALA recently experienced, but that led to a discussion of what and how much content AL needs to continue to deliver in print through the U.S. Postal Service.

Since I became AL editor in 1996, technology has enabled us to bring production in-house; we developed a website, created an online news feed, started the weekly AL Direct e-newsletter, and began producing videos, digital supplements, and blogs. But the current fiscal climate presents us with an opportunity, if you will, to assess the ability of these products to deliver content effectively as well as generate advertising revenue. …

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