Magazine article American Libraries

Management Votes to Dissolve Fund

Magazine article American Libraries

Management Votes to Dissolve Fund

Article excerpt

The Fund for America's Libraries has been gasping for breath almost since it first inhaled, so the decision of the ALA Executive Board to dissolve the fund and return Association fundraising to a development office came as no surprise at the board's fall meeting in Chicago, November 5-7. Executive Director William Gordon presented a detailed proposal on the fund's fate, enlisting Joan Ress Reeves, cochair of the fund board, who concurred by phone with his recommendations. Although Reeves had been reluctant to see the fund dissolved, she finally agreed with President Sarah Ann Long's assessment that it was in the best interests of ALA.

Gordon's plan (Executive Office Document-1999-VI) states that the fund has struggled since its creation in 1995 as a separate 501(c)3 at the hand of then--Executive Director Elizabeth Martinez "to achieve positive name recognition with the ALA membership, to reach its targeted fundraising goals, and to establish an organizational structure that would enable it to develop to its fullest potential." It has been stymied in these efforts, and with the departure of its director, Walter Hansen, in September (AL, Oct., p. 7) and of its associate/acting director Stuart Whitwell in October, the writing was on the wall.

The transfer of the fund to an ALA development office will be implemented "as quickly as possible," said Gordon. A new development officer, reporting to the executive director, will be hired, and the fund board will meet to formalize the Executive Board's action.

Onward with public awareness

While the fund was taking its last breath, new initiatives were coming alive, including a national public-awareness campaign being hatched in cooperation with a public relations firm. Jennifer Sosin of the Washington office of BSMG Worldwide presented the board with an outline of a "public education campaign" that ALA Associate Executive Director for Communications Peggy Barber is overseeing. To be announced at ALA's Midwinter Meeting in January, the campaign will be rolled out at Annual Conference in July.

The public relations effort is one way the board is embracing its role as a planning body. Taking it a step further, James Neal facilitated a follow-up session to the board's October planning retreat (EBD#1.8, #1.9), during which the board agreed that public awareness, continuing education, and equitable access were goals that should be brought forward at Midwinter as part of a package of objectives and strategies aimed at taking ALA to 2005 (EBD#12.10).

As a means of unifying the Association's public message, the board decided that future ALA presidents should work within the established theme of the media campaign. Vice-president/President-elect Nancy Kranich announced (EBD#7.1) that her presidential year will center on advocacy, information literacy, public policy, and assistance to countries with emerging democracies.

Noteworthy along financial lines was the announcement that the ALA Endowment Trustees (EBD#13.1-2) have achieved their goal (set three years ago) of growing the endowment to $10 million by 2000. The board also stamped approval on the FY2000 budget, totaling $42,940,059 (EBD#4.4), and voted to exclude mutual funds from the Association's long-term investment portfolio because they are not conducive to active growth management (EBD#13. …

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