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Lauren Pressley's picture

Update from the Fall ALA Joint Boards Meeting

As you probably know, ExCo met in late October, and we wanted to make sure that you knew what went on. We met and had preliminary discussions that we'll also hold as part of the larger group in our upcoming meetings.

Forum Steering Committee

General report is that things went well. A few hitches are reported, but next committee will be able to incorporate that feedback. We were able to stream out the keynotes, and streamed in the final keynote due to a last minute health emergency. Forum really needs more sponsors. We should think about who we know, and if we have any recommendations, let Mary know. The upcoming theme is about the maker movement, so we might have some creative opportunities for vendors there.

Also, a very small number of board members were in attendance. Is there a way we can have more LITA leadership at the conference? One idea ExCo batted around, that we look forward to batting around with the larger board, is the idea that perhaps we could hold new board member orientation at Forum. If we were to do this, candidates would be told before they committed to running, and current board members and those running could be grandfathered in without the requirement.

Budget Review Committee

Generally, we're seeing the same news we've been seeing: loss of members and running a deficit. However, the deficit is less than we expected! We discussed the work of the previous and upcoming financial taskforces and also discussed a proposal to tie dues increases to CPI, and this will be the major topic of conversation in our November meeting. Part of the dues discussion came from that ALA will be bringing forth a dues increase this year. Of course, if LITA were to decide to go forward with this, we'd want to get feedback from members and make sure to emphasize quality of service. Look for an executive summary from Colleen, Zoe, and Cindi before our November meeting.


ExCo discussed possible means for refreshing the Top Tech Trends format. We discussed different approaches including picking a topic and finding experts around that area. Zoe is going to work with the new chair to help them get started. Talked about the possibility later on of also tasking the committee with coming up with related position papers or resolutions for Council based on the TTT information.

Zoe is exploring the possibility of an author presenting the LITA President’s Program.

Cindi is coming up with plans for the Town Hall Meeting that will enable small groups to consider different scenarios for a future vision of LITA. Please remember, Board attendance is required at this session!

Joint Boards Meeting

We also met in joint session with members of the other ALA divisions' Boards, ALA leadership and staff and the ALA Executive Board on Friday afternoon for a session lead by ALA President, Maureen Sullivan on "Reimagining ALA" It was an activity in Appreciative Inquiry, with small groups thinking about strengths of ALA, then sharing back to the group. From my WFU experience, AI is a way of gathering information about what you're already good at to figure out what to build on in the future. Maureen did something kind of similar with the Council last conference, so I suspect we'll see this type of information gathering going forward. In fact, Strategic Thinking will be on the agenda for our Saturday Board meeting in Seattle to discuss further this topic and provide additional feedback to Maureen and ALA leadership.

Anyway, we thought you'd want to know. Please comment if there are any questions!

Aaron Dobbs's picture

Regarding this item: "discussed a proposal to tie dues increases to CPI, and this will be the major topic of conversation in our November meeting"

TL;DR summary: Adding a new LITA member is worth an equivalent amout to raising dues by $1 for 60 members. Recruitment and retention is more important that raising dues.


  • If LITA has 3,000 members, raising dues by a dollar a year gets us an "extra" $3,000/year
  • Every 50 new members, gets us an 'extra' $3,000
  • YALSA added 4,000 members over 3 or 4 years about 6 years ago;
    if LITA did the same thing, that would net us an 'extra' $240,000 income over 3-4 years

As I've said in several other fora, an incremental annual increase in dues is not the answer to the problems facing LITA/ALA/Associations. The answer is to become and be perceived as relevant to potential new members. YALSA is the most recent example of this I can think of in ALA-land.

How did they do it?

My impression is that YALSA's Executive Director and YALSA leadership came out, guns blazing, about how YALSA could/would/will/*and does* advance the skills of Young Adult Librarians in school and public libraries.

A volunteer leadership cadre is great for a volunteer association, but YALSA's example seems to say that internal (Association Staff) people shuld launch a major push; the volunteers are better positioned to support and promote it while the staff coordinate the message and the administration.

My impression of the YALSA rebuild is they adapted the (by then well-established) LITA IG model -- but that LITA model isn't really working to draw members for LITA anymore.

As a tangent from the dues structure which might be beneficial to the recruitment/retention solution:

Perhaps the already-streamlined LITA model needs some serious consideration of reducing overall governance structure size?

  • Is there a need for a Board and an Exec Committee?
  • Would an Exec Co and a Council of Committee Chairs work just as well / better?
  • Where are the communications breakdowns?
  • Many other questions

Without an active mechanism with a successful message to bring in new members, solvency can only be achieved by raising dies on an increasingly smaller membership. That's just not sustainable.


"Always remember everyone is working to make the organization better in their own way."
-Eli Mina, ALA Parliamentarian

John Blyberg's picture

I'm a little confused.  When we met in Anaheim, we all agreed that we would create a financial task force to review LITA's current budgetary situation.  We haven't done that and a task force has not met to investigate or make reccomendations so I'm not sure how the work of a non-existant body could be discussed.  What were the nascent points discussed about the report that was presented to the board in January?  What information and feedback was ExCo using as the basis for its discussion on the raising of LITA member dues--a move that the January report strongly discouraged?

We passed a budget in Anaheim that did not reflect a deficit.  Are you telling us that there is now a projected deficit?  We need to be prepared to talk about why that is.

If LITA membership numbers are still declining, then we need to have a serious discussion about the value of LITA and under what circumstances might we think that it's OK to charge existing members more for something whose (percieved or real) value is diminishing.

What other alternatives to raising dues were dicussed as options to balance our budget?  What are the potential areas where costs can be reduced?

Where do we stand with regards to ITAL revenue now that it is open access?  This board was assured that the move would be revenue neutral--is that still the case?

We need to vote to create the financial task force so that it can have something intelligent to report at midwinter.  This was something we said we'd do in July.