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Keith Fiels's picture

Comments and Questions about Treasurer's Report


Courtney has passed your comments and questions on to me, and I’ll answer those I can.  I am also going to post your comments and questions to the Planning and Budget Assembly Connect group.

I’m passing your more specific questions about ALA publishing plans on to Don Chatham, Head of ALA publishing, who will share our plans and thinking. I’m also sharing a copy of our newly updated long range publications plan, which I’ve posted on the PBA Connect page.

As an overall observation, publishing revenue has actually increased by $1.5 million with the addition of the Neal Schuman imprint. What has been an issue is that revenues were lower than originally projected for 2013 and 2014. This is partly due to the uncertainties associated with the merger, and partly due to overall weakness in professional publishing last year. The 2015 budget is based on the actual projected sales for this current year, and publishing is confident that we will be able to hit that target.

Overall, publishing is undergoing significant changes, but the recent BEA conference reported a stabilization in the electronic/print mix and growth overall. At ALA, we see opportunities as well as challenges. Booklist, for example, has been able to grow revenue by offering an expanding mix of webinars and tailored products as print subscriptions have decreased as an overall percentage of revenue. This is the “content rather than box” approach, in that the network of reviewers and reviews database are being used in new and more creative ways than just as a monthly print publication.

Now, to your other comments and questions. I’ll list them and then respond?

It is confusing that the budget categories on slides 69 and 70 were not the same.  It makes it hard to compare 2013 and 2014.

 You’re right, we’ll want to show that differently in the future. Plus, the FY13 figure was actual, and the FY14 figure the original budget. Given the number of revenue streams and factors affecting revenue, budget and actual are always going to be somewhat different.

On Slides 73 & 81, it seems impossible that the General Fund revenues and expenses are EXACTLY the same – am I missing something here?

No, it’s right, it  reflects the fact that we are reducing expenses to match anticipated revenues – maintaining a “balanced” budget.

It looks like there is a 2 million dollar deficit from the 2015 projected revenues and expenditures ($50,929,853 in, 52,985,615 out). I realize that this is essentially a flat budget (yay), but I am curious about the long-term picture—is deficit spending going to be the plan for the next several years? What does that mean for the cash balance in 2019, 2020?

This is because 2015 is a “spend down” year for PLA and AASL. This means they are expending funds towards their conferences in anticipation of revenue in 2016. This two year cycle is a major factor in the overall ALA budget. While it does impact cash in FY15, the revenue in FY16 will more than equal the expenditures. This regular fluctuation is one reason why we maintain a strong cash position.


Keith Michael Fiels

Executive Director

American Library Association

Rachel Rubin's picture

Thank you!