Last week, the ALA Council raised the question of what steps the association was taking to deal with the impact of the current financial crisis. Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels’ response to Council briefly outlined the steps that are being taken in anticipation of what will certainly be a tough year for libraries and the association. As Treasurer and Executive Director, we wanted to take the opportunity to expand on those comments and to talk more specifically about the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. Treasurer Rod Hersberger will be reporting on the overall picture and plans for the association in a guest editorial in the November Edition of American Libraries, and both of us, along with President Jim Rettig will be updating Council and the membership on a regular basis. The Treasurer and BARC Chair Jim Neal will also be reporting to Council in some detail at Midwinter. The bottom line is that the association has taken steps to anticipate the impact of the economic downturn on libraries, librarians and the association. It is clear that as the economy slows, that revenue growth for state, county and municipal governments will be impacted, whether they are funded through property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, or endowment income. All these are going to impact library budgets, as they have during every slowdown in the past. Because ALA generates five dollars in revenue from publications, conferences, advertising and sales for every dollar in dues revenue, the association definitely feels the impact of reductions in library materials budgets, spending for technology and online services, and support for conference attendance. At this point, we have modified our attendance and revenue projections for the Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference to reflect the anticipated impact of higher air fares and tighter travel budgets. Because
We should point out that there is a lot of good news. The association remains financially strong and our membership continues to increase. Registration for the 2009 Midwinter Meeting in Denver is off to a great start. We are looking forward to successful annual conferences over the next two years in two of the association’s record-breaking sites: Chicago and Washington
We’ll keep you posted as any new developments occur.
–Rod Hersberger, ALA Treasurer, and Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director