From the Office
Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director
As you may already know or at least suspect, ALCTS is a complex and diverse organization. The main governing body of ALCTS is its Board of Directors, seventeen hard-working, dedicated representatives of the members. At the division level, ALCTS is also a matrix of committees, sub-committees, task forces, discussion groups, and soon-to-be interest groups. The members who populate these groups also fit the category of hard working and dedicated. Take all this and repeat five more times for each of the sections, Acquisitions, CCS, CMDS, PARS, and Serials, and then add in CRG for good measure. Excepting ACRL, ALCTS might have the most complex and diverse divisional structure within ALA. As a result, ALCTS also might have the largest number of those hard working and dedicated people I mentioned above. Some 400 or more at last count.
So where am I going with this, you might ask? Excellent question. My purpose is to illustrate that ALCTS provides a vast menu of services on a regular basis, all linked from group to group through the strategic and tactical plans and through its structure. Service can be defined as simply as the basic membership. ALCTS also provides the opportunity to serve on one or more of the vast number of groups I mentioned at the outset. Service can be producing a program or pre-conference, a workshop or institute, a web course. It is also preparing a publication. It is information sharing through discussion group leadership or maybe the newly enabled interest group. It is service to the entire library community.
Supporting this vast array of opportunities, activities, and initiatives becomes a challenge. It is a personnel challenge, a resource challenge, and more often than not a funding challenge.
It becomes a personnel challenge just in the sheer magnitude of finding people to populate each of the committee, task forceÃ¯Â¿Â½ positions available. Imagine if you had to go out and hire a completely new library staff every year. Fortunately, the appointing officers really have to replace only about one third of those people in any given year. However, it's still a lot of people.
The one greatest resource challenge is "time". ALCTS work, as with all work these days, doesn't seem to diminish, doesn't seem to become any easier, doesn't seem to slow down. ALCTS work is a reflection of the general atmosphere of work these days. More and faster. Expectations are high. Speed is essential. Competing elements for your time. We, in the office, are grateful and appreciate the time you dedicate to ALCTS.
Which leaves me with the last challenge, funding. ALCTS is not the biggest ALA division in terms of members. ALCTS is however, in my mind, a "big" division in terms of what we do and whom we serve. To be a "big" in service means we also must produce the needed revenue to support that "bigness". ALCTS is in select company when it comes to supporting our membership and their ambitions. We are the only division that helps members attend IFLA. We are one of few who support new initiatives. We recognize our best more than most. We led the way with the first ALA Web course. Just to name a few. ALCTS members expect "big" things from their association. However, "big" things must be backed by sometimes "big" dollars. Dues revenue alone will not support ALCTS. In fact dues revenue is only about 40% of the revenue ALCTS will produce this year and again next year. We depend on what I fondly call "net revenue" or "profit" to make the opportunities and ambitions a reality. ALCTS, as an association, is a business. Making money is not our primary strategic endeavor, but being and staying financially sound is crucial to ALCTS success. I once heard an association manager say, "no money, no mission".
Unlike most of your libraries, ALCTS must generate its own revenue. You, the members, by dedicating yourselves to service in ALCTS, produce the products and services, the continuing education and the preconferences, the publications and the Web courses that ALCTS needs to produce the "profit" the association needs to support the myriad of worthwhile things ALCTS does.