ALCTS and Money—and All of Us
ALCTS provides high-quality continuing education, publications, forums for discussion of practice and research, opportunities to participate in the development of standards, and more. Through these activities, the association serves its membership and advances librarianship. What does it take for ALCTS to accomplish all this?
ALCTS’ varied activities require vision, planning, many dedicated member volunteers, outstanding staff, and the infrastructure supplied by ALA. And, of course, these activities take money. ALCTS’ budget these days is around $550,000.
Where Does ALCTS Get Its Money?
ALCTS benefits from affiliation with ALA: ALCTS doesn’t have to employ its own accounting staff or systems personnel; it doesn’t have to file separate tax returns or deal with building maintenance. (For these services, ALCTS pays overhead to ALA.) But ALCTS does not receive any direct funding from ALA. ALCTS must generate enough revenue to cover its own expenses.
So where does ALCTS currently get the money to operate and enrich its members’ professional lives?
Membership dues provide about 43 percent of ALCTS’ revenue. Until about three years ago, dues revenue could cover the costs of maintaining the ALCTS staff and headquarters in Chicago. But running the ALCTS office with its staff of three has become more expensive. The cost of staff benefits (though not ALCTS salaries!) have been steadily rising. ALCTS has also had to shoulder some new expenses.
As a result, dues alone can no longer support the ALCTS office. ALCTS needs other sources of revenue to maintain basic operations.
Registration fees for continuing education events currently account for 34 percent of ALCTS’ funds. Thanks to our Continuing Education Committee and everyone who contributes to symposia and webinars, revenue from this source has increased during the last few years, a great success. Another 16 percent of ALCTS’ funding comes from publications and advertising. Donations and sponsorships provide the remaining 7 percent of ALCTS’ revenue.
Where Does ALCTS’ Money Go?
Not surprisingly, the biggest chunk of the budget goes to support the ALCTS office and maintain daily operations. That’s not likely to change. We need our headquarters, as well as our volunteer members!
Expenses related to meetings, conferences, and other CE events comprise the second largest area of outlay. We can run up quite a tab, getting audiovisual equipment in a few conference meeting rooms and a little catering at a symposium, among other costs.
The third significant area of expense is publications. This category includes the Association’s peer-reviewed journal, Library Resources & Technical Services. LRTS is now published in both electronic and print forms, but going all-electronic wouldn’t eliminate all costs of professional-level production. Even excluding printing and mailing costs, for example, production of LRTS requires $40,000 annually. And dues do not pay for LRTS.
What’s in ALCTS’ Revenue Future?
ALCTS has experienced a continuing, gradual reduction of membership, and hence of dues. Our losses are less than many associations’, and we can work to stop the decline. But given current library demographics, we cannot reasonably expect much increase in membership. We’re doing well, but we need to prepare for the future. We need multiple, predictable revenue streams.
The project of our Emerging Leader this year is to develop a fiscally sustainable model for LRTS. This project should help us support one of our most valuable, long-standing, and expensive contributions to librarianship.
The Fundraising Committee is currently very active, and is creating the basis for continuing success. Despite consolidation of vendors, we hope to maintain and, hopefully, increase this small revenue stream.
Most of all, we need CE and publishing to be self-financing, and even to make money, to help subsidize our many worthy activities. The CE and Publications Committees are working hard to achieve this goal. But all of us have a role. All of us can contribute to a healthy financial future for our association.
Revenue Is Everyone’s Responsibility
First of all, we can recognize that making money to enable ALCTS to contribute to the profession is not a bad thing. Thinking about money doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about the mission of the association. It means we’re serious about pursuing the mission.
Second, we can all contribute to successful CE and publishing endeavors. If you are an IG chair, and your group presents an outstanding panel, consider developing this panel into a webinar. If you’re on a committee organizing a program, consider putting outstanding presenters in contact with the Publications Committee, to develop presentations for publication. If you’re on a section executive committee, make sure your section is feeding ideas and names into the CE and publication processes. Consider the possibilities for finding a wider audience for many excellent contributions that now are available only to a few at conferences.
Creating a healthy financial future for ALCTS is the responsibility of all of us.
Send Your Thoughts
Again, thank you all for your dedication to library service and to our association. I look forward to hearing from you, about revenue and other topics. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.