Meet Clara N. Bohrer, Fiscal Officer
I never expected to work in a public library: I started on a different career path, took an unexpected turn, and found a profession that has been incredibly meaningful and fulfilling.
I’ve worked as a frontline librarian and manager in several public libraries in Michigan. Since 1991, I’ve served as director of the West Bloomfield Township (MI) Public Library, working with an incredibly talented and creative team. The library was awarded the IMLS National Medal for our work around community engagement, workforce development and early literacy services.
I am a youth advocate at heart. Being active in PLA has given me many opportunities to follow this passion. I was involved with Every Child Ready to Read® from its inception, and more recently with PLA’s Family Engagement initiative. I also had the honor of serving as PLA president in 2004–2005.
I enjoy traveling, going to the theater, reading, attending sporting events (Go Blue!), and volunteering in youth organizations in the community where I live.
Why I wanted to serve on the PLA Board
The fiscal officer is a new position just approved by PLA members in the 2019 election. The position works closely with the PLA Board of Directors and staff to ensure PLA’s long-term fiscal sustainability. The fiscal officer also chairs the Budget and Finance Committee. When Pam Sandlian Smith asked me to serve, I immediately agreed. For the past eight years, I have chaired the Budget and Finance Committee, which makes me extremely familiar with PLA finances. I also led fundraising efforts to obtain founding donors for PLA’s Fund for the Future, which was established in 2018. My first priority as fiscal officer is to help ensure that PLA has the financial resources to fully realize our core purpose to strengthen public libraries and their contribution to communities.
Part of my role as fiscal officer is to be a liaison between PLA and ALA on financial matters. Since PLA is a division of ALA, our organization pays overhead to support both ALA services—such as information technology—and ALA mission-related activities—such as Public Policy and Advocacy. I am extremely familiar with ALA finances having served a four-year term (two years as chair) on the its Budget Analysis and Review Committee, a two-year term on its Finance and Audit Committee, and more than eight years on its Planning and Budget Assembly.
I developed the instructional webinar on the operating agreement between ALA and its divisions, which is part of the ALA’s Financial Learning Series. I understand and appreciate the complex financial relationship between ALA and its divisions. As ALA moves forward with organizational change, which includes potential changes in the financial relationship, another priority as Fiscal Officer will be to ensure that PLA has a voice in the process and deliberations.
It is an honor to serve as the first PLA Fiscal Officer. I look forward to helping maximize our financial resources to ensure that PLA remains a vital resource for our members.
Photo: Clara Bohrer and her husband, John, prepare to cheer on the University of Michigan football team at an NCAA Bowl Game in Atlanta.