Report on ALA Midwinter Council 2010
Boston, Massachusetts, January 14-19, 2010
This Midwinter meeting marked the first ALA meeting under the newly compressed schedule. The length of the conference was shortened by one day, which made attending all the required and important meetings a bit of a challenge. It was also the first time that ALA met in the new convention center in Boston. Future Midwinter Meetings will be held at San Diego (2011), Dallas (2012), Seattle (2013) and Philadelphia (2014). Future Annual Conferences will be at Washington, D.C. (2010), New Orleans (2011), Anaheim (2012), Washington, D.C. again (2013) and Las Vegas (2014).
Council Information Session: Before convening Council I, an information meeting was held. BARC (Budget Analysis and Review Committee) Chair James G. Neal reported on ALA’s financials for FY2009. In 2009, ALA anticipated a revenue shortfall and therefore implemented a furlough for all employees. However, as the FY2009 revenues exceeded expectations, ALA restored the lost wages to employees at the end of the fiscal year. ALA ended the year with a surplus. For FY2010, which began on September 1, 2009, ALA will be facing budgetary challenges similar to those anticipated in FY2009. As a result, a similar approach to that used in FY2009 will be used for the FY2010 budget. Dan Bradbury, ALA Endowment Fund Senior Trustee, presented the ALA Endowment Fund Report. In 2009, the value of the Endowment Fund rose to $28,680,000, still below the high of $31,220,000 in 2007, but a significant rebound from its low of $21,000,000 in 2008. ALA President Camila Alire and President-Elect Roberta Stevens presented their reports. President- Elect Stevens outlined her initiatives for her upcoming presidential year, which will include a program at the 2011 ALA Annual meeting titled “Our Authors, Our Libraries” and a contest for youth to produce YouTube videos on “why I need my library”. A drive to significantly increase the Spectrum Presidential Initiative: National Initiative for Inclusivity in America’s Libraries was kicked off by Betty Turock, former ALA President. To get the drive off to a quick start, her family donated $100,000.
Council I: Council unanimously approved a “Resolution Declaring and Promoting 2010 as the Year of Cataloging Research” introduced by Diane Dates Casey and Janet Swan Hill for ALCTS. At the conclusion of Council I, Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels reported on meeting attendance and the overall membership and trends in membership of ALA (see below).
ALA-APA Council: ALA/APA continues to struggle financially and currently employs only one staff member. In order for ALA/APA to meet its financial obligations, ALA increased its loan to the APA by $25,000. There is some hope that income from course offerings will begin to provide a steady income stream for ALA/APA.
Council II: Kent Oliver reported on the Freedom to Read Foundation, http://www.ftrf.org, He introduced the new Executive Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, Barbara Jones. All Councilors were encouraged to become members of the Foundation. Rod Hersberger, ALA Treasurer, gave the Treasurer’s report, presented the 2010 ALA budget, and spoke about the financial status of ALA at the end of FY2009. He also discussed the proposed FY2011 budget in which ALA expects to experience continued diminishing revenues and rising costs. He raised a concern over the rapidly increasing costs of ALA’s obligations to its retired employees. These costs are projected to have an increasingly large impact on future ALA budgets. Programmatic Priorities for 2010 to 2015 were approved unanimously by Council and will be used as a guide for preparing ALA’s FY2011 budget. Since a resolution in support of health care had passed in 2009, another resolution seemed unnecessary, so a “Resolution in Support of National Health Care” was defeated.
Council III: Council elected Kevin Reynolds, Chapter Councilor from Tennessee and J. Linda Williams, Coordinator of media services at Anne Arundel County Schools, to the ALA Executive Board for three year terms beginning at the ALA Annual Conference in 2010. Martin Garnar, Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee, gave the IFC report. A “Resolution in Honor of the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund’s Fortieth Anniversary” was approved by Council. The Fund had been “…founded in 1970 to help librarians who have been denied employment rights because of their defense of intellectual freedom or because of discrimination.” Mario Ascencio, Chair of the ALA Committee on Legislation presented the report of COL and several action items. A “Resolution to Support Digital Information Initiatives at the U.S. Government Printing Office” was passed. A “Resolution on Transparency and Openness in the Federal Government” and a “Resolution on Universal Access to Broadband” were both passed unanimously. Beverly Lynch, Chair of the International Relations Committee presented a “Resolution on Rebuilding Libraries and Archives Damaged or Destroyed by the Earthquake in Haiti.” This worthy resolution passed unanimously. It had been announced earlier that roughly $27,000 had been collected for Haiti relief during the few days of the Midwinter Meeting.
Earlier in the conference, Camila Alire, ALA President, had appointed a task force to study the Google Book settlement. Jim Rettig, chair of the task force, presented a brief report to Council on the anticipated work of the Task Force. There will be several programs at ALA Annual focusing on the Google settlement and its implications for libraries. A “Resolution in Support of 2010 Spectrum Presidential Initiative” was passed unanimously. With this resolution, ALA Council showed its commitment to the fund and expanding diversity in the library profession.
At the conclusion of the meetings, Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels announced that the total registration for the conference was 11,095. This compared reasonably well with attendance in recent years – in 2009 registration for Midwinter in Denver was 10,220, 13,601 at Philadelphia in 2008, 12,230 at Seattle in 2007 and 11,084 at San Antonio in 2006. Keith also reported on ALA membership, which was down 2.7% from 2009 levels and reported that an audio version of the Council deliberations will be available on the ALA Web Site. As there had been much discussion on Council List about the ALA Event Planner and its shortcomings, he reported that changes suggested will be incorporated into the Event Planner for ALA Annual and that it should be much improved. Council III completed its business several hours earlier than usual.