Summer is finally here and thankfully many of the libraries that were forced to close during the pandemic are starting to reopen their doors. Unfortunately, we will not be opening next year with an in-person conference. The Board and Conference Committee went back and forth trying to decide between postponing the in-person meeting, having a virtual meeting, or cancelling all together. After much discussion, a mutually agreed upon solution was reached. The conference will be postponed until Fall 2022 and held in Prescott. We will not be presenting a virtual conference however members will be given an opportunity to experience some of the programs that were submitted. A small collection of the programs were chosen to be recorded and archived on the new website. Additionally, the Professional Development Committee will be reviewing the rest of the submissions for possible inclusion in the Professional Development Monthly Series. I am so happy these options were available because there are a number of excellent programs available.
I am also happy to announce that the AzLA Board has approved a new tiered institutional fee structure. It is my pleasure to introduce this new initiative in this message. I believe the new fee structure will lead to an inclusivity never experienced by the organization before. This project was initiated by the Membership, Marketing, and Outreach (MMO) Committee last spring and I thank them for their hard work and perseverance even in the face of all the challenges of the pandemic. The committee began with a review of our entire fee structure systems looking to make the pricing more incentivised to institutions. The existing institutional fee structure only offers 2 individual memberships with the fee, so cost is not relative to value. Additionally, while the per-person cost is lower for smaller libraries, the smaller libraries are still paying a significantly higher percentage of their budget than larger libraries. Finally, the larger libraries have little incentive to participate since it is cheaper to buy individual memberships for the two memberships received with institutional membership.
The primary goal of the redesigned fee structure was to increase membership and revenue at the same time by making AzLA more accessible to all library staff members. We believed this would provide a true representation of the state’s librarianship workforce. The new tiered structure is based on the revenue of an institution. In a number of interviews with directors, the MMO Committee determined overall revenue would not include staffing costs and capital expenses, which are fixed expenditures that take up a large portion of the budget and can create an overinflated budget picture. The overall effect reduced the budgets for many libraries by 40-60% which dropped those institutions into a much lower fee structure tier. Below is an example of the fee structure and tiers approved by the Board.
The Board has also approved a new individual fee structure that will soon be available with the institutional fee structure on the new website. Together with the MMO Committee, I will be promoting the new structure around the state and contacting library directors individually in an effort to advance institutional members within the organization. I am saddened by the fact that we will not be able to meet in person for the second year in a row. However, I look forward to next year in Prescott and am hoping the institutional fee structure will increase membership and make it the most attended conference ever. Live well my friends.