It’s hard to believe that this will be my final CLA Insider column as your CLA President. Like so many things in life, being CLA President has simultaneously felt like it lasted for years and like it was over in a flash!
Looking back, I’m proud of what CLA has been able to accomplish for its members in the past year. Both CLA paid staff and your volunteer Board members have accomplished impressive amounts of work with severely limited time and resources, and I hope you will join me in thanking them when you see them.
A few of my highlights of the year included:
- Bringing a new level of energy and creativity to our 2013 Conference with a large, diverse conference committee focused on interactivity, not only in the sessions themselves but through crowdsourced program selection. I am really looking forward to seeing a number of enhancements to the exhibit hall, attending the first ever CLA prom, and of course seeing our outstanding keynote speaker Henry Rollins. Registration levels for the conference are already well above 2012 – it could be a record-setting year!
- An intense legislative year, during which significant progress was made on two fronts: local library funding, and a State-supported broadband infrastructure for public libraries. Senator Lois Wolk’s SCA 7 constitutional amendment, which would lower the vote threshold to 55% for library ballot measures, is still alive and well in the Senate Rules Committee as we head into 2014. We came very close to securing support for the CENIC broadband backbone for public libraries in the 2013-14 budget, with strong bipartisan support in all of the relevant budget committees, but ultimately more data was needed to justify the State’s investment, and the State Library has now gathered that data so that we can push forward again for the 2014-15 budget cycle. With both SCA 7 and the broadband initiative, large numbers of CLA members responded when calls for letters went out. If we can maintain that same level of engagement and same responsiveness in the year ahead, we can accomplish great things in Sacramento.
- Increased member engagement in CLA committees. This year, I appointed over 150 people to serve on CLA Committees ranging from Membership Development to Awards committees to Conference to Leadership Development. Several of our committees have produced excellent results, and I am especially pleased to see the Intellectual Freedom Committee taking a more active stance after a few quiet years.
- Increased attention to intellectual freedom issues. The CLA Board recently adopted a Resolution on the Need for Reforms for the Intelligence Community to Support Privacy, Open Government, Government Transparency, and Accountability. I’m proud that CLA took a stand on its members behalf about the recent revelations of NSA data collection about Americans, both individuals and organizations. CLA also supported Senate Resolution 16 by Senator Ted Lieu (D) and Senator Joel Anderson (R) on the same topic.
- Progress on the path to financial stability. For fiscal year 2013-14, CLA has adopted a realistic balanced budget that maintains the core services our members expect. The Finance Committee has been revived and has revised the organization’s Financial Handbook to provide additional oversight and guidance for both the Board and staff in maintaining financial stability. There’s still plenty of work to be done, and each of you can make a huge impact by sharing the value of CLA with one other colleague and encouraging him or her to join the organization.
- Enhanced focus on the key roles of the organization and performance measurement. In August, the CLA Board held its second all-day meeting of the year to work with nonprofit management consultant Shelly Alcorn to develop a plan to keep CLA strong, meaningful in the lives of its members, and focused on the most important needs of our membership. In October, we will have one additional daylong meeting to take the results of our work with Shelly and convert them into an action plan.
- So much more! CLA had a wildly successful series of Spring Fling Programs. Participation in the iRead Summer Reading Program not only created a fabulous set of themes for summer reading, but also raised tens of thousands of dollars for CLA. Along with summer reading, this summer’s CLA-sponsored food drive collected over 20 tons of food for needy Californians. In the press release for the food drive, I said, “When libraries make a commitment to do something positive for their communities, they always follow through.” I think I can safely say the same about CLA – the organization is committed to creating a ton of positive value for its members, and I think we’re doing just that.
Member engagement is really the biggest key to our success. Currently, CLA is holding an election for new officers and Board members, as well as a few key issues regarding bylaws and dues. In order to maintain our positive momentum, I encourage you to select the best candidates (from an absolutely amazing slate – it will not be an easy decision!) to guide the organization in a positive direction. I also encourage you to vote yes on all three of the issues your Board has recommended on the ballot. Your participation will truly make a positive difference.
It has been an absolute honor to serve as your President, and I thank everyone who has contributed to this very successful year. I hope to see each and every one of you at the conference in Long Beach so I can thank you in person.