Join Our Membership and Dues Simplification Conversation

Submitted by mlapresident on October 1, 2010 - 9:18am.   

Dear Members:

The current issue of Michigan Libraries focuses heavily on MLA member priorities, the cost of providing those services and MLA's proposed membership model and dues simplification plan.  I strongly encourage every member to read this issue and join in a membership blog conversation by posting a question below.

As mentioned, in May, 2009 the Board appointed a Dues Task Force to address MLA sustainability and our complicated dues structure.  The work of this Task Force culminated this summer with a proposed dues simplification plan.  From June through August, as your President, I held or attended fourteen meetings with over 300 MLA members - Directors and line staff- to share with them member priorities and information about MLA's sustainability.  A list of those summer meetings is available on the MLA website. I asked for candid feedback about our direction as a board, challenges with our current value proposition, and the proposed membership model, bylaws changes and dues simplification to advance MLA.  I have made every attempt to reach out and include candid member input because I need you to be there with us as we approach these issues. And I will continue to listen.

I am now opening a blog conversation for members to ask questions about the proposed membership model and dues simplification.  The articles in Michigan Libraries articulate the proposed service levels tied to budget, proposed membership classifications and dues ranges.  These changes would enhance the value of organizational membership which is critical in order to switch the bulk of the dues to organizations and keep individual dues accessible while continuing to provide advocacy and professional development to our members.

Please post your questions to the blog and we will answer within 48 hours, and sooner if possible. If you have a question someone else likely has a similar question so post it to the blog and we'll respond.  All input is welcome. 

Once again, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the summer meetings and served on the Dues Task Force.


Christine Berro, MLA President

Where can I read the blog

Where can I read the blog and comments? I only see the President's introduction.

Jill, I believe yours was

Jill, I believe yours was the first comment.

Concern over membership dues changes

Why is a personal benefit, free membership, given to the directors of organizations that pay for an organizational membership? Giving ALL organizational members a fee reduction equal to the amount of a director's membership would also benefit those that don't pay for their director's membership while avoiding the appearance of directors making business decisions for their own personal benefit. It also seems punitive to raise membership fees for individual members who do not work for a library with an organizational membership. Smaller libraries with small budgets that pay small salaries may not be able to afford an organizational membership, and their employees may not be able to afford the unreasonably high new unaffiliated individual membership fee. Librarians have no control over whether or not their libraries join MLA, so they should not be punished or rewarded either way.

Reply to: Concern over membership dues changes

Organizational members don’t receive a free individual membership. If a director leaves the organization, the membership stays with the organization; it does not go with the Director. It is truly the organization’s membership. For the most part, the Director will be the representative of the organization because it is the responsibility of the Director to be the voice for the organization. It is also true that the Organizational representative will be able to participate in MLA as an active member if they are the organizational representative. But they likewise will bear the responsibility of selling the organizational membership to their board or provost so that staff can benefit from the affiliated membership status.

The dues structure was consciously designed to shift the burden from individuals to organizations. We did explore an entirely individual membership model. But that would have entailed individual dues somewhere between $300 and $500 which we believed was unrealistic. It will be incumbent upon individuals to encourage their libraries to join as Organizational members if they want to join at the affiliated membership level.

This model was built to enhance the value of Organizational membership so that Directors and Boards have a greater incentive to join as Organizational members. A Library Director may join as an individual member if they so choose.

Statewide advocacy was identified by members of all types and sizes as the number one priority. The work MLA does to lobby for libraries helps every type and size of library in this state whether they are a member of MLA or not. This model encourages libraries to join as organizational members so that we can continue to financially support the advocacy work that benefits us all. The second membership priority was professional development. Under this model MLA will be able to continue providing this service at reasonable rates. Anyone can still attend our annual conference and workshops at nonmember rates.

Finally, the dues structure for Organizational members is based on budget. It is scaled equitably to accommodate all libraries, including small libraries. We held a series of meetings this summer to gain input about the model, including input from small libraries. Everyone was shown the options for service levels and the dues levels required and there was overwhelming support for model B, including small libraries.

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