WLA President's Holiday Message

Posted by Brigitte Rupp Vacha on Thursday, December 31, 2015 in Events and Promotions

During this holiday season I want to reach out and send my best wishes to all of you and your families. This is a great time of year to visit with family and friends. I hope that everyone experiences some of the joy that comes from being with those you cherish the most.

This is also the time of year when we look at things we did and what we accomplished. Since the season also marks the culmination of my year as WLA president, I would like comment on the many things that WLA accomplished this year.

Continued gains from 2014:

This year the volunteer orientation redesigned to help unit leaders be better equipped to succeed. We also moved the date of the orientation to make it more convenient. The WLA Board liaison program has increased communication between the board and units. Also in 2014 the Board instituted a Conference co-chair plan to provide the annual conference chair some experience. The success of this year’s conference was a testament to the co-chair program.

We continued to work on increasing the visibility of WLA and Wisconsin libraries this year. Plumer increased his number of visits to local libraries. I was able to join him with a visit to the River Falls Public Library and join in on their celebration of being named 2015 WLA Library of the Year. Both Pamela Westby and I attended the WAPL and WAAL conferences. For me, it was certainly enlightening to attend the WAPL conference. One of my most enjoyable visits was to UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies’ new student orientation. Plumer and I have also begun arrangements to attend the UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies orientation next year.

We hired a part-time marketing consultant to help get our word out. I knew that our publicity was working when one morning I heard on the radio an interview with Nickolas Baker that reported on WLA recognizing him with our 2015 Literary Award when that went public.

Grow membership:

In 2015, the board created a Membership Committee. This committee will build on the work of last year’s membership task force. While membership numbers have leveled off we need to grow in order to maintain a healthy organization. Membership dues and our conference are our largest revenue stream. We weren’t able to put as much emphasis on growing membership this year as I would have liked. I am sure that we will be able to focus more on this issue during the coming years.

The 2015 WLA conference was a spectacular success. Registration numbers were very high. I was thrilled to see how many hands went up when Plumer asked how many people were first time attendees. The speakers and events were engaging and fun. I want to publicly thank the conference planning committee for the work they did. Ben Miller put together a great team.

Special Projects:

At the end of last year the WLA Board decided that we needed to increase our financial commitment to lobbying. We all agreed on the vital importance of our lobbying efforts but we did not have base budget funds to support a threefold increase in funding. So we committed reserve funds to a one year increase of funding for our professional lobbyists and an exploration of the return on investment. During the year, we created a Lobbyist Evaluation Task Force that designed an evaluation rubric that we will use as an annual guide to ensure we were getting a strong return on this investment in legislative lobbying. They were not charged with finding base budget funds to support continuation of this level of service. So this fall we were faced with a dilemma on how to fund continued service at this level. The task force did uncover some possible solutions as they looked at our neighboring states. Members of the LD&L Committee immediately went to work creating a plan to bring a new revenue stream to our budget, which would be directed at legislative lobbying. We now have a committee working on this project to make it operational.

This year we created two new task forces.  The Leadership Development Institute Task Force has created a detailed plan and curriculum for a WLA Leadership Institute. The next step will be to contact presenters, find a venue and gather the first cohort. The 125th Anniversary Task Force has been working and planning events this year. Our main event will take place at our 2016 conference at the Potawatomi Casino & Hotel, Milwaukee, October 25-28. Keep those dates open. It’s going to be a great party!

I am also happy to report that this year we moved forward on a new, more workable collaboration agreement between WLA and WEMTA. The WEMTA board has voted to adopt an edited version of the agreement we proposed so now the WLA board will review the agreement and vote on adoption. This has been a yearlong project and we are very close to a final agreement that will be something that will support enhanced communication between the two groups and will allow us to coordinate legislative agendas.

I will close by again wishing you all a wonderful holiday. Thank you for all you do for the citizens of Wisconsin. It was my great joy to serve as the WLA president this year. I am proud of all we did. I’m sure there are more great things to come next year under the leadership of my wonderful colleague Pamela Westby.


John Pollitz

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