Grants and Fundraising

1876 Club – An Interview with Courtney Young and Andrew Medlar

Often it can be uncomfortable to think about or talk about the end of one’s life. None of us really wants to consider our own death, let alone how we want our assets handled after we are gone. However, such conversations are not only important but necessary. We may think that only celebrities or wealthy people need to worry about estate planning, but if you own a home, have a savings account, a life insurance policy, or even a few stocks, no matter how small, you should have an estate plan.

While each person has their own considerations for such planning, I’d like to share an idea, a new program created by ALA. Named for the year of ALA’s founding, the 1876 Club is a planned giving program for ALA members under 50 years old. Planned giving, often called legacy giving, is a way to leave a specific amount of money or a percentage of one’s estate to a non-profit organization. I spoke to Courtney Young, University Librarian at Colgate University and Andrew Medlar, Director of BookOps, who were instrumental in founding 1876 Club, to learn more about this.

How did the idea for the 1876 Club come about?

Courtney: Staff in the ALA Development office worked with member leaders from ALA’s Executive Board to create a planned giving program for members under the age of 50. By designating ALA or any of the divisions, offices, round tables, scholarship funds, or other programs, we are taking care of the parts of ALA that mean the most to each of us.

How did you become involved?

Andrew: As I was completing my service on the ALSC Executive Committee in 2017, I really wanted to find a way to commemorate what was for me an incredible five years and to give back to ALA for all of the impactful experiences I had during that time. (Not to mention before and after that time!) I really appreciate the Development team and our phenomenal member-leaders, such as Courtney, who conceived and created this great opportunity which was perfect timing for me and an ideal, long-term, way to contribute to our profession.

Courtney: I think I was still ALA President-Elect when I had a conversation with a previous Development Office staff member about developing a planned giving category for my generation of members. Towards the end of my term as ALA President, and then as Immediate Past President, I worked with a new head of Development and my colleagues on the plan, including coming up with the name a tree logo. I’m proud to say I’ve been part of this idea from its inception. –Courtney

Why should librarians under 50-years-old consider the 1876 Club?

Courtney: It allows us to demonstrate the importance of advocacy for libraries, librarians, and the public. We, too, want to ensure libraries of all types remain an integral part of our communities.

What are the benefits of membership?

Andrew: I appreciate the camaraderie with the other dedicated members; the satisfaction of knowing you’ll be helping our colleagues, association, and profession into the next generations; and, of course, who doesn’t love having another fantastic badge ribbon to wear at conferences!

Courtney: I, too, am proud to be a part of a cohort, a generation of library and information professionals who, too, can stand together in support of the work we do. We’re able to distinguish ourselves as members who also value the association although we may still be early-to-mid career.

Are these funds earmarked for specific initiatives? Can a member designate their gifts for specific programs?

Courtney: Yes, members can designate where their gifts go within the Association. You can designate one area, two areas, or multiple areas.

Once a member joins 1876, can they change their mind?

Andrew and Courtney: Sure, you can absolutely contribute more!

Is there anything else members need to know to help make this decision?

Andrew: I think about it as commemorating the past, celebrating the present, and supporting the future!

Courtney: It’s a great time to get started and invest in the present and future of the association. I thought it would be complicated and that I would not be able to give until later in my life, but it is very easy to do, and the commitment is the most important thing.

For more information about 1876 Club or to participate, visit

Today’s guest post was written by Maegen Rose, a current member of the ALSC Budget Committee.

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