I’ve been a member of the Association of Library Service to Children for over fifteen years. Well, I think; since they stopped sending out membership cards, I can’t keep track. However long it’s been – it was at least a decade before the question of money ever occurred to me: Is ALSC solvent? Does it have money? Who pays for all the ribbon tags people wear at conference? On the great range between Donald and Scrooge, where does this organization actually fall?
I asked these questions for the first time a few years ago because I had just joined the Budget Committee, and suddenly the idea of finances was front-and-center in my committee work. It was a two year appointment, and after bouncing around ALSC for a few years, I’m back once again. Yes, it really is that much fun! No, that’s not sarcasm. I’m here again, aren’t I?
The reason I enjoy serving on Budget is because it’s a librarian’s dream – you get a chance to not only peek under the hood, you get to rummage around a bit too. In a profession that defines itself through the promotion of knowledge, understanding how things run is AMAZING! It’s the cherry on top of the dessert. (In fairness though, all Budget committee meetings at conference are open to the public, so you’re always welcome to stop by and see a bit of the magic yourself.)
But I’m not here to write about conference – I’m here to write about ducks. Specifically Donald and Scrooge and where ALSC falls on that range. Like the best reference questions, the answer is a lot more complicated than the question implies. In short, the answer is both. Let’s dive into the longer answer, though.
ALSC is incredibly lucky because it has a revenue stream. If you come to a Budget meeting in the future, you’re bound to hear about seals.
Nope! Not that kind. Although that’s one awesome seal. I mean these seals:
Every time a book wins an award, the publishers pay ALSC to add a seal like this to their publications. That money supports ALSC programming. Scrooge McDuck it is! Except… ALSC has a lot of programs and does a lot to promote literacy around the country. As quickly as that money comes in, it’s allocated for programming that ranges from the Children & Libraries journal to the Newbery 100. It’s also used to support the amazing ALSC staff who make sure that conferences, online education, and ALSC Institute run smoothly. Goodbye McDuck. It was fun while it lasted.
Thankfully, we’re not Donald. Our ALSC staff works hard to make sure that our spending doesn’t overtake funding. It’s a balance act that keeps us solvent, but also allows us to do the most we can to promote literacy and help children’s librarians stay at the top of their game.
Sometimes though, ALSC needs emergency funding. That’s where Friends of ALSC comes in. Friends of ALSC is a way for members and for people who care about promoting literacy to give ALSC a little more. Friends of ALSC has two main areas of giving, Professional Development and Early Literacy Projects.
The fund is used to help ALSC members develop into better library workers through grants, scholarships, web-based learning and training through new technologies. ALSC members can apply for scholarship opportunities for ALSC Institute. A few years ago, money was donated to REFORMA’s Children in Crisis fund. It’s a general pot of money that ALSC committees can tap when they have a great idea that needs a little start-up, such as promoting Summer Learning. Money has also been allocated from Friends of ALSC to support active ALSC Members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members can apply through November 13th; click this link for more information!
The best part about Friends of ALSC is that the money is tied directly to the division and not big-ALA. When you donate, you can be confident that all the funds are going to support literacy-themed programming or to help other librarians expand their skill-set. It’s a win-win situation.
Christopher Brown is the Curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Chris is a former Children’s Librarian, who served many communities in Philadelphia and is a current member of the ALSC Budget committee. He received his MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and his MA from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2013. For more information about the Children’s Literature Research Collection, please visit us at freelibrary.org/clrc
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: VI. Administrative and Management Skills.