The main items of concern to the WESS membership were (1) ACRL Executive Director Althea Jenkin's characterization of the WESS Pre- Conference in San Francisco as successful, well planned, and carried out; and (2) the new pricing structure for ACRL sections based on the size of membership. Small (under 1000 members; WESS currently has 753 and ranks 11th out of the 17 ACRL sections in membership) sections will receive $500 in Basic Services fees (WESS currently receives $450); medium-sized sections (1001-2499 members) will receive $1000; and large sections (2500+) will receive $1500. If membership falls below these levels, the section will lose funding, though this first year will be a grace period, and no section will be penalized. In renewing ACRL membership, people will now pick two rather than three free sections with no restrictions on type of section-type of activity or type of library. ACRL membership shall be $35 with $5 extra for each additional section beyond the 2 free sections allowed. Since members formerly had 3 free choices and must now pay for a third, this will undoubtedly decrease the membership of sections.
The Board wishes to allow greater autonomy to the sections in spending this money and is removing many of the previous restrictions. The funds can now be spent on food or decorations for programs or receptions and for travel or honoraria for non-librarian speakers. The funds may NOT be used for "equipment and software purchases, speaker expenses and honoraria for librarian speakers in accordance with ALA fiscal policy. In addition audiovisual production projects including film and development require advance approval from ACRL." (Board Document 9.1, paragraph 2). The reason for the prohibition on the purchase of hardware or software is that such purchases might conflict with licensing agreements between ALA and vendors.
ACRL is actively encouraging the use of electronic resources by section newsletters, though it is not, at this point, encouraging dropping the paper format. RBMS is now offering its directory only online. ACRL made $183,000 over the anticipated income this year, but is budgeting for a $371,877 deficit next year by investing $200,000 in the endowment and because of advance expenses for the national ACRL conference, which should be regained. Since there is a reserve balance of $800,000, the division will not run in the red, but if such trends continue over a period of years, it will need new means of raising funds.
Submitted by John Cullars, WESS Liaison to ACRL Board