Sunday, March 12, 2006

ALA 101 - Part 6: Buildings and Finances

ALA's Headquarters (HQ after this), is officially located at 50 East Huron Street in Chicago. Actually, ALA owns not only 50 E. Huron, but also 40, and part of 30! The ALA offices stretch from the corner of Wabash and Huron, most of the way to Rush on the north side of the street. Across the street from HQ is the cathedral and offices for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The Cathedral for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is only a few blocks away.

Historically, ALA has owned 50 East Huron for a number of years. Back in the 50s or 60s, ALA purchased the parking lot at 30 East, and the building at 40 East. In the 70s ALA Executive Director Robert Wedgeworth was approached and worked out a deal to create a condominium at 30 East, and re-configure the offices. At 30 East, ALA has part of the first floor, and all of the 2nd through 7th floors. Currently the 7th floor is vacant, but there have been tenants in the past. Above that are apartments. About three years the original agreement on the development of the property expired resulting in a cash windfall for the Association. Those funds have been added to the Association's Long Term Investment Fund.

Michael Stephens posted photos from his recent visit to ALA HQ, and I'll link to that and then make comments about some of the specific photos. After wandering around FLickr for a bit, I found that Jenny Levine has five photos of that day also, start with that link, and look at the next four.

I am guessing that the photo of stuff on the window sill is in Mary Ghikas' office. You can see Michael's photo of Jenny photographic the ALA Mission Statement, and then Jenny's photo in her group of that statement. It is on a wall just inside the door to the "Governance" area on the 2nd floor. That is where Keith Michael Fiels office is.

The training room pictured is on the first floor of 50 East, right next to the Membership Services area (where the phones are answered). The room with the big table (and speaker phone in the middle) is the Carnegie Room. This is right above the Training Room, and is where the Executive Board meets when we are in Chicago (Spring and Fall...Next meeting April 7 - 9 (but some of us have meetings before that).

Michael's other photos are of the signs which hang and designate offices within the ALA building. The library shots are of the ALA Library (run by the wonderful Karen Mueller).

Other buildings

ALA recently purchased an office condominium in Washington DC to house the Washington Office (WO). The WO had previously been located (most recently) in rented space on Pennsylvania Ave. While convenient to Capitol Hill and many other federal offices, costs continued to rise, and with the shortage of Class A office space in DC, the lease costs continued to rise faster than ALA's other budgets. The opportunity caused by the refinancing of the Chicago property, meant that last year was a good time for the Association to purchase property rather than rent. That purchase was financed by tax exempt bonds issued by the District of Columbia in a complex financing package which will result in budget savings to the Association as well as the increase in value of the asset. The offices are in a building which used to be an embassy, and ALA is the majority owner of the business condominium and therefore has a great deal of control over its space.

ALA also has an office in Middletown CT. The editorial offices of Choice, the book review publication of ACRL, started in the University Library on the Wesleyan University campus. They are now in a rented office, and ALA is exploring the possibility of purchasing a building to house those offices.

As you can imagine ALA's Finances are complex. However, remember that Divisions and Round Tables each can set and charge their own dues. Most of my comments are about the finances of "big ALA." Let me also add, that BARC and the Treasurer sponsor an event at each Midwinter Meeting called ALA Finances 101. That is an opportunity to hear an in depth discussion of ALA finances.

ALA has a number of revenue streams. Dues account for about 17% of this year's budget. Publications and Conferences are both larger sources of revenue. In the case of both Publications and Conferences, ALA generally talks about the net income from those areas, meaning that all the expenses have been removed. Those expenses include items for which ALA is billed (the actual printing and distribution in the case of Publishing, and the cost of meeting rooms and convention center space in the case of Conferences) as well as the cost of staff in the offices. The fourth and final major source of income is Grants. Grants include partnerships with Major League Baseball and specific grants for programs such as those from the Public Programs Office. All of this income pays for the staff in the offices (see Part 4) . It also pays for projects like the Campaign for America's Libraries which are aimed at the general public.

The one other factor which I won't go into, but is important to know about, is that the financial relationship between "big ALA" and the Divisions, is spelled out in detail in something known as the Operating Agreement. This agreement is included in ALA's Policy Manual (which is included in the ALA Handbook of Organization. It is complex enough that I am not sure that I understand all of the nuances included.

Oversight for ALA's finances and budgeting has several levels. The Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) is one of the Council Committees which reviews proposals before any new projects are undertaken. The Executive Board has a Finance and Audit Committee (F&A, technically a subcommittee of the Board), on which I am serving this year. At Executive Board meetings both BARC and F&A report. The Treasurer who serves on both of those also reports to the Board (and Council).

The Long Term Investment Fund (also known as the endowment) is managed by an independent group of Trustees (three in number, each serving a three year term). They report to F&A, the Board, and to Council on the performance of the invested funds. Many of these funds are restricted as to use, and fund Awards and Scholarships.

The finances are complex, and this is just one view of them. I welcome either comments or questions either through this blog or emailed.

1 comment:

  1. Here's the first headquarters.