Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The Canadian Library Association released its proposed future plan yesterday. In it, there's this paragraph:

In the past decade, the library landscape has changed tremendously. In this context, like many other library organizations, CLA has struggled. The Association has lost focus and has not always responded effectively to member expectations. Indeed, membership numbers have decreased to half as many as in 2000.

There's little in the plan about turning this around. Sure, there's a sentence about a membership drive. They'll be creating a "Corporate Member" category and revamping the "Institutional Member" fee structure. I don't think it's a question of the organization's focus. I think it's a question of the organization's utility.

I was a member of CLA years ago when I was student and being a member was cheap. I haven't thought about being a member in years because I haven't had any interest in going to the conference. I look at other organization's job boards. Other organizations have been better advocates for my interests.

CLA has to find out why membership has halved in the last ten years. If it's because librarians are finding the services you used to provide on the web, then all the membership drives and fee tweaking in the world aren't going to help.

I wish this were less harsh. I hope I'm wrong and you find the answers you're looking for.