Pam Spencer Holley, YALSA Fiscal Officer

Now that I have a year of experience with YALSA finances, it’s become obvious to me that there is sometimes confusion in the minds of members about our dues, requests for donations, and books and other products that we sell. Why does YALSA need to do all this?

When I first became active in YALSA in the fall of 1985, we were considered a small division because we had about 2000 members (today we have over 5,100) and we were only able to cover about 50% of our operating expenses. Because of YALSA’s inability to cover all of the costs of providing member services and support, ALA gave YALSA what is called the “small division subsidy,” which covered the rest of our expenses. While ALA generously provided the financial support to meet the basic needs of members, YALSA wasn’t able to offer new selection or award committee opportunities or take on large national projects as we just did with the IMLS grant and the report that was generated. Not only that, the division had only a deputy director and 2.3 other staff positions (today we have an executive director and 4.5 other positions).

All this changed in the early 2000s when YALSA worked out a plan with ALA to gradually increase revenues and move off of the small division subsidy.’  Today, revenue from dues makes up about a third of YALSA’s total revenue.’  However, additional funds are needed by our division to continue with our dozen award and selection committees, the webinars and tool kits that enable library workers to be well prepared to serve their teens, the various events at conference where we all have a chance to rub elbows with noted YA authors and experts in the field, and more. Our strategic committees form the heartbeat of our organization and funds are needed to ensure their work is made available to aid library workers and teens. Our member awards and scholarships require a minimum of $16,000every year, hence we have the Friends of YALSA society whose donations help ensure that we are able to recognize members for their achievements and support them in their professional growth.

The other two thirds of YALSA’s revenue comes from key sources, like the sale of books and e-learning, the YA Literature Symposium, ticketed events at ALA conferences, grants, individual donations, corporate sponsorships and interest from YALSA’s endowments.’  All of the revenues that come into YALSA, from whatever source, are used to provide members with services and support.

Although finding room in your budget to pay for things like association dues can sometimes be a challenge, YALSA really does give you a lot of bang for your buck.’  The highest dues category for membership in ALA/YALSA is $193 per year (the lowest is $59).’  Some of the key benefits of membership add up to well over $193.’  For example, all of these things come free with membership:

  • $35 subscription to YALSA E-News
  • $70 subscription to Young Adult Library Services
  • $760 worth of webinars on-demand
  • $588 in live monthly webinars

And those are just a few of the freebies and discounts members get from ALA and YALSA.’  So, with an investment of $59 – $193, members get a minimum of $1,453 worth of resources – resources that help make your daily work easier and position you to advance your career.’  Are you making the most of these perks that YALSA has to offer?’  If not, you should be!’  Check out this free 30 minute webinar about making the most of your membership:’  And don’t forget one of the best values from your YALSA membership: the opportunity to be part of a group of like-minded librarians, educators and teen supporters who care about library services to teens. Now, that opportunity is priceless.

I hope this post helps explain a bit about how YALSA finds the funds to support member services and programs, as well as where dues fit into the picture.’  Please don’t hesitate to’ get in touch with me’ ( if I can answer any questions you may have.

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