According to Thomas J. Hennen, Jr., author of the well-known Hennen's American Public Libraries Ratings (HALPR) index, libraries have an enduring business plan. "What we [libraries] have is a bargain with history, as well as a brilliantly simple historical bargain," Hennen wrote in American Libraries in March 2003. "Librarians promise to share knowledge and seek wisdom. We keep that promise by delivering print, non-print, and electronic materials at bargain prices. In return society has rewarded us for 100 years."
While this is an elegant business plan, we in the information profession know that our traditional public funding sources—state and local governments—are experiencing hard financial times. For more than a decade, some local library systems have experimented successfully with foundations to explore other untapped funding sources. VLA's leadership believes it is time for our organization to do the same.
Spearheaded by former VLA Treasurer Andrew Morton, the Virginia Library Association Foundation, Inc. is well on the way to becoming a reality. The VLA Executive Committee's hope is that it will be in place by 2005, when our organization celebrates its 100th anniversary.
VLAF will be a 501(c)3 charitable public foundation separate from the Virginia Library Association, Inc. Twelve VLA leaders have agreed to serve on the Founding Board of Trustees. They include Janis Augustine, Salem Public Library; Carolyn Barkley, Virginia Beach Public Library; Iza Cieszynski, Newport News Public Library; Cy Dillon, Stanley Library, Ferrum College; Morel Fry, Perry Library, Old Dominion University; Ruth Kifer, Johnson Center Library, George Mason University; Mary Mayer- Hennelly, Tidewater Community College; Andy Morton, Boatwright Memorial Library, University of Richmond; Susan Paddock, Virginia Beach Public Library; Steve Preston, Bedford Public Library System; Terry Sumey of Stuart's Draft, Virginia; and myself. Also, the Foundation has its first Honorary Board Trustee—Rita Mae Brown!
One hundred years later
we are creating a new
entity that ensures our
profession has a business
plan that does endure!
The Foundation organizers have drafted bylaws, an investment policy statement, and a board manual. In the next few months, founding board members will be finalizing policies and procedures and determining how to staff the organization.
As outlined in the VLAF Board Manual, the Foundation's mission is to support the role of the Virginia Library Association, Inc. and Virginia libraries as essential institutions in a democratic society. Funds raised will be used to support our scholarship program, as well as VLA's activities on behalf of libraries throughout the Commonwealth.
The VLAF will make a difference for Virginia's libraries! In addition to its fund-raising function, it will promote libraries as vital community and information resource centers that provide services relevant to the changing needs of our residents. It will also nurture leadership and professional growth so the people of Virginia will be served by well-qualified library and information services staff from diverse backgrounds. Last, the Foundation will help ensure that Virginians have the broadest possible access to the information resources and material that they need.
In 1905, Virginia's libraries came together to form an association that could promote the interests of our institution. One hundred years later we are creating a new entity that ensures our profession has a business plan that does endure! For information on how to contribute to the Foundation, see upcoming issues of the VLA Newsletter or contact VLA's Executive Director Linda Hahne at P.O. Box 8277, Norfolk, VA 22503-0277; phone (757) 583-0041; email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also email me at Edwin.email@example.com or call (703) 324-3100.