MLA Newsletter
Music Library Association No.186 Jul-Aug 2016
From the Board
photograph of Music Library Association Fiscal Officer Andrew Justice

Greetings from the wild world of fiscal planning--I may or may not advise starting a new position halfway across the country in the months leading up to the creation of an annual budget for our beloved association. Fortunately, the southern California sunshine (seriously, it does not rain here--and I grew up in Oregon, people) imbued me with a mellow, New Age-y approach to life, and I was hence very Zen-like when preparing for how MLA would pay for 2016-2017. [pause for laughter]

But I get ahead of myself: Hi, I'm Andrew Justice, your Fiscal Officer! I suppose this column is to give you a window to what the financial planning side of being on the Board is about. First I should note that I had an excellent role model in Tracey Rudnick, who handled the work with a detail-oriented tenacity that would make the most accomplished cataloger (or Vincent Duckles) red with envy. On the other hand, I did have to succeed Tracey Rudnick, and the phrase "a daunting challenge" doesn't even come close to doing justice (no pun intended).

The main thrust of fiscal planning comes immediately after the annual meeting, when the Fiscal Officer (FO) solicits budget requests from committees, officers, etc. who received an allocation the previous year and welcomes new appeals which match the Board's goal of encouraging innovation from every corner of the association. Once the requests are received and collated, the FO puts them into a template for the next year's budget…and then the fun begins.

Traditionally, the annual Board meetings in Middleton, WI (where the offices of A-R Editions

reside) are three days long, with the first being simultaneous sessions for the Finance and Planning committees, followed by two solid days of full Board sessions. The FO spends much of the first and second nights in Middleton madly trying to bring the unruly Excel spreadsheet that is the budget template into some sort of meaningful order, so they can take the Finance Committee through it line by line, hopefully ironing out all of the considerations and discussions necessary to balance the budget, before presenting a mostly-finalized version to the Board where it's voted upon and approved.

This year threw some interesting curveballs at us, mainly (and perhaps unsurprisingly) related to the annual conference; different contracts and locations often means different costs, and Orlando presented us with a few major challenges. Aside from being generally more expensive than Cincinnati, the wireless access in the meeting rooms (not the hotel rooms or public areas) is costing MLA a not insignificant amount, at least in comparison to past years when we've been compensated for that expense. To address this, we discussed and ultimately approved the use of the MLA Fund to cover the expense--per my email to MLA-L of June 23rd, we felt that this is an essential component to the association's work at the conference and hence an appropriate use of the fund.

Another challenge was the streaming of sessions, which has been a popular component since the Denver meeting in 2015. The company we've been using for this compensated us then and in Cincinnati, so it was time for MLA to pony up. We discussed a model whereby those not attending the conference in person could have access to the live streams by paying a modest fee (which we compared against other associations offering a

From the Board, continued

similar service). It's clear from post-conference surveys and communicating with colleagues that streaming will continue to be a vital aspect of the conference experience, so the Board is motivated to explore and identify the best and most equitable method(s) to address how MLA can continue to offer it to the membership and wider interested public; keep an eye out for announcements regarding this, as February nears.

"Wicked Problems" aside, the main demand for the FO at the Middleton meeting is the near-Sisyphean task of simply getting the budget template to be comfortably in the black by the time the Board votes to approve it. I'm happy to say that we successfully achieved that, thanks to the superhuman help of Paula Hickner, Hermine Vermeij, and Janelle West. Seriously, I (and by extension, all of us) owe them a debt of gratitude and/or drinks in Orlando; I leave it to your individual conscience.

For those interested in this kind of work, my best piece of advice is: learn Excel. Knowledge of all the association's doings and financial needs is obviously important as well, but one

of the great things about Board work is that you're surrounded by people who either know and/or have the energy to learn things that one person can't ever hope to hold in their head. But if you can walk out of a budget meeting and know--absolutely know--that your spreadsheet minds its P's and Q's, that is a great feeling. On the other hand, following a scrupulous juggernaut like Tracey Rudnick…well, just pray you're not a violist as well. Overall, the collaborative aspect is probably what I enjoy most about being on the Board. You get this wonderful mash-up of experiences and perspectives and ideas, and usually by the end of a meeting, I feel like I've done really good work for the association I care most about. Plus, it's really fun to make a motion to adjourn the meeting in the voice of Howlin' Wolf and then have Damian Iseminger second the motion, following suit.

I would be remiss in not actively thanking Michael Rogan, Mark McKnight, and the rest of my Board colleagues, as well as Pat Wall, Jim Zychowicz, and everyone at A-R for this undeniably excellent experience.

Photo of Fiscal officer Andrew Justice dressed as Darth Vader sitting at a desk
Pictured: Darth Andrew hard at work at his previous job at UNT.