Association                                                 PO Box 3067    La Grande OR 97850




October 30, 2009



Ms. Samantha Hines

Mansfield Library

University of Montana

Missoula, MT  59812-9936


Dear Samantha,


As I mentioned in my email to you, the OLA Executive Board has debated the benefits of our membership in PNLA on and off for many years.  We spent many hours examining the various pros and cons of our membership in PNLA and did not reach this decision quickly or without a great deal of soul searching.  A summary of our discussion points, both pro and con, and our concerns follows:



-          Member states include OR, WA, ID, MT, AK, B.C. and Alberta.

-         Currently there are about 250 members in PNLA.

-          As of January, 2009, there were less than 30 individual members in PNLA from Oregon.

-          Most of the Oregon members are academic libraries who subscribe in order to receive PNLA Quarterly.

-          Membership in a state goes up to take advantage of conference registration discounts but library staff do not consistently maintain membership in subsequent years.

-          The historic mission for PNLA to nurture networking among the states and provinces is not needed in this day and age of electronic and telecommunications.

-          PNLA dues expire each June; the Gift Tool systems did not facilitate renewal reminders.

-          PNLA web site is inconsistently available.


Young Readers Choice Awards (YRCA):

-          OLA has a state representative on the YRCA Committee.

-          Public libraries across the state make suggestions for YRCA nominees.

-          Public libraries across the state have ballots available for voting each spring.

-          Only a few Oregon public and schools libraries collected ballots for YRCA in 2009  - a majority of libraries did not participate in the "children's choice" voting.

-          Many public libraries have multiple copies of YRCA titles available even if they are not actively promoting ballots; they may continue to participate at this level, and could without membership.

-          OLA, ORA and OASL will be meeting in November 2009 to discuss forming a partnership that would establish state Juvenile and Young Adult Awards.  Currently ORA sponsors the Patricia Gallagher Picture Book Award and OASL sponsors the Beverly Cleary Award (first chapter books).

-          Schools throughout Oregon have shifted their emphasis from YRCA to the Battle of the Books.

-          Other states, which also belong to PNLA, offer state awards.


LEADS Institute:

-          OLAŐs membership in PNLA allows participation in the institute.

-          Para-professionals and professionals from Oregon may apply to attend.

-          OLA pays part of the cost of attendance (overall cost is approximately $1800 per person/part grant money, part state organization money).

-          Past LEADS institutes have been partially funded by a grant that is no longer available.

-          Library systems will likely need to contribute more money for future participants due to a lack of grant funding.

-          The LEADS Institute has a good reputation based on feedback from its participants.

-          LEADS Institute trainers are not exclusive to PNLA - there are other reputable leadership trainers available across the nation.

-          Several other options for LEADS Institutes exist – examples are 3-5 day trainings, monthly trainings, on-line training and webinars.

-          Several other states offer leadership conferences which are open to Oregon participants.

-          The Western Council of Libraries is discussing options for leadership conferences - all PNLA states belong to the Western Council.

-          OLA could consider offering leadership training as a pre-conference or conference within a conference.

-          Several OLA members have participated in the LEADS Institute - this has benefited Oregon libraries.

-          Only a few LEADS Institute attendees have become active officers and members of PNLA.

-          Almost all Oregon PNLA Leads participants do not join PNLA following leadership training.


PNLA Jobline: 

-          Currently access is open to anyone.

-          Could possibly be blocked for PNLA members only.

-          Several other job lines are available, including OLA Hotline.


PNLA Conference:

-          The PNLA Conference appears to offer an income opportunity as a summer conference that could appeal to academic and school library staff region-wide, with overlap interest for public library staff; a different business model could maximize that opportunity.

-          Attendees experience a small conference with dynamic speakers, local authors and regional networking opportunities.

-          This yearŐs conference was in Missoula, MT - approximately 300 people attended.

-          The host state or province representative serves as the conference chair.

-          Most attendees are from the host state/province.

-          Oregon is slated to host the PNLA Conference in 2013 - this is possibly the same year Oregon co-hosts the OLA/WLA Conference.

-          Too many conferences in same place may compete with one another.

-          Libraries have limited budgets particularly for out-of-state and out-of-country travel.


Representation on the PNLA Board:

-         OLA has state representative on the PNLA Board.

-         The PNLA Representative attends three board meetings a year as well as the annual conference.

-         The state representative submits a state organization summary for the PNLA website twice a year.

-         The state representative is charged with sharing information about PNLA member events.

-         A duplication of information services exists between PNLA, Northwest Central and Libs-OR.

-         Total expenses for PNLA representative travel in 2008-09 were $2027.


Feedback from Oregon PNLA members:  

-          Results of a PNLA Questionnaire issued to Oregon members in 2008 overwhelmingly recommended discontinuing our membership for a variety of reasons.


To conclude, the prevailing sentiment of our board is that the cost of our PNLA membership, in time, travel, services and low participation and interest, is simply too high when measured against benefits to our members.  This is particularly acute during the 2009-10 fiscal year when we have reduced conference income due to the Public Libraries Association location in Portland. The current state of the economy has forced us to reduce costs and eliminate duplication in order to remain a viable organization.  We recognize PNLA is in the process of reinventing itself; unfortunately OLA cannot continue to put its resources toward that effort.  Thank you for all you have done over the years in support of Oregon libraries and best of luck in the future.


Dana Campbell will be attending the PNLA Board meeting in November and can clarify our position if something is confusing.  I am also available to answer any questions you may have.  Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.







Connie Anderson-Cohoon

OLA President 2009-10

541-552-6820 (office)

541-488-0799 (home)

[email protected]