ARCHIVED: AALL's Special Interest Section Dues: an FAQ

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Friday, September 17, 2010

There is a petition in circulation requesting a change to AALL Bylaws regarding our SIS dues structure. The petition was originally sent to the law library directors at large law firms, who were asked to circulate it to their library staff. This week the petition was posted to some listservs and blogs.

As a result, we have received calls and emails from members with questions about the proposal. Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to provide members with information about SIS membership and dues. I also thought it would be beneficial for all of our members to be aware of the petition and its potential ramifications. In order to put this proposed bylaws change to a vote of the membership, at least 5 percent of AALL members must sign the petition.

How many AALL members are also members of an SIS?

As of August 31, 3,704 members were members of one or more SISs. SIS membership totals range from as many as 1,350 to as few as 70. But, no matter the number, each SIS provides members with the ability to share expertise and knowledge with colleagues who share similar interests.

When we talk about AALL and SISs, aren't we all part of the same professional organization?

Yes, we are. SISs were created to allow members to network and share knowledge and expertise in areas of interest in law librarianship. In order to fund SISs activities, a dues structure was developed. The dues pay for the additional administrative support necessary to support our SISs and their many programs and activities. SISs are not separate entities, they are part of AALL.

Did AALL increase SIS dues rates?

At its July 2010 meeting, the AALL Executive Board approved an increase in special interest section dues. Currently, members who belong to an SIS pay an annual $15 fee per SIS. The Executive Board approved an increase in that fee to $20 per year per SIS for the dues year beginning June 1, 2011.

Why did AALL increase SIS dues rates?

The purpose of the fee increase is to provide adequate support for section activities and programs. The last increase in section dues was in 2004.

How are SIS dues allocated?

Of the total SIS dues collected, 50 percent is credited to AALL's general operating fund; the other 50 percent is credited to each SIS treasury. Currently, about $53,000 from SIS dues income is credited to AALL's operating fund on an annual basis.

How often are collected SIS dues allocated?

All SIS dues are credited to each SIS and the AALL operating fund twice a year. Dues are credited on May 31, the end of the membership year, to ensure SISs receive all dues collected for that membership year. Dues are again credited on September 30, at the end of the fiscal year, to ensure SISs receive any dues collected from new members and members who were late in paying their dues. This is the most efficient way to properly account for and credit dues payments.

Does the dues allocation for AALL administrative support fully cover costs?

No, the $53,000 allocation does not fully cover the costs for the administrative support provided to our SISs. For example, our contracts with the headquarters hotel and the convention facility for the Annual Meeting include rooms to support all of the meetings and educational programs hosted by SISs. Based on usage for the past three years, the average annual cost for the rooms used by SISs is $51,575. In addition, the direct cost for supporting the SIS representatives and the SIS Council Chair, on an annual basis, is about $20,500. This does not even include the costs for routine administrative services outlined below.

How would the circulating petition for a Bylaws amendment change this?

If the current proposal were to be adopted, 20 percent of the SIS dues collected would be allocated to the AALL operating fund, the remaining 80 percent would be credited to each SIS treasury. The AALL operating fund would be credited about $28,000 annually.

How would this affect services currently provided to SISs?

AALL would no longer be able to provide the same level of support to our SISs. This would be an additional burden for SISs, especially the smaller SISs, which represent the greatest number of SISs

What is the current balance in each SIS treasury?

Balances range from $5,000 to $50,000. A complete accounting is provided here.

What services do SISs currently receive from AALL?

Each of AALL's 13 SISs receive the following services, which are supported by AALL's administrative offices and AALL's general operating fund:


  • SIS Council Chair is fully supported financially to attend the AALL Executive Board meetings, two per year, as the representative for SISs.
  • AALL Representatives are fully supported financially by AALL, 11 of which represent the interests of and liaise with SISs. Representatives travel to meetings, throughout the U.S., one to two times each year.
  • Creation, review and management of legal documents and contracts required by SISs for their publication royalty, work for hire, and other such agreements.


  • Manage and provide accounting services for SIS treasuries, including account reconciliation and processing of account receivables and payables.
  • Oversight and management of annual audit.
  • Issuance of quarterly financial reports to SIS treasurers.
  • Management of SIS endowments, including investments and processing of donations.
  • Training and ongoing support of SIS treasurers.
  • Liability insurance coverage for SISs.


  • Reserve space and manage logistics required for all SIS activities, including education programs, business meetings, committee meetings, receptions, and other events. The average number of SIS events held and managed at each annual meeting is 160.
  • SIS education program coordination and scheduling.
  • Education program descriptions and editing for the online and final programs.
  • Online registration and ticketing for SIS events.
  • Event coordination and management of all food and beverage orders.
  • Management of audio/visual orders and room setup details.
  • Ordering, proofing, and management of all event signage, including maintenance of the SIS sign inventory.
  • Solicitation of sponsorships for SIS events.
  • Production of SIS awards, including plaques and award announcements.
  • Reconciliation of all SIS invoices related to annual meeting services.


  • Hosting and support services for SIS websites.
  • Discussion list hosting and management for SISs, including SIS committees.
  • Online election system use and management.
  • Survey software use and management.
  • SIS webmaster training and ongoing support.


  • Billing and collection of all SIS dues.
  • Maintenance of SIS membership lists.
  • SIS recruitment marketing, to current and potential members.
  • Project management assistance, editorial support, and production coordination for SIS brochures and special publications.
  • Order fulfillment and shipping of SIS special publication and materials orders.
  • Maintain inventory and archives for SIS materials.
  • Promotion of SIS programs and activities.


  • Webinar program development and production support.
  • AALL Grants program to provide financial support to educational program development.