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Q & A about MLA’s 2018 Dues Increase


In August, the MLA Board of Directors voted to increase MLA dues for four individual membership categories for 2018. Have questions? Find answers below—or contact MLA membership services staff Tomi Gunn, 312.419.9094 x11 or Kate Corcoran (x12) with your questions.

Why is MLA increasing individual membership dues?

Membership counts have dropped an average of 4.7% per year each of the last 6 years, likely reflecting a similar drop in health science library jobs. Dues increases are able to temporarily compensate for the drop in lowered counts and revenues as illustrated in the graph below.

Dues revenues 2008-2017

What exactly are my MLA membership dues used for?

Members’ dues account for 20% of MLA’s total revenues. Your dues support essential MLA programs and services such as the open access JMLA, public policy and advocacy, and MLA communities. Dues are also used to invest in new programming such as MEDLIB-ED and other increased educational opportunities for members.

Are all membership dues increasing?

No! Only the following four voting individual membership categories will see an increase:

  • Individual: from $195 to $225
  • Individual/New: from $130 to $150
  • International: from $130 to $150
  • Affiliate: from $120 to $140

What about other membership categories?

Only the member categories above will increase. Below are ongoing fees for the remaining membership categories:

  • Individual - reduced dues: $120, for those with a salary below $40K
  • Individual - unemployed (1-year only): $50
  • Students: $50
  • Emeritus: $75
  • International - Hinari-eligible: $25
  • Institutions (last increased in 2017):
    • Budget $0 - $199,999: $325
    • Budget $200,000-$699,999: $530
    • Budget $700,000+: $760 (no change)
    • Tier 4 (with 5 individual $50 rebates): $880

My MLA membership is important to me and I plan to renew, but it would help if I could make payments. Can I pay for my dues in installments or do I have to pay all at once?

MLA is looking at options to offer automatic split payments, but in the meantime, members can contact Tomi Gunn, Membership Services Manager, to set up a 2-payment installment plan.

How is MLA reducing its costs?

MLA has reduced costs by $350K/year (or 12% of its budget) over the last two years through reorganization, staff reductions, and other headquarters savings—while maintaining and enhancing programs and improving member experience.

What would happen if MLA had not increased dues?

Not raising dues would reduce revenues by $77K over two years. MLA would have to find savings by cutting both programs and additional staff.

Who makes the decision to raise dues for MLA members?

The MLA board sets dues for members. The board can also lower dues at any time.

Has MLA ever really lowered membership dues?

In 2017, the MLA Board created new categories of individual membership to make membership more affordable for those with financial challenges.

  • Unemployed MLA members can pay, for one year, $50 for full membership instead of the reduced-dues rate of $120.
  • The board also created a low cost membership category allowing members in HINARI-eligible countries to pay $25 for MLA membership.
  • Also in 2017, MLA piloted a new institutional membership category in which institutions are able provide $50 rebates for staff to use toward their individual MLA memberships. This pilot will continue through 2018.

When was the last MLA dues increase?

The last increase was a 2-year phased increase in 2012 and 2013. Prior to that was another 2-year phased increase In 2005 and 2006. According to MLA bylaws, dues for voting class membership categories can only be raised once every 3 years, while dues for non-voting membership classes such as institutional and affiliate memberships and can be raised at any time.

Why aren’t dues phased in over two years with this increase?

Raising dues over one year instead of two will save MLA money and increase revenues by $27K (assuming a continued 4.7% decrease in membership counts for 2018 and 2019).

Does MLA expect a decrease in members because of the dues increase?

Past dues increases have had no statistically measurable effect on retention (how many members stay members). We hope that you as members carefully evaluate your MLA membership and the value it brings to your professional life, with communities, discounts, advocacy support, grants, and publications (to name a few) when it comes time to renew. All members have a grace period through March 2018 to pay their dues.

What is MLA’s retention rate?

MLA membership retention has increased from 80% to 84% from 2011 to 2016. The American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) 2012 benchmark for retention for professional associations was 85 percent; a 2017 membership benchmarking report by Marketing General Inc. put membership retention for all associations at 81-84%.

How do MLA dues amounts compare to other associations?

MLA dues have been either below or comparable to other specialty library, information, or service association membership fees. See chart below.


Other associations Individual Student Last increase Notes
American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) $247 $62 2017 Board rasied dues, not to exceed CPI
American Library Association (ALA only) $137 $36 2014, 2015 Dues approved by vote of membership
Association of College and Research Libraries (ALA+ACRL) $200 2017 (gradual increases 2013-17, from $57 to $63) ALA $137 + ACRL $63
American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) $380 $50 2017 Board sets dues. 100% digital delivery
American Theological Library Association up to $182 $35 2015 Based on $5k salary increments. Most revenue from database sales, which subsidizes membership
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) $249 $49 2017
MLA $195 $50 2013
National Association of Social Workers $225 $57 10/2015 Board approves dues. Installment payment option
Society of American Archivists (SAA) Up to $310 $53 2017-2019 stepped Based on salary increments
Special Libraries Association (SLA) $200 $50 2016 No longer based on salary increments (2017)

What if I have more questions?

Contact us! Members are welcome to contact MLA Board of Directors members or headquarters staff directly.