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MLA Management Model: Detailed Information

The MLA Board of Directors approved a change in the MLA staff and headquarters management model. Effective January 1, 2019, MLA staff will transition to MCI USA, providing MLA with full management services out of MCI’s downtown Chicago headquarters.

The Association Management and Consulting Model

Association management companies (AMCs) can provide association services at a lower cost than an association is able to provide directly. Several library associations familiar to MLA members operate under an AMC model, including the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association for Library and Information Science Education, International Association of School Librarianship, and Special Libraries Association. For us, this model will enable MLA to increase its investment in education, support of MLA communities, the annual meeting, advocacy for the profession, MLA data and information technology (IT) infrastructure, fundraising, and more.

As the largest global provider of strategic engagement and activation solutions, MCI is recognized by the American Business Ethics Awards as one of the top companies in the United States for vision, leadership, and integrity. Affiliating with MCI will enable current MLA staff to align with the expertise of more than 2,300 MCI professionals.

Context for the Decision

Since January 2015, the MLA Board has been focused on high priorities that have significant and meaningful impact on MLA’s ability to deliver on its mission. Recent high-priority areas of focus include:

  • modernizing MLA technology and improving the member/customer experience
  • strengthening research training for the profession
  • enhancing MLA’s role as the primary education provider for the profession
  • setting professional competency standards
  • improving MLA community organization and reconnecting communities to MLA programs
  • positioning MLA as a thought leader
  • evaluating and improving MLA practices as they relate to diversity and inclusion

Process for the Decision

Considering MLA’s high-priority areas, the MLA Board of Directors met in executive session in February 2018 to discuss the merits of AMCs and charged its Finance Committee, chaired by Treasurer Amy Blevins, and its executive director, Kevin Baliozian, to explore the AMC model.

The Finance Committee met with the president of the Association Management Company Institute (AMCI), the trade association for AMCs, on April 10, 2018, via video conference, to get a better understanding of the AMC model, discuss the process, and identify criteria for AMCs that would be best matched to MLA’s size and strategic objectives. AMCI suggested eight AMCs located in the United States that could meet MLA's specifications.

The Finance Committee issued a request for information (RFI) to the eight AMCs on June 11, 2018. Five of the eight AMCs responded to the RFI.

The Finance Committee reviewed the proposals and invited three AMCs to participate in a request for proposal (RFP) issued July 13, 2018, and due August 12, 2018. One of the three AMCs declined to respond.

The Finance Committee reviewed the remaining two proposals and held separate video conference calls with each respondent in August 2018. It determined that MCI’s proposal was the strongest, being very robust and professional, having been built on extensive research of MLA, and having a full understanding of MLA’s objectives.

On September 26, 2018, MLA Immediate Past President Barbara A. Epstein, AHIP, FMLA, represented the board during a visit to MCI USA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, with MLA Executive Director Kevin Baliozian. This visit confirmed the Finance Committee’s opinion of MCI and was further strengthened by MCI’s genuine enthusiasm for and dedication to a future collaboration with MLA.

All MLA Board members had the opportunity to meet with MCI leadership on one of two video conference calls (September 1 and 4, 2018), with continuing discussion of related topics. Kevin Baliozian worked with MCI leadership to finalize the details of the draft agreement.

MLA President Beverly Murphy, AHIP, FMLA, charged Barbara Epstein to facilitate the final process on behalf of the board, including the review of the draft MLA/MCI contract. Barbara Epstein, Neil Rambo (from the Finance Committee), and Kevin Baliozian consulted with MLA’s counsel, Bryna Dahlin, on the contract with input from Beverly Murphy and MLA President-Elect Julia Esparza, AHIP. Beverly Murphy also charged MLA Board Members Gurpreet K. Rana and Elizabeth R. Lorbeer, AHIP, to review MCI’s references on behalf of the board.

The Finance Committee reviewed the financial details of the draft agreement and met on October 30, 2018, for one final call prior to the November MLA Board meeting.

The MLA Board of Directors approved the decision to affiliate with MCI USA on November 8, 2018.


Execution of the change in MLA’s management model is the responsibility of MLA’s executive director, under the supervision of the MLA Board of Directors.

The effective date of the transition is January 1, 2019. Members can continue to contact MLA staff as usual following the transition.

For further questions, please contact MLA’s Executive Director Kevin Baliozian.

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