CALL Membership Committee 2020-2021 Annual Report

Clare Gaynor Willis, Chair
Shari Berkowitz Duff
Carrie Port
Julie Pabarja

The focus of the committee’s work this year was retaining membership during the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the last renewal cycle, a significant number of CALL members (likely around 70) did not renew.  Working with the Board and past Membership committee chair Todd Ito I was able to determine that CALL probably lost renewals mostly because of the way we handled the renewal process.  Of course, the giant distraction of a global pandemic cannot be discounted as reason why people did not renew.  Over the summer, I met with a representative from our membership management software provider, Neon, and Past-President/all-around Neon guru Jessie LeMar.  In this meeting, we discovered that we needed a grace period on our memberships so that people who did not renew right on time were not stuck creating new memberships.  These new memberships are more onerous to create and also result in duplicate memberships behind the scenes, which then have to be combined.  We also decided to send out emails through Neon to everyone whose membership expired but did not renew.  These “campaign emails” were designed to have a unique link in them that people could use to renew their old membership.  Through those emails and through emails to the listserv and some personal outreach, we were able to recapture most of the members that we lost.  By November or so, most of those who still had not renewed had moved from Chicago.

At the end of the CALL year, I met with Jessie LeMar, Vice President/President-Elect Jamie Sommer, and President Lindsey Carpino to determine a plan to prevent trouble with this year’s renewal.  We decided on a lengthy 90-day grace period on memberships to give members lots of time to renew.  We also decided to put into place reminder emails from the Neon system telling people their membership was due and giving them a link to renew it.  Those reminders will now go out 30 and 15 days prior to the renewal date, May 31st.  We also decided to put in place overdue reminder emails to go out 7, 30, and 60 days after the renewal date.  I believe that all of these measures, put together, will result in more renewals and less confusion.


The Committee also met in September and discussed ways to try and recruit new CALL members.  We discussed ways that Placement and Recruitment could work with Membership to alert Membership to new librarians in the area.  We also discussed updating the CALL brochure and reaching out to library science programs.  I did create a draft email that anyone on the Board or the Committee could use to encourage someone to join CALL.  I shared it with the Board and did have occasion to use it once (although the person did not join).  Unfortunately, regaining our lost members took up most of my work with CALL this year and our efforts to recruit members did not go very far.  Next year, it would be good to revisit those ideas with the committee now that member retention is less of an issue.

Finally, the committee did explore the possibility of creating a print directory by pulling down the member list from Neon and creating a PDF.  Ultimately, we decided that it would be better to improve the directory in Neon and discontinue providing a print/PDF directory entirely.  We worked with Neon to discover the best ways to group members together by employer so that people can search the directory for, say, everyone at Sidley, the way they used to with the old directory.  Next year’s committee can put those actions into place.  So the one thing the committee needs from the Board going forward is for the Board to remove the line about creating a print directory from our charge.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve CALL this year!  It was a challenge, but a pleasure.