VALA Annual Report 2019/2020

Read about VALA’s 2018/2019 financial year activities in the annual President’s report, Treasurer’s report and AGM powerpoint presentation.

President’s Report | Treasurer’s Report | AGM presentation

VALA President’s Report 2019/20

VALA President’s Report 2019/20

It is my pleasure to present the President’s report for the 2019-20 VALA financial year.

This past year has seen continuing changes in the way VALA operates and much of this was in place or occurring before the impact of Covid 19.

Our VALA Committee and VALA 2020 conference committee were able to expand their membership to include interstate members, as VALA consolidated holding our meetings in the online environment. This brought a depth of experience, knowledge and a reach into the breadth of Australia as never before. We hope this will continue to help VALA to grow as an Australian library professional association.

I would like to thank every member of each of these committees, for their time, efforts, professionalism and passion both for VALA and our sector. They have given well above and beyond the call and I am truly grateful for what they have given to VALA and what in turn have received both from them efforts and from my work with them. Thank you.

2019-2020 has been a busy year for VALA and what follows is just a small part.

Updating our Rules and our Governance

In August 2018, the VALA Committee established a new statement of purpose and values which have informed all of our strategic thinking and our key deliverables since.

In keeping with that review of “who we are”, the current Committee, lead by Secretary Jen Eddy, has undertaken a full review of the VALA Rules and a critical part of the business of this AGM is to accept the changes that we are recommending to the VALA Rules – aligning them with our new purpose and values, and updating them to better reflect VALA as we are today.

We have also established the Finance Committee to support the Treasurer in the implementation of our Finance Strategy, and confirmed the VALA Conference and VALA Tech Camp organising committees with delegated authority to deliver those 2 key events biennially.

Individual Committee Members have greater strategic responsibility within their portfolio areas, and are working to deliver new frameworks for membership and events.

Content Management

In 2018 we digitised all our past conference proceedings. Our project to identify, organise and catalogue this rich treasure trove made good progress under the guidance of the Content Management team (Melissa, Matthias, Monica, Alissa).


This year, our community has been particularly challenged by the global pandemic. Our response has been to support all sectors of our VALA network by being truly open, inclusive and responsive. Our “Covid Care Package” includes:

  • New Events – Leaning In, Under the Hood
  • Membership renewal extension to 30 September
  • At Home Learning – all of VALA2020, online and free to access
  • Industry Support – aggregating offers of resources, services and support from our vendor community
Events Program

We delivered an outstanding program of VALA major events, including both our signature events – Tech Camp 2019 and VALA2020 – along with our regular face to face events and webinars. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we introduced new events under the banners “Leaning In” and “Under the Hood”.

  • 10-11 April 2019 – Tech Camp 2019 (2-day event – Sold Out)
  • 26 June 2019 – An Open book: Big Data, Literature and Ethics (AGM)
  • 21 November 2019 – Solving Wicked Problems with Data and Creativity (webinar)
  • 11-13 February 2020 – VALA2020 (3-day conference)
  • 4 March 2020 – Library Perceptions of Technology Vendors and Products with Marshall Breeding (webinar)
  • 29 April 2020 – Leaning in with Public Libraries (online meeting)
  • 27 May 2020 – Under the Hood – driving technology solutions – with Informit (webinar)
  • 3 June 2020 – Leaning In with Public Libraries – follow up (online meeting)

Our 20th VALA biennial conference, VALA2020 shook things up and:

  • Introduced new presentation types (Critical Conversations and Speakers’ Corner) to remove barriers for broad participation in our program
  • Saw our first standing ovation for Keynote speaker Siobhan Leachman
  • Moved to the new MCEC, where our conference and exhibition spaces are integrated and delegate-friendly
  • Sold out Exhibition Booths, and successfully integrated Pods and EPosters as elements of the Hall
  • Created value-for-money registration rates at or below the cost of the past 3 VALA conferences
  • Supported our commitment to participation with our Access and Inclusion program
  • Delivered over 1000 participants and a $1M turnover

The VALA2022 Organising Committee will have its first meetings in August 2020.

VALA Committee

The 2019/20 Committee has been:

MichelleMcLeanCasey Cardinia LibrariesPresident
MelissaParentState Library of VictoriaVice President/Co-Leader Tech Camp 2021
HughRundleLa Trobe UniversityTreasurer
JenniferEddyUniversity of MelbourneSecretary
KatieHadenAustralian Government SolitorCo-Chair VALA2020
MatthiasLiffersUniversity of WACommittee Member, Co-Leader Tech Camp 2021
AlissaMcCullochNational Library AustraliaCommittee Member
CarmelO’SullivanUniversity of Southern QueenslandCommittee Member
TimTillackEBSCOCommittee Member (to October 2019)
MichaelTullyInformitCommittee Member (from December 2019)
MonicaWilliamsStar of the SeaCommittee Member

I would particularly like to express thanks to outgoing committee member, Katie Haden. As co-conference chair and committee member, she has challenged VALA and myself to think beyond the standard and we have benefited from her passion and her dedication. Thank you Katie and good luck with all you do.

I would also like to thank those committee members standing for re-election. Hugh Rundle who is giving VALA’s finances a good ‘seeing to’, ensuring everything is in top shape for the committee and those who will follow. To Matthias Liffer who continues to drive us in all things technical and also challenges the status quo and who has met the challenge of participating in not only another state, but a vastly different time zone. And to Michael Tully, who has only come on board recently, but has brought a vendor’s perspective and a potential new VALA Program – Under the Hood – thank you for bringing a fresh perspective.

And there can never be thanks enough for Lesley Ryall and her team at Good Work Group. Lesley, Kim and Fiona run a brilliant office for VALA and their expertise, support, professionalism and friendship can never be valued highly enough. We sincerely appreciate all you do as the VALA executive, including taking us to places we had never imagined. Thank you.

And thank you to you, our members:

  • For giving me the honour of being the VALA President this year – it has been an amazing opportunity and I have sincerely valued the opportunity to work with so many dedicated, professional and passionate people
  • For putting your hands up and getting involved
  • For supporting VALA with your membership and with your participation in VALA events

Thank you,

Michelle McLean
President 2019/20

24 June 2020

VALA Treasurer’s Report 2019/20

VALA Treasurer’s Report 2019/20

I am pleased to present the Treasurer’s Report for the Financial Year ended 31 March 2020. This reporting period incorporates the delivery of VALA’s second Tech Camp in April 2019, as well as the VALA2020 conference in February this year.

Financial Performance

The biennial VALA Conference is a currently a crucial financial contributor to the Association. As we expect (and plan for) in a conference year, the Balance Sheet for this financial year has recorded a profit. This is made up of a healthy return on conference together with a modest return on our managed investments.

  • Overall Statement of Profit/Loss

2020 = $85,054
2019 = $(92,811)
2018 = $108,727
2017 = $(69,625)
2016 = $42,593

VALA’s current net assets of $483,121 reflect a decrease of approximately 1.6% on the Balance Sheet against March 2018 (the ‘comparable’ reporting period). The Profit of $85,054 in the 2020FY was not sufficient to cover the loss last year of $92,811 and was down $23,673 against the Profit in the 2018FY. This reduction in Profit against 2018 was made up of decreases in Trading Profit of $9860, $9500 on Sale of investments, and $4313 in the unrealised Investment Portfolio valuation.

  • Assets

2020 = $483,121
2019 = $398,067
2018 = $490,878
2017 = $382,151
2016 = $451,776


Income from memberships is comparable to 2018/19. Whilst membership subscription fee income is down compared to the previous ‘conference year’ of 2017/18, the fluctuations in membership between ‘conference’ and ‘non-conference’ years show signs of flattening out :-.


$ value of membership in FY2019/20 = $46,114
$ value of membership in FY2018/19 = $45,410
$ value of membership in FY2017/18 = $50,220
$ value of membership in FY2016/17 = $40,009
$ value of membership in FY2015/16 = $44,297
$ value of membership in FY2014/15 = $29,975
$ value of membership in FY2013/14 = $33,090
$ value of membership in FY2012/13 = $27,935


At 31 March 2020 VALA had retained cash holdings of $192,284 (compared with $178,284 at 31 March 2019), of which $145,826 is held outside of VALA’s investment portfolio. This is sufficient to support VALA’s normal activities for over 12 months.

VALA’s investment portfolio was valued at $290,275 at 31 March 2020 compared with $324,206 at 31 March 2019. This variance was due to the sale of some investments now retained in cash, and unrealised devaluation of the portfolio. I would like to thank our financial advisors at Morrows for their input and industry advice, and the ongoing management of our investments in a challenging investment environment.


With an investment portfolio and cash reserves built up through the prudent financial management of successive VALA Committees, the Association is well positioned to survive and thrive in the current COVID-19 situation. Cash reserves alone are sufficient to cover approximately 18 months of ordinary VALA activity.

However, VALA was extremely lucky that our biennial conference was held on 11-13 February this year. If it had been scheduled just 6 weeks later, the conference would likely have been cancelled, and whilst VALA holds insurance against such a situation (protecting us against major financial loss), we would certainly not have returned a surplus this year. COVID-19 is a timely reminder that for the Association to survive and thrive, our income streams should be as diversified as possible, minimising reliance on any single event or income stream.

To assist members experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 VALA Committee increased the lapsing period for memberships by 4 months, and offered payment plans for membership fees. Committee has also decided to freeze membership fees at the current rate for another year, meaning VALA membership subscriptions paid in 2021 will remain at the same rate as 2019 and 2020.

VALA’s Financial Strategy and Future Reforms

Over the last year, the VALA Committee has begun a process of financial reform. A Finance Strategy was approved in November, committing the Association to:

  • establish a Finance subcommittee
  • direct our investment portfolio into assets aligned with the Association’s values
  • increase the Association’s membership and therefore the proportion of the Association’s income that comes from membership subscriptions
  • actively seek ways to decrease the Association’s reliance on surpluses from the biennial conference

The Finance subcommittee terms of reference were approved at Committee’s March 2020 meeting, and the subcommittee will begin its work shortly. Removing the imperative for Conference to return a significant surplus will provide greater freedom to future Conference organising committees in the way conferences are delivered, allow for more consistent annual budgets, and focus Committee’s efforts on delivering value to members in every year.


McLean Delmo Bentleys have completed their third audit for us for the year ended 31 March 2020 which was uneventful and efficient, thanks almost entirely to the continuing excellent accounting and record keeping of the VALA Secretariat team of Fiona and Lesley. I would like to thank both the audit team and the Secretariat team for their work.

Whilst accountability in the form of professional audits is important, the VALA Committee is ultimately accountable to the Association’s members. In the coming year members should expect to hear more about progress against the Finance Strategy, and opportunities to contribute to future iterations of this important aspect of VALA’s planning.

  • Audit for the year ended 31 March 2020 was successfully completed by McLean Delmo Bentleys.
  • Regular financial advice regarding VALA investments was provided by Morrows Private Wealth Pty Ltd.
  • A surplus of $85,054 was returned in 2019/20.
  • VALA has recorded significant members’ equity of $483,121 at 31 March 2020 and remains in a sound financial position despite COVID-19.
  • VALA Committee has begun reforms to the Association’s finances to reduce reliance on surpluses from the biennial conference.

Hugh Rundle
VALA Treasurer
18 June 2019