James Rachlin - Plan Ahead for Your Libraries Financial Future

It's most common for libraries to budget a year at a time, but this year plans got derailed as COVID19 forced Directors and Boards to deal with the challenges, uncertainty and fears of interrupted revenues. Would better financial preparation have helped you know how well your library was positioned to withstand the virus?

It's most common for libraries to budget a year at a time, but this year plans got derailed as COVID19 forced Directors and Boards to deal with the challenges, uncertainty and fears of interrupted revenues. Would better financial preparation have helped you know how well your library was positioned to withstand the virus?

Using the impact of COVID19 as an example, this session will discuss what it takes to be financially resilient, how to identify different types of financial threats and the appropriate response. We'll also discuss the importance of forecasting financial performance three, five or more years ahead of time, and how a financial projection can be used to expose your library's strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, a projection can show where trends are taking you, so you can make modest course corrections over time rather than waiting until a problem gets too big to handle.

Many financial challenges await you and COVID19 has exposed many of them. However, in this session, you'll find out that there's a big difference between a permanent change in your financial outlook and a temporary one, and differences in the way you should respond to each type of impact. Misunderstand your financial challenge, and you could end up making sacrifices that don't need to be made, or delaying tough decisions that will only get tougher. Finally, we'll discuss what financial health looks like. Cash balances, balanced operations, and a funded capital reserve all play a role in making sure the library is financially sound. We'll talk about what these measures should look like and how to get there.


98% of library funding is political in nature and we designed this conference to help you build the support you need for funding your library.

James ("Jamie") Rachlin is the founder and President of Meristem Advisors. Meristem Advisors was founded on the principle that clients want and deserve meaningful dialogue with their municipal advisors. Meristem provides traditional bond financing services, but provides consulting services for financial planning, capital planning, budgeting, and revenue forecasting. The hallmark of Meristem Advisors is clear, understandable, and actionable communication with clients and their governing boards. Prior to starting Meristem, Jamie was a public finance banker for 25 years structuring bond issues for a variety of municipal borrowers including libraries and library districts. He brings his experience in all stages of the budgeting and borrowing process so that clients can plan and monitor their financial health. Rather than producing "studies" which offer a static snapshot, he develops customized financial models focusing on the development of impactful financial strategies that can adapt and change as a client's situation unfolds. Jamie is proud to serve on the Boards of Openlands and the Old Town School of Folk Music. He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University and an A.B. in Computer Science from Brown University.

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