Strategic Planning - Jan 9, 2004


Strategic Planning Update    


January 9, 2004

Keith Michael Fiels
Executive Director

ALA Action 2005 outlines a number of key action areas and action goals for the Association. As implementation and evaluation of the current plan continue, the development of the Association's next strategic plan is already underway.

At their Spring 2003 meeting, the ALA Executive Board approved a general outline for a planning process that will lead to the development of the next ALA strategic plan, for the period 2006-2010. A copy of this basic framework is attached.

As we begin moving toward the planning retreat planned for the fall of 2004, activity over the last quarter has focused on a variety of data collection activities. The primary focus of these activities is to provide an opportunity for ALA members and leaders to provide input into the plan.  A number of activities designed to involve members in the process are planned for the 2004 annual conference in Orlando.


We are currently planning an American Libraries editorial by President Carla Hayden which will 'launch' our formal communications with the membership regarding the planning effort. An ALA 2010 Web site will also be created, which will organize information on the planning effort and make available information from the various studies, environmental scanning, focus groups, chapter and divisional forums, the joint meeting of divisional and executive board representatives, and other key documents. The site will also provide an opportunity for members to provide feedback and input into the plan. A series of informational updates will also provide members and site visitors with information on the planning process as it moves forward.

Gathering information from members

Joint meeting of divisional and executive board representatives

At the Fall Board meeting, a joint session of the ALA Executive Board and executive committees of the 11 divisions was held. The 50 meeting participants provided initial feedback on ALA strengths and weaknesses, external opportunities and threats, and the types of services they would like to see ALA making available over the next five years. A report on the session will be available  on the ALA 2010 Web Site.

Focus groups

Three focus groups have already been conducted at the AASL National Conference in Kansas City.  Additional focus groups will be conducted at the 2004 Midwinter Meeting and more are planned for the PLA National Conference (Seattle, February) and ALA Annual Conference in Orlando. A total of sixteen focus groups are already planned, with additional focus groups also under discussion. At the midwinter meeting and annual conference, focus groups will be conducted for librarians who are not currently members of ALA in the San Diego and Orlando areas. The focus groups at AASL and the midwinter meeting have sought to learn not only about the thoughts and ideas of active members, but also of members new to the association. Executive summaries of the focus groups will also be available  on the ALA 2010 Web Site.

Member survey

A member survey is planned for spring 2004.  Development of the survey instrument will begin following midwinter.

ALA Forums at ALA Chapters

As part of process to gather input from both members and non-members, Chapter forums have been held in eight states this fall.  More Forums in Chapters are planned for the spring.

Other activities

Plans are currently under discussion for a series of sessions for ALA councilors, to be held at the annual conference in Orland. The goal of these sessions will be to allow  full participation by ALA's elected policy making  body in shaping the plan. In addition, a number of divisions have expressed interest in holding various types of forums or other sessions designed to gather member ideas regarding the association and how it can better serve them in the future. In addition, the ALA 2010 will provide members with an opportunity to provide input into the process by sharing their ideas regarding the future direction of the association and by critiquing the plan.

Other data collection

Public opinion survey

A public opinion survey is planned for the spring. This survey, which will be conducted by a national research firm, will allow us to evaluate the impact of ALA's efforts over the last several years while allowing us to identify public perceptions which will impact our future goals and plans.

Analysis of existing plans

ALA's planning environment is particularly complex because of the large number of units within the organization. All of the divisions and most round tables, offices and committees have some form of written plan which articulates their goals and objectives for the future. Currently, ALA is conducting an outside analysis of these many plans in order to identify common threads and consistent themes. This information will be of great value as ALA's next plan is developed.  In addition, a useful tool will be developed to help in organizing, analyzing and integrating information on existing divisional and round table plans, business plans, association-wide priority plans, and office and committee plans in order to more fully integrate them into the Association's strategic planning.

Environmental Scan

Environmental scanning has become a key ingredient of most planning processes. As part of the planning process, ALA will be working to identify a number of key trends that will impact the association over the next 5-10 years. As these trends are identified, a combination of demographic research, market research and survey research will be used in an attempt to create trend data that can be used in developing the plan.

Evaluation of ALA Action 2005

During the spring and summer, a major evaluation will be conducted of the association's progress in meeting the goals of the ALA Action 2005 plan. This evaluative assessment will be critical as the association considers its next five-year plan.

Future Steps

In the fall of 2004, the active planning phase will begin. This will consist of a
a planning retreat in fall 2004 involving key stakeholders from throughout the association, discussion and consensus building at the 2005 Midwinter Meeting, review and refinement of the plan in spring 2005 -- all leading to proposed adoption of the new plan by Council at the 2005 Annual Conference.