Strategic Planning Update

August 4, 2004
Keith Michael Fiels
Executive Director

Activity continued through the Annual Conference and the month of July in preparation for the planning retreat scheduled for September 17-19, 2004.  The focus has been on developing the agenda for the retreat, reporting out the planning sessions held at Annual Conference, gathering information for the progress report on AL Action 2005, gathering environmental scanning material, and making reports and environmental scan materials available on the Ahead to 2010 website.

Focus groups

Summary reports of the completed focus groups have been posted on the AL Ahead to 2010 website.  Prior to the Annual Conference, Marketing General, Inc. (MGI) conducted focus groups at the 2003 AASL National Conference in Kansas City, the 2004 ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego, and the 2004 PLA National Conference in Seattle. 

Six additional focus groups were held at the Annual Conference in Orlando.  Reports of these last focus groups sessions will be posted on the web site within the next week or two.

Membership Forums-Chapters and Student Chapters

Reports of membership forums continue to be added to the planning website.  There are currently two forum reports from ALA Committees, 20 reports from chapters, 4 reports from student chapters, and 1 report from an affiliated group.  One more chapter forum will be completed prior to the planning retreat in September.

The following additional Forums are planned in Chapters through the fall: 

Idaho                       Keith Michael Fiels
Ohio                        Keith Michael Fiels
Pennsylvania             Keith Michael Fiels
Texas                       Carol Brey-Casiano

Additional Student Chapter Forums are also tentatively planned:

Pittsburgh                Carla Hayden
Dominican                Kathleen Bethel
University of Iowa     Susan Craig (Chapter Councilor)
Catholic University     Nancy Davenport
Member Survey

The web-based member survey period ended on July 4, 2004.  Between May 20 and July 4, nearly 14,000 ALA members logged on to the Ahead to 2010 web site and took the survey.  A summary of the survey results will be available prior to the fall planning retreat, and plans are underway to publish the findings in a fall issue of American Libraries.

Planning Activities at the Annual Conference

A number of activities at the 2004 Annual Conference in Orlando gave members and member leaders an opportunity to contribute to the strategic planning process: 

Leadership Sessions

A planning discussion for ALA Councilors was held as part of the ALA Executive Board/Council/Membership Information Session on Sunday, June 27, 8:30 - 10:20 a.m.   The goal of this session was to allow ALA's elected policy-making body to help shape the plan at its earliest stage. The session involved Councilors and Executive Board members in identifying key external factors, developing a vision of a successful ALA and identifying "mega" issues for libraries, the profession and the Association.

Another planning discussion was held at the Membership II Meeting on Monday, June 28.  This session involved members in identifying key factors in the future environment and identifying "mega" issues.

Paul Meyer of Tecker Consultants, LLC, facilitated both planning discussions.  Reports of the sessions are being prepared for posting on the planning website in the near future.

The Planning and Budget Assembly met on Friday, June 25, 2:00 - 3:30 pm.  The attendees divided into groups that were asked to identify the most valuable services and benefits that ALA is providing or should be providing for members, for libraries, and for the public.  Each group also conducted a SWOT exercise to identify the organization's (S)trengths, (W)eaknesses, (O)pportunities, and (T)hreats.  The report of the outcomes of these exercises will also be posted on the planning website soon.

Divisional and Unit Planning Activities

Planning activities were held at the Annual Conference by two Divisions and one Round Table.  Reports are being finalized for planning sessions held by the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), and the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table (LSSIRT).  The report from LSSIRT has been posted to the planning website.   

Other Data Collection Activities

Telephone Interviews

Consultant Paul Meyer of Tecker Consultants, LLC, will be conducting telephone interviews over the next month.  Individuals interviewed will represent the following groups:

  • Non ALA members who are members of state associations
  • Non MLS, non ALA members who are not members of state associations
  • Paraprofessionals, some ALA members, some non members
  • New members of ALA who have joined within the last six months
  • Most recent new members who dropped membership after just a few years

Threaded Discussion Groups

Paul Meyer will also be working with threaded discussion groups.  These discussions are similar to "chat room" sessions, but the discussion does not need to be conducted simultaneously among the participants.  The consultant will suggest questions to help generate a productive discussion and generate useful information for the planning process.  Individuals participating in the threaded discussions will include ALA Committee Chairs, Chapter Presidents, Caucus leadership, and affiliate leaders.

International Relations Survey

The International Relations Office conducted an international members survey.  An email was sent to all international members with a link to a survey website.  The survey had 258 respondents from 55 countries.  A report is being prepared to summarize the responses and will be posted to the planning website.  

Environmental Scanning

The planning website now includes an area for links to environmental scanning material.  Staff and members have been invited to recommend material that will be helpful background for putting the planning process in the context of external factors and trends-societal, political, technological, demographic or other-that are most likely to affect the environment for libraries, librarians and the association over the next decade. 

Permission has been secured to create links on the website to the OCLC report, The 2003 OCLC Environmental Scan: Pattern Recognition and to the American Society of Association Executives' executive summary of the report From Plan to Scan.  Other material and website links are being added on a daily basis.

AL Action 2005

Work is currently underway on a report that will outline progress in meeting the goals in the AL Action 2005 plan.  Information for this report is being gathered from all units of the organization.  This progress report will be available in early September.

Fall Planning Workshop

A preliminary agenda has been developed for the Fall Planning Retreat. The retreat will be a two-day event, covering all of Saturday, September 18 and most of Sunday, September 19.  An informal opportunity for participants to meet each other has also been scheduled for Friday evening, September 17.

Paul Meyer of Tecker Consultants, LLC will facilitate the sessions.  The opening morning sessions of September 18 will feature presentations on background data collected as part of the planning process.  Topics will include the forums, focus groups, external environmental scan data, division and other plans, membership survey, and various leadership sessions.  Each group will make a short presentation, as well as presenting its conclusions, based on analysis prior to the retreat, about the significance and overall meaning to the particular data.  These presentation sessions will provide participants with a common basis for creating the draft plan.

The draft document based on the planning retreat will then be circulated to the membership for discussion in fall of 2004. Discussion and consensus building will be a major focus of the 2005 Midwinter Meeting, with further review and refinement of the plan in spring 2005. This process of member discussion and refinement should allow for discussion and ultimate adoption of the new AL Ahead to 2010 plan by Council at the 2005 Annual Conference. This will allow the priorities to be included in the ALA FY 2006 budget so that important projects can move ahead as quickly as possible.