1.0 Executive Summary

1.1 Objectives of Plan

The plan is intended as a guide: to help take the message of ALCTS to members of the library community who create, collect, organize, and preserve all types of information; to continue to evaluate ALCTS’ present products and services to meet a changing library and information landscape; and to provide a framework from which current and future ALCTS members can draw in developing member related activities.

1.2 Mission

ALCTS’ mission statement is appropriate to state here. Although not specifically aimed for a membership business plan document, it does outline ALCTS in a very succinct way.

“ALCTS provides leadership to the library and information communities in developing principles, standards, and best practices for creating, collecting, organizing, delivering, and preserving information resources in all forms. It provides this leadership through its members by fostering educational, research, and professional service opportunities. ALCTS is committed to quality information, universal access, collaboration, and life-long learning.”

1.3 Keys to Success

The keys to success for ALCTS are:

  • attracting and maintaining the traditional ALCTS member, librarians working in ALCTS areas;
  • identifying a pool of potential members including but not limited to library support staff, those working in non-traditional information positions, students, and vendors, then attracting them to ALCTS;
  • providing high quality products and services, not only those that ALCTS has traditionally provided, but also new ones to meet a changing membership;
  • strengthening and then emphasizing the role of ALCTS in continuing education for both members and the library community at large;
  • “branding” ALCTS as THE authority in the fields of technical services, including cataloging and classification, acquisitions, collection management and development, serials, and preservation and reformatting;
  • maintaining a high visibility in the development of standards, policies, and procedures in technical services and related fields for the library community, nationally and internationally;
  • ALA support and advocacy in areas represented by ALCTS;
  • Cooperating with other ALA units and other national and international library groups on common interests and endeavors.

2.0 Products, Services and Member Benefits

ALCTS focuses on six areas: standards, best practices, publications, continuing education, professional development, and information exchange. Within these six areas, ALCTS offers products and services for librarians throughout their careers.

2.1 Product and Service Description

  • Standards: ALCTS develops, evaluates, revises, and promotes standards. Such standards are vital to the organization of information, such as metadata standards, AACR2 cataloging revisions, and library binding. Through its own committee structure and liaison work with outside organizations, ALCTS members have a significant impact on this work.
  • Best Practices: ALCTS speaks as the authority on many vital issues confronting libraries today. Because of their expertise, ALCTS members provide input to national bodies such as ALA on practices and programs relating to technical services. One recent example was the Poor People’s Subject Heading document prepared by an ALCTS committee for the ALA Council. Most of its recommendations were subsequently adopted by the Library of Congress.
  • Publications: ALCTS publishes outright or has significant input into many of the crucial publications in technical services including AACR2 cataloging rules, Library of Congress subject headings, the North American Title Count, and numerous guides.
  • Continuing Education: ALCTS continues to offer substantial and high quality conference programming including outstanding preconferences such as the metatdata preconference held in 2000 in Chicago. Over 400 people attended. ALCTS also offers between 12-15 programs on a variety of topics at each Annual Conference. A new initiative to restructure ALCTS’ continuing education programs began in 2001 to broaden the scope of ALCTS’ offerings. In addition to its highly successful institute program, ALCTS has begun to develop a series of one-day basic workshops on timely topics meant to address a changing work environment in which library staff have taken on responsibilities beyond their original job description. ALCTS also has piloted a web-based fundamentals of acquisitions course being developed in concert with faculty and staff at the Ohio State University. Other web-based courses will be developed over the coming years.
  • Professional Development: ALCTS offers a member great opportunities to further his/her knowledge and professional career. Besides serving on committees, there are opportunities to work with outside groups and organizations in developing important policies for the library community. ALCTS members represents the whole library community on a number of important projects, including the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR2, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, the National Task Force on Disaster Response, and NISO.
  • Information Exchange: ALCTS provides a wide range of forums for the exchange of information among members and non-members. Central to this are the more than 40 topical discussion groups who meet twice a year at the Midwinter Meeting and the Annual Conference. These groups address some important issue facing the library community at each session. There are also numerous electronic discussion lists available for subscription.

2.2 Competitive Comparison

The competition in the area of technical services, collection management, and preservation is extensive. This competition extends to nearly every area of ALCTS activity, and our members are active in multiple venues. Frequently they pursue an issue, rather than an activity within a given organization, suggesting loyalty is to the subject, not the organization. However, ALCTS retains members, particularly catalogers, even after retirement.

The two most prominent product and service competitive areas are publications and continuing education. Although ALCTS is known for the quality of its publications, many library publishers market materials in ALCTS areas. With ALA Edition’s current policies, it has become difficult for our committees to see their products into print through ALCTS and ALA. Without that implicit recognition of their work, members will be more inclined to be active in competing organizations. In addition, ALCTS publications have been valuable guides and “how-to” manuals. The commercial market would quickly fill this niche if ALCTS would not produce these works.

In terms of continuing education, many organizations are involved. This is especially true for cataloging training. OCLC, the OCLC Regional Networks, state library associations, library schools, and other organizations and associations (ARL, NASIG, the Charleston Conference, MLA, and SLA) offer a variety of courses and other options for continuing education. The advantage that ALCTS has is its national scope. Few of the other groups offer their courses on a national basis. Most are offered regionally or locally.

Another area in which there is considerable competition for CE is in the field of preservation. OCLC Regional Networks and the Northeast Documentation Center are two of organizations offering extensive CE in preservation. However, since preservation is not only a library concern, many non-library organizations offer preservation CE. Some are applicable to libraries, some not.

2.3 Technology

ALCTS must continue to move to a position in a web-based environment. Instant accessibility to policies, procedures, and documents is a priority. The provision of member services via the web is crucial to attracting and maintaining members. ALCTS has made substantial progress in moving to a web-based environment with a re-design of the web site, interactive forms, web-based continuing education, and several web-based publications. Also crucial is the dissemination of understanding and use of technology as a transformative function in all of ALCTS areas and to provide leadership in re-envisioning information services through the creative application of technology.

2.4 Future Products and Services

More widely distributed and accessible products and services will be the emphasis in the future, particularly web-based. Building on its already successful Institute program, basic workshops will be developed to address the continuing need for information among ALCTS target member audiences. These will be available on a contract, placement, or in-house training basis. Timely Institutes will be made available at more frequent intervals in a variety of locations. A series of short informational papers and guidelines on a variety of topics will be made accessible via the web and through print. Also by redefining the “traditional” ALCTS bibliographic control function to encompass “knowledge management” through the leveraging of ALCTS expertise with thesaurus development, item description, and classification systems, a whole new market is created.

2.5 Roles of Other ALA Units

ALCTS has developed a partnership with RUSA and SSIRT to implement a Library Support Staff Membership Outreach Plan. ALCTS is sensitive to common interest areas with other divisions. It has several joint discussion groups with LITA and MARBI is a joint venture with LITA and RUSA, which often results in co-sponsored programs. Other ventures such as this could easily be developed as common goals are identified through this process.

ALCTS functional areas, so crucial to libraries, have not had significant support from ALA as an association in terms of priority areas. The changing nature of information provision and access makes ALCTS role even more important. This role should be recognized.

3.0 Market Analysis Summary

3.1 Market Segmentation

ALCTS has a clearly defined market , assuming, any library staff member who works in the technical services, collection management, serials, or preservation areas would benefit from an ALCTS membership. However, the number of professional librarians in this market is slowly decreasing as many positions in libraries previously held by librarians are now being filled by non-librarians.

3.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

3.2.1 Market Needs

Acquiring basic and higher level skills or updating skills and information on developments in the organization of information is the important need for library staff in ALCTS areas.

This translates into identifying products and services that meet those needs and that would help this group improve in their job-related activities. This means continuing education in some format whether it is a workshop, a course, a program, or a preconference. It also means high quality and timely informational publications, best practices, and access to information resources in print or via the web.

3.2.2 Market Trends

Technical services areas including cataloging, acquisitions, collection management, serials, and preservation are increasingly being staffed by non-librarians, many of who are professionals in different fields. Examples of this trend are evident in preservation where staff includes archivists and conservationists and in many libraries where heads of departments under the technical services umbrella are non-librarians. This can be seen in acquisitions, copy cataloging, serials, gift processing, and technology-based positions.

Fewer new library school graduates self-identify themselves as interested in technical services positions. An effort to “sell” technical services as a career path can not be seen in isolation from membership in ALCTS.

ALCTS members move with some fluidity in and out of the for-profit library supplier market, for example, to companies providing outsourced cataloging or to utilities and back. Many vendor and publisher employees serve on ALCTS committees.

3.2.3 Market Growth.

Market growth then is based on targeting the following areas:

  • retaining mid- and late-career and baby boomer ALCTS members, particularly when members move into others areas of responsibility such as administration and management;
  • seeking new members from the growing ranks of the non-librarian, the information professional in non-traditional settings, and the librarian in ALCTS areas not now a member;
  • working with new graduates and students to illustrate the benefits of careers in technical services, collection management, and preservation and hence how membership in ALCTS can further their career, enhance their job, and help them build a portfolio of skills;
  • identifying those people working in non-library settings having the same or similar needs for the products and services ALCTS can offer;
  • expanding the interest of vendors in membership.

The following five areas represent potential membership markets:

  • Librarians working in traditionally ALCTS areas and are not now members;
  • Librarians who have moved into positions in which they cross over into ALCTS areas;
  • Non-librarians, many of whom consider themselves professionals;
  • New library school graduates and students many of who do not select technical services as a career path;
  • People who work in non-traditional information settings. The corporate or institutional knowledge manager is an example of a potential member ALCTS should consider;
  • Vendors with products and services of primary interest in ALCTS areas.

3.3 Industry Analysis

Skills represented in the ALCTS membership are highly transferable to many other industry segments. The collection, organization, and preservation of information is a high priority in the “information age.” This can be seen in the rise in positions such as chief information officer, knowledge manager, information manager, etc. These positions rise out of the need for companies and organizations to better deal with the vast amounts of information produced by and available to them. Organizations that are primarily technology-based continue to be established and to grow. An example of this is web-based online learning, an industry that did not exist a few years ago.

Other associations have established a presence in ALCTS areas, however, they tend to cater to a specific market and do not reach out to the entire library community. Examples include the Medical Library Association for medical librarians and the Special Libraries Association for primarily corporate or special academic libraries.

3.3.1 Industry Participants

Participants include practically anyone in the business of collecting, organizing, and preserving information in whatever form. It also includes those organizations that provide support, products, services, and training in these areas. These include vendors, other professional and educational non-profits, consortia, networks, and corporations outside the library community.

3.3.2 Distribution Patterns

Services are delivered through a variety of outlets including ALA conferences, ALCTS-sponsored continuing education and via the web. Publications are distributed in paper and via the web.

3.3.3 Competition and Buying Patterns

The competition providing continuing education offers opportunities in more venues, more frequently, and often at a lower cost. At the ALA Annual Conference, vendor user groups regularly compete with ALCTS programming. There are also several regular conferences that vie for ALCTS members’ time and dollars, such as the Charleston Conference on Acquisitions. Members view these conferences as important subject resources.

Although the dues structure for ALCTS is comparable within ALA, outside of ALA many competing associations offer dues packages, which encourage participation in their divisions or sections.

3.3.4 Main Competitors

ALCTS as a functional division is not always the primary division of membership.

Within ALA: Type-of-library divisions such as ACRL and PLA
Other functional divisions such as LAMA and LITA.

As stated before, ALCTS members and potential members often are active in multiple venues as they relate to the member’s interest.

Outside ALA: ARL; NASIG; Other library associations such as Med. LA, ARLIS/NA, SLA; State library associations, especially for the library support staff target market; Vendor user groups; Society of American Archivists (SAA); Other preservation groups; Regional, state, and local consortia and networks

4.0 Strategy and Implementation Summary

4.1 Value Proposition

A membership in ALCTS means access to colleagues, continuing education at a discounted rate, publications, and the opportunity to shape library policy and procedures. ALCTS does this on a national scale and across those areas of interest to technical services, collection management, and preservation library staff. Although ALCTS represents five distinct areas of librarianship, it is a broad based collaborative that seeks input from all sections, type of library, level of expertise, and length of service. There are many opportunities to become involved at many different levels of service. Many ALCTS members belong to more than one of the sections enhancing their experience and skills. No other association or organization offers programs or services on a national scale or is seen as THE expert in technical services areas.

4.2 Competitive Edge

ALCTS major advantage is that it is a national association. This is particularly important in offering continuing education. ALCTS is also not a single issue or topic association. Its breadth of interest and concern is aptly stated in its mission. ALCTS has been a leader in electronic dissemination of information. Its popular AN2 has been widely copied and is viewed as a key outlet for technical services news. The Council of Regional Groups, a consortium of state and regionally library groups interested in ALCTS areas, maintains ALCTS’ reach at the local level by offering partnerships and collaborations with state and regional groups. It also represents those groups on ALCTS committees and the Board of Directors and actively maintains a speakers bureau.

4.3 Marketing Strategy

4.3.1 Positioning Statements

As has been stated, the increased need for the expertise represented by ALCTS members is a substantial positioning prospect. What is needed is recognition of this expertise and the benefits that an ALCTS membership can provide to a potential member, as indicated in the six areas previously mentioned. ALCTS position in any marketing strategy is to emphasize this expertise and the opportunities available to members to prosper from it. ALCTS in another word is the “expert” association in these areas. Any person who wishes to excel in ALCTS areas would definitely benefit from membership.

4.3.2 Pricing Strategy

ALCTS has a single priced personal membership rate of $45. This is within the range of dues other ALA divisions charge. The student dues for ALCTS are also in line with other divisions. There is an option that is available that ALCTS does not now have: a reduced price for new members of the division. This would follow the ALA model plus other divisions.

A new ALA dues pricing model has been proposed combining three memberships into one price. This is being tested on an ALCTS target market, library support staff.

No comparable dues structure exists in a quick search of other library associations.

4.3.3 Promotion Strategy

Once ALCTS position is strongly enunciated (the Strategic Plan does this), that message should be contained in all ALCTS communications. It is a “branding” strategy. ALCTS is identified with specific positives. Along with this the message should be that without ALCTS membership, a potential member is missing a segment of their professional development.

4.3.4 Distribution Strategy

The strategy here would rely on traditional outlets. In addition, an increased web presence and more emphasis on electronic communication would enhance the reach.

4.3.5 Marketing Programs

The Library Support Staff Membership Outreach Plan defines a new approach to marketing to a potential audience. This is a benefits oriented approach, which suggests to the potential member the advantages of membership and what membership would bring to the person’s job. This approach can be carried through to other segments of the potential market.

4.4 Recruitment Strategy

4.4.1 Forecast

The forecast for recruitment is good. There is a sufficient potential audience in libraries to provide growth in ALCTS.

4.4.2 Programs

Programs would have to be tailored to each of the target membership recruitment groups for each group has varied wants and needs.

4.5 Strategic Alliances

Divisions with complimentary goals or a type-of-library division working with a functional division are examples. The RUSA, ALCTS, and SSIRT partnership is an alliance which targets a potential membership pool for each. Outside organizations such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, the OCLC Regional Networks, and a variety of vendors could be approached about specific programs and projects of mutual interest.

4.6 Milestones

5.0Management Summary

5.1 Organizational Structure

ALCTS has positively positioned itself organizationally to move forward on this plan. The Membership Committee is actively seeking new outlets for its promotional and marketing projects. The ALCTS Board has supported funding for the Library Support Staff plan for its initial year, and funding is in the proposed FY2002 budget for the second year. Through its sections and their committees, ALCTS has a solid support structure for its products and services.

5.2 Management Team

After an initial period of adjustment from the dissolution of its partnership with LAMA, ALCTS should have in place appropriate staff resources to pursue this plan.

5.3 Management Team Gaps

Again, with the split of LAMA and ALCTS, some previously held expertise would have to be replaced and staff responsibilities reconfigured. This is a temporary situation, which will be resolved in time.
Marketing General could be used to help structure a marketing program. Several ALA units could be called upon to provide necessary support services such as web design, publication production help, and publicity support. ALCTS anticipates that the knowledge management function within ALA will help define some of the information gaps that might exist and provide assistance in resolving those gaps.

6.0 Financial Plan

6.1 Important Assumptions

The key assumption here is that ALCTS would have the right products and services in place to attract and retain new members. New initiatives to do this would have to be funded by the ALCTS Board. As the new initiatives begin to produce revenue, they would become self-sustaining. Each year, the budget should reflect a member initiative and be funded at an appropriate level. ALCTS must also be willing and able to move beyond ALA when it is financially or operationally beneficial to do so. This is particular the case in producing new publications that don’t fit the new ALA Editions requirements.

6.2 Key Financial Indicators

Tracking this plan is vital to assessing its successes or failures. Increased dues revenue, particularly in the new member category, is the most obvious indicator of this. However, tracking the increase in revenues for related products and services such as CE and publications also serve as an indicator. An additional indicator is membership renewals. It is not only important to attract new members but also retain them as members. Renewals would be monitored and reported. The need for accurate, reliable, and timely reporting of membership statistics for tracking membership is extremely important for the success of this or any membership business plan.

ALCTS Membership Business Plan: 2002-2005 (02-26-01)