From the Office: Planning as “Renewal”

Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director

charles wilt, alcts executive director

By now, you have all probably received information about the survey ALA is doing of its membership for the 2010 planning process. ALA is taking considerable care this time around to involve the members in defining the scope of the 2010 ALA plan. In addition to the survey, this is being accomplished through focus groups at conferences, chapter meetings, and focus groups at both the American Association of School Libraries (AASL) and the Public Library Association (PLA) national conferences. ALCTS itself has been surveying our own membership for many of the same reasons as ALA. Quite frankly and in reality, we don’t know very much about you, our members: what you think, how you work, what you expect from the association, or even whether the association is relevant to you any longer. It is a little more difficult for ALA to assess these questions, if for no other reason than the breadth of the ALA membership. ALA is not necessarily the most homogeneous association you might encounter. However, even though ALCTS reflects that diversity, we, as an association, still possess the one unifier that separates us from others: our dedication to technical services, to collections, to preservation, and to the myriad aspects of each of those areas.

Beginning with this Annual Conference in Orlando, you, the members, launch the process to renew the ALCTS Strategic Plan. I did indeed mean, “renew.” “Renew” to me has different connotations than “revise” or “rewrite.” In the course of looking at the plan, we might (or more properly, you might) choose to “revise” or “rewrite” some portions of the plan. “Renew” is affirming what is there: ideas, concepts, precepts, and tenets that define ALCTS. “Renew” is also looking at the plan critically and deciding what might need to be “revised.” “Renew” is not trashing the document, which was very carefully crafted four years ago to best reflect ALCTS then, through now. “Renew” is re-examining the elements of the document for currency. “Re-new” is, in fact, to “make new again.” For those Boomers out there, it’s like watching Bob Vila restore a house or like watching Trading Spaces, for a more current reference. It’s taking the underlying values, goals and objectives that are represented in the current plan, deciding if the foundation is solid, changing the room color possibly, or maybe replacing the cabinets (although rust and avocado seem to be making a comeback). Getting a little off track here. The planning process is an important road down which we need to travel periodically. It is important for ALCTS to “renew” itself and the planning process lets us do that.

So, where does all this planning activity lead? In the greater worldview, it defines the goals that ALCTS sets for itself for the next five years. Within those goals, as with the current plan, there are objectives from which a whole host of activities are drawn. There is a financial framework built. There are expectations for products and services for the members and the broader library community. There are plans developed for membership, publications, and continuing education. There are programs for leadership and professional development. At the “action” plan level, committees, sections, section committees, CRG committees, the office, and the Board all contribute to the Tactical Plan. If you haven’t looked at it recently, do so. It lays out what ALCTS is and does and hopes to accomplish. It tells me where I need to concentrate resources or staff or budget. It keeps ALCTS on the path outlined in the Strategic Plan. It focuses our attention to actually adding value to being an ALCTS member. It also creates an archive of our best efforts and enduring vision. Through the various planning activities, ALCTS members and leaders are constantly adding the benefit (the outcomes) to the features (products and services) of ALCTS membership.

So beginning this Annual Conference in Orlando, ALCTS looks to “renew” itself one more time. 2005 seemed a long way away in 2001. 2010 seems a long way away from now. The transition from Boomer to Gen X to Millenial to “??” will be well underway by then. The planning we do now will provide the ALCTS leaders in 2010 the foundation for ALCTS Strategic Plan 2015.

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