Letters from ALCTS

charles wilt, alcts executive director

From the Office

Charles Wilt, ALCTS Executive Director

Transforming Collections: Transforming Libraries

Last month, I wrote about futuring in ALCTS and libraries and how ALCTS could foster a futuring “environment” within our association. I suggested a number of things we could do from forming an interest group to programming to publications, all focused on the future. I want to spend some time this month on one very concrete endeavor ALCTS is about to pursue based on Goal Three of the 2015 ALA Strategic Plan.

Goal area three of the ALA 2015 Strategic Plan is titled “Transforming Libraries.” I have included the goal statement and objectives here for you to read. Over these last several months, ALA has sponsored meetings to conceive strategies addressing each of these objectives. A final version of those strategies is still being written so I do not have those to share with you right now.

Goal Area: Transforming Libraries

Goal Statement: ALA provides leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services in a dynamic and increasingly global digital information environment.

  • Objective (1): Increase opportunities to share innovative practices and concepts across the profession, nationally and internationally, and among all libraries.
  • Objective (2): Increase recognition of and support for experimentation with innovative and transformational ideas.
  • Objective (3) Help libraries make use of new and emerging technologies by promoting and supporting technological experimentation and innovation.
  • Objective (4): Increase leadership development and training opportunities designed to support the ongoing transformation of libraries.

In a recent message to ALA department heads, Keith Fiels, ALA Executive Director said, “I see the new Transforming Libraries goal area as a great opportunity to highlight a lot of great work already occurring in the divisions and other units, as well as an opportunity to launch new initiatives that will help libraries of all types as they seek to better meet the needs of users in a changing world.” He has indicated on several occasions that this goal will be a priority to address including funding new initiatives and a separate branding initiative.

With such a high visibility, I suggested to ALCTS President Cynthia Whitacre and the ALCTS Executive Committee that ALCTS needs to address this goal vigorously for our areas. I also suggested creation of t a “Transforming Collections Task Force” to examine the goal, the objectives and the strategies, see how ALCTS can contribute to and influence those, canvass members about what they are already doing to “transform” collections, and to recommend future programming, publications, and actions for ALCTS. We could so far as declaring a year as “Transforming Collections” to focus our attention.

Cynthia, with input from the ALCTS Board and others, has indeed created the “Transforming Collections Task Force” chaired by Mary Beth Thomson, Associate Dean, Collections and Technical Services, University of Kentucky. We wanted a broad representation on the eleven-member task force. Members come from public libraries, research libraries, academic libraries, newer members and librarians, more experienced members and librarians, from across the country and from each of our areas of interest.

Cynthia has charged Mary Beth and the task force to consider the goal three of the ALA Plan, and bring to the Board at Annual Conference in New Orleans a report of ideas, proposed actions and proposed projects that ALCTS could pursue in advancing our participation in this goal area. With the report in hand, much work would follow and ALCTS will need you, our members, to step up and be part of the implementation. There will be many opportunities for ALCTS groups to become involved as well as individual members as we move forward with this initiative.

In a recent message, Cynthia states, “This will be a very high-profile TF within ALCTS and potentially within ALA as a whole as well. Mary Beth is very excited about leading this TF; she brings her enthusiasm, energy and excellent organizational skills to the table.” I could not agree more.

We will be creating a Transforming Collections space on the ALCTS web site in the near future to communicate this important work more broadly. We have a great opportunity to establish a significant presence in the ALA 2015 Strategic Plan with this goal. We’ll need your help and input to do so.

Look for more information about the task force as it starts it work and as we move forward with their ideas and recommendations.

Contact Charles Wilt (cwilt@ala.org).