ALSC Strategic Plan

In February 2017, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) adopted a new three-year strategic plan for 2017-2020. Thank you to everyone who participated in our in-person and online focus groups, as well as those who contacted us during this process.

To follow progress of the plan's implementation, see the Strategic Plan implementation progress reports

Overview of the Planning Process

In March 2016, the Executive Committee met with organizational consultant Kathryn Deiss to begin pre-planning work, establish a timeline, and develop understanding around language and structure with the objective of making this an understandable and accessible plan. The plan is our framework to direct how ALSC will invest its valuable and limited resources in meeting the future needs of its members and influencing the evolution of the profession.

During the 2016 Annual Conference ALSC held two focus groups for youth services librarians and advocates to discuss ALSC’s envisioned future and areas of opportunity; ALSC’s Emerging Leader Project team developed  and presented a comprehensive environmental scan; and the ALSC Board of Directors held a pre-planning session to identify and agree upon ALSC’s strengths and assets, consider possible areas of strategic opportunity, share our own aspirations for the future, and discuss areas of strategic importance during the next three years.

Additional member feedback was solicited through two online focus groups held on July 28 and October 31, 2016.  The December 2016 Community Forum also provided members an opportunity to consider any other additional areas to focus on, particularly in a post-election environment.

The full board met again on October 21, 2016, for a full-day of planning.  In advance of the meeting, and along the way, the Board considered the insightful and excellent feedback that we received from ALSC members. After the October meeting, a small sub-group of the Board worked to fine-tune the goals that were presented to members during the 2017 Midwinter Meeting. During the Leadership & ALSC meeting at Midwinter, attendees helped brainstorm the actionable objectives, which were further crafted by the Board of Directors at their Saturday meeting. Following Midwinter, a new board sub-group worked on refining the objectives, for full Board review and adoption online in February 2017.

Themes that Emerged through Discussion

The following is a summary of the major themes we heard through our member input process, and which have shaped our vision statement and strategic directives.

  • The importance of diversity and inclusion within our organization and our profession, including the need for supporting members to serve our communities with cultural competence; and about the crucial role that library service to children serves in our democracy.
  • There are professional challenges in responding to change, demands to serve families in the role of media mentors and early learning experts, and the need for more research and proactive advocacy.
  • Supporting our roles as experts can be challenging when that expertise is represented at paraprofessional and professional levels.  Support the breadth of roles, and types, sizes and settings of libraries that serve children, and advocate for all.
  • Look inward at the health of our organization to identify our strengths and areas for growth. 

The 2017-2020 Strategic Plan

The final 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, approved on February 24, 2017, includes the following:

ALSC Vision Statement icon

Updated vision statement: Members of the Association for Library Service to Children engage communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children.


ALSC Core Values Icon
Affirmation of ALSC’s core values:


  • Collaboration
  • Excellence
  • Inclusiveness
  • Innovation
  • Integrity and Respect
  • Leadership
  • Responsiveness

Strategic Directions Icon
Focused strategic directions and areas of strategic action that identify where the association will direct its energy and resources over the next three years:

Spheres of Transformation Spheres of Transformation graphic

  • Transforming ALSC

Members have clear, welcoming pathways to contribute to the work of the organization.

  • Transforming Children’s Librarianship

ALSC empowers the profession to be nimble and embrace change as children’s needs evolve.

  • Transforming Communities through Libraries

ALSC and libraries are essential partners in a comprehensive system of care for children.

Areas of Strategic Action

  • Diversity & Inclusion

    ALSC will become more diverse and inclusive, acting to promote these values in all aspects of library service to children.

  • Advocacy

    ALSC will champion the value of library service to children and the resources necessary to deliver on our vision.

  • Learning & Development

    ALSC will actively develop new generations of leaders.

Strategic Objectives iconA set of objectives in each area of strategic action, delineated by sphere of transformation. 

Diversity & Inclusion

ALSC will become more diverse and inclusive, acting to promote these values in all aspects of library service to children.

  1. Increase diversity in ALSC membership and reduce barriers to participation as measured against the Diversity in ALSC baseline survey by September 2019. Transforming ALSC
  2. Expand opportunities for existing members from underrepresented experiences to serve in ALSC activities, as measured by longitudinal studies and/or focus groups, by September 2020. Transforming ALSC
  3. Increase the cultural competency of library staff serving youth by developing an accessible online cultural competency training series by September 2018. Transforming Children’s Librarianship


ALSC will champion the value of library service to children and the resources necessary to deliver on our vision.

  1. Establish an accessible content stream of valuation tools and research updates, including customizable content for members, by September 2018. Transforming ALSC
  2. Articulate a prioritized research agenda, including but not limited to summer learning/out- of-school time, by September 2018, and pursue avenues for conducting and/or supporting the research by September 2020.  Transforming Children’s Librarianship
  3. Amplify librarians’ essential role as information literacy experts through advocacy outputs, including communications, webinars, and establishing collaborations, by September 2018. Transforming Communities through Libraries
  4. Increase targeted messaging to the wider library profession and the public about the expertise of ALSC and our members to demonstrate the purpose and value of strong and meaningful children’s librarianship by September 2019. Transforming Communities through Libraries

Learning & Development

ALSC will actively develop new generations of leaders.

  1. Build a discernible pathway, along with opportunities for training and mentorship, to develop ALSC members as leaders in their libraries, the profession, and/or the association by September 2020. Transforming ALSC
  2. Provide at least two educational opportunities in media mentorship and child development, ideally developed and/or presented with collaborative partners from other ALA units, by September 2018. Transforming Children’s Librarianship
  3. Organize and promote ALSC activities to position the core competencies as central to library service to children, by September 2018. Transforming Children’s Librarianship
  4. Develop a toolkit of research-based best practices for out-of-school time learning and disseminate the toolkit and practices to members by September 2019. Transforming Communities through Libraries

While all of ALSC’s many activities serve its vision, a strategic plan never details all of them; rather, it affirms a direction for focussed energy and growth. Strategic thinking and planning is an ongoing process within the organization. This is not a “strategic planning project” that is completed. Progress toward achieving the plan’s goals and objectives will be assessed annually and the plan will be updated based on achievement and changes in the needs of the stakeholders served. 

Thank you for your contributions in articulation this plan.  We look forward to working together to maximize ALSC’s impact over the next several years. 

ALSC Strategic Plan 2017-2020 [Two-page PDF, 464.1 KB]

Survey Results: Diversity within the Children's Library Services Profession [Two-page PDF, 540 KB]