ALA to undertake IT External Review

For Immediate Release
Mon, 11/23/2015


Mary Ghikas

Senior Associate Executive Director


312 280 2518

CHICAGO — As part of its planning for the future, the American Library Association will be undertaking an external review of the Association’s information technology.

This review will be conducted by a team of external reviewers with broad technology and association perspectives, and is based on a model commonly used in higher education settings. The external reviewers will be Brian Schottlaender, Audrey Geisel University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego, and Margo Pecoulas, Director of Information Technology at the American Academy of Periodontology. Reviewers were selected based on subject knowledge and expertise, understanding of the association environment, and understanding of ALA and its organizational structure. 

As is the case with most organizations, information technology has become central to the Association’s mission of serving members, libraries and the public. Like other organizations, ALA is seeking to keep pace with rapid changes and new technologies. Unlike most organizations, ALA operates within a layered, complex, member-created and member driven organizational structure.  In addition to supporting this member community and member-generated content, ALA provides services to the broader world that include a significant website and ecommerce functions including publications and continuing education. 

Earlier this year, based on internal review of IT systems and operations, response to a member survey and an initial review of evolving information technology, the ALA Information Technology and Telecommunications office produced ALA Strategic Technology Directions Update: 2016-2017, which was endorsed by the Association’s member Website Advisory Committee.  This plan outlines new approaches to more effectively providing existing and new services.

The External Review will examine:

  • Organizational context, including structure and procedures
  • Resources, including both financial and human resources
  • Administration, management and oversight of systems
  • Adoption capacity, both in ITTS and in the larger Association
  • Security considerations (an in-depth security review was completed in August)
  • Opportunities for collective decisions and synergies that might enable the Association to achieve additional efficiencies
  • Areas where the association is doing well and areas to focus efforts at improvement.

The review process will include an internal review with a broad array of Association staff, in consultation with the Web Advisory Committee.  The internal review will be co-led by Sherri Vanyek (Director, ITTS) and Keri Cascio (Executive Director, ALCTS), and will be accomplished in October and November 2015. The external review will begin in winter 2015, with a final report and recommendations for the ALA Executive Board by spring 2016. Progress reports will be provided throughout the process. For more information, contact Mary Ghikas at