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Mary Ghikas's picture

Strategic Framework and Enabling Strategies: A Message from ALA President Barbara Stripling

February 17, 2014


Dear Colleagues,


On behalf of the ALA Executive Board, I would like to share with you our plans to move the “re-imagining ALA” conversations forward into strategic action.  As you know, ALA has been engaged in community conversations with our members over the past couple of years.  We realize that any changes we make to our organization must be based on very careful assessment of member needs and wishes, because, although we serve three constituencies (members, libraries, and the public), we must primarily be responsive to members.


We started with large conversation sessions at our conferences, but broadened and deepened the dialogue to include insights from division and round table leadership, Council, focus groups, and a membership survey.  The Executive Board and ALA staff accepted the challenge to analyze and synthesize these comprehensive conversations in order to develop a strategic framework that will guide our Association as we re-conceptualize our focus, structure, operations, and culture.


The accompanying document outlines three strategic initiatives that reflect the conversations and deliberations of our members and member leaders.  In addition, the Executive Board has designated a set of enabling strategies for ALA to undertake to create a “welcoming, inclusive, engaged and supportive organization” that is focused on these three strategic initiatives.


The Executive Board invites your feedback on our thinking thus far.  This is the first step in a transparent but action-oriented process to bring our aspirations as information professionals and ALA members to life through our professional association.  Your engagement throughout the process will enable us to build on the best ideas and make high-impact changes. Please engage with us in creating an ALA community that supports our important mission: to enhance learning and ensure equitable access to information for all.



Barbara Stripling

ALA President, 2013-2014


 NOTE:  The entire document is attached and also posted below.  For ease in commenting -- and your comments are definitely encouraged -- it is reposted segment-by-segment:

   Advocacy:  connect.ala.org/node/218696

   Information Policy:  connect.ala.org/node/218695

   Professional and Leadership Development:  connect.ala.org/node/218693

   Enabling Strategies:  connect.ala.org/node/218691




American Library Association


Strategic Framework


“…to ensure equitable access to information for all.”

~ ALA mission statement


ALA will focus on three strategic initiatives:


  • Advocacy

ALA shall advocate the public value of librarians, libraries and information services and seek to:

  • Focus ALA’s mission and priorities working with the three constituencies:

      * ALA members;

      * libraries; and

      * the public.

  • Represent libraries and information providers at the local, state, federal and international levels while building support for libraries and librarians through public awareness.
  • Assure legislation and policies that support information and library services in all types of libraries and information environments.
  • Provide a vision of innovation, enable the future of libraries and promote libraries as centers of community engagement and participatory librarianship.
  • Promote ALA’s core values and emphasize the impact of libraries, as represented by ALA’s Declaration for the Right to Libraries, to form the basis for advocacy and community conversations.


  • Information policy

Information policy is comprised of laws, regulations and doctrines, and other decision making and practices, involving information creation, storage, equitable access, communication, accessibility, dissemination, use and preservation.
            The American Library Association (ALA), operating in the public interest, focuses at every level on a diverse set of policy areas that includes:  intellectual freedom, privacy, civil liberties, telecommunications, funding for education and research programs, funding for libraries, copyright and licensing, government information, and literacy.

            Operating on behalf of the public, ALA seeks through libraries to:

  • Serve as a knowledgeable resource on policy issues for ALA members and the public at large.
  • Lead the advocacy for legislation, regulation, and policies for the public interest.
  • Educate library staffs and the public on public policy matters.
  • Document the impact of legislation, regulation, and policies on the work of libraries and public access to information.
  • Promote coalitions to advance policy positions in advancing ALA’s agenda and mission.
  • Enable successful models of information access that support the ALA policy agenda.
  • Advocate for effective policies that enable libraries to meet the information needs of all sectors of the public.


  • Professional and Leadership Development

Recognizing that the professional and leadership development of librarians and library workers is essential to high-quality professional practice and the future of libraries and information services, ALA seeks to:

  • Provide professional development opportunities through multiple venues.
  • Maintain strong accreditation standards and processes for library and information science programs.
  • Foster certification programs through the ALA/APA.
  • Coordinate the multiple opportunities available throughout ALA to provide a coherent, transparent, and accessible continuing education framework for all members.
  • Increase the diversity of library professionals and sustain their professional growth through multiple strategies.
  • Provide leadership development opportunities and create new pathways for member leadership in the association.
  • Align leadership development and continuing education with best thinking about the changing information environment and ALA’s Center for the Future of Libraries.


Enabling Strategies:


  • Create an assessment and evaluation process to measure the effect of the strategic initiatives.
  • Review governance structure (including committees and round tables) to identify changes to address the strategic initiatives.
  • Review staff structure and compensation to ensure focus on strategic initiatives.
  • Build a more robust public communication and public relations/marketing capacity.
  • Identify revenue streams and fundraising opportunities to support the strategic initiatives.
  • Engage division leaders and staff to define their role and contribution to the strategic initiatives.
  • Build a sustainable technological infrastructure that enables ALA to advance the strategic initiatives.
  • Align ALA publishing and conferences to support the strategic initiatives.
  • Strengthen pathways for member involvement/engagement in strategic initiatives.
Strategic Initiatives Final.docx26.82 KB
Barbara Ford's picture

On intial review, this looks like a good document that prioritizes what ALA does and should do and proposes strategies for moving forward together as a large diverse association. 

Rory Litwin's picture

One of the important functions of a professional association is usually to set standards for the professional field. There are a lot of important standards documents that library administrators can refer to to justify budgeting decisions and guide planning. I can think of a number that ACRL has online, but other divisions may also have them. I am wondering where this standard-setting role fits into this framework.

Robert Banks's picture


I agree that is an important function. I was seeing that role occurring in the "Information Policy" section, but it could also have a place in the "Professional and Leadership Development" although not specifically addressed in either. Does that make sense to you or do you see a better place?

Fortunately, we have a lot of great work already done on this, as you referenced ACRL, etc.; so in some respects it is finding it a home in a place that makes sense to all of us.


Rob Banks, Executive Board

Michael McCulley (non-member)'s picture

Good start on advocacy.

Over my 30 years in the field, I've seen a lot of activity, debate, time, etc. used by national library organizations on various international, national, state, or local issues that are not directly about the members, libraries, library science, our work environments, etc. Not just by ALA, but by SLA and others, too.

I get it; we're activists, we "care," we want good change, we want to save the whales, protect the environment, and so on. So many issues, so little time. There are thousands of organizations whose mission is to be active and involved in major social and societal issues, and I imagine many librarians are active in those organizations. And that's great.

I'd like to see ALA realize it's a "library membership" organization, and first and foremost, it should help its membership in their work, and profession. ALA's stands (resolutions) and involvement in major social and societal issues limits the time members and the staff can spend on the membership as a whole. I think seeing this advocacy statement is a good step in the right direction.

The "Information Policy" statement seems too nebulous and too far-afield of our core mission to serve and help librarian members in their profession, and I wonder how much time we will spend on that versus serving the members more directly. Just food for thought...

Speaking only for himself,

Michael aka DrWeb | San Diego Public Library / San Diego, CA drweb2@gmail.com

Robert Banks's picture


I appreciate your good comments. 

Your approach to Advocacy in this context is what I was seeing in this document.

It would help me if you could think about the "Information Policy" and give me some ideas about how to make that aspect more concrete and relevant to members. 

This is exactly the kind of discussion the board hoped would occur. Thank you for your ideas.

Rob Banks, Executive Board

Carolyn Caywood's picture

I believe the most effective advocacy occurs in each library's community, so I see a crossover from leadership development to advocacy.  All politics is local and libraries need to be embedded in their communities.  This is where the partnership with Harwood will help. 

Carolyn Caywood, MSLS, retired from Bayside & Special Services Library, 757-499-9131 cacaywood@cox.net  

Courtney Young's picture

Thanks Carolyn for that perspective. The way you articulated the connection of the pieces and the opportunity with Harwood is useful to me.

Jennifer Lautzenheiser's picture

As a new professional, just becoming active in ALA, I am thrilled to see an effort that is organized, methodical, and measurable. Definitely steps to success! With so many libraries focusing on building their community, this is a perfect time to build upon the backs of that local hard work. 

Lesliediana Jones's picture

As this is an old document (2014) that was pushed this morning (2018), I wonder if this is an error.  Was there supposed to have been an updated document?