Feedback Wanted: Strategic Planning

July 29, 2014

ALA President Courtney L. Young
ALA President Courtney L. Young

Dear colleagues:

I wanted to share some highlights related to our strategic planning activities at Annual Conference.

The Executive Board held two working sessions related to strategic planning. At the first session, we discussed the proposed strategic planning process document that then–ALA President Barbara Stripling and I shared with you and other members in June. Our work at this session focused on our “member engagement” plan: how we will reach out to members and others to involve them as we update our strategic plan and directions over the coming year. This plan will involve face-to-face forums and discussions, as well as various virtual forums and other outreach activities.

The Board also spent time at its second meeting talking about Evaluation and Assessment. We specifically focused our discussion on the question “How we will measure our success in achieving our strategic vision and goals in the three strategic initiative areas of Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development?” We are very interested in the ways in which we can evaluate the impact of our efforts. We hope members will help us as we look at the issue of impact and that you will share your thinking with us.

We have already heard back from a number of ALA committees and other member groups that have begun looking at the strategic initiatives, how they think we can best move forward  in these areas, and how they see their work fitting into and supporting our overall plans in the three initiative areas. We have been impressed with the interest and enthusiasm of these groups and appreciate their leadership in moving ahead.

Eleven kitchen-table conversations focused on advocacy were also held at Annual Conference. For each of the sessions, participants were asked about their aspirations in the area of advocacy, what they saw as obstacles to achieving these aspirations, and how we could move forward in overcoming these obstacles and achieving our aspirations. Participants for each conversation were volunteers who responded to a general call from Barbara Stripling. Each session had a volunteer group leader and a recorder, and a brief summary from each session and the conversations as a whole will be posted on Connect in the near future.  

Work on our new advocacy plan is already moving ahead, and the chairs of the Advocacy Committee, Public Awareness Committee, Campaign Subcommittee and Committee on Legislation met at Annual Conference to discuss how we can work together to increase the impact of our advocacy work on behalf of libraries, librarians, and those we serve. A draft plan should be ready for circulation following the Midwinter Meeting in January.

A Connect strategic planning group and space is now being created to provide a focal point for:

  • Updates on our strategic planning
  • Key documents such as drafts for discussion, etc.
  • Reports from face to face and virtual forums and discussions
  • Members to share their best thinking and comments about advocacy, information policy and professional and leadership development
  • Surveys and polls

All documents in this Connect strategic planning space, as well as the discussions themselves, will be available to the public (members and nonmembers alike) at

A discussion guide is also being developed for use by groups wishing to contribute to the planning process and our specific plans in the three initiative areas. Over the coming year, we will be working with the chapters and affiliates on a series of in-person forums at the state conferences, as well as a number of virtual forums using social media.

We are also inviting all ALA committees, divisions, round tables, and Council to schedule time at their meetings during ALA Midwinter in Chicago for a discussion of the strategic initiatives and to provide us with feedback as we develop our detailed plans. With meeting time always tight, we are inviting groups that may not have face-to-face meetings or would like to hold virtual discussions to also contribute.

We plan to keep you posted on a regular basis as we move forward on our strategic planning effort. In the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions.



COURTNEY L. YOUNG is ALA president and head librarian and professor of women's studies at Pennsylvania State University, Greater Allegheny campus in McKeesport. Email: