ALA’s New Strategic Plan – Seriously?


Apparently so.

Yesterday a colleague commented “ALA is including some 21st Century ideas in the new strategic plan.” My reply was DON’T WE WISH!!

In case you haven’t read ALA’s new Strategic Plan 2011-2015, here it is for your reading disappointment. Obviously, I have some thoughts on the plan.

The number “21” is not contained anywhere in the document.

The word “century” is not contained anywhere in the document.

The word “relevance” is not contained anywhere in the document.

Neither the word “patron” nor “customer” is contained anywhere in the document.

The word “mobile” is not contained anywhere in the document.

The word “digital” is used once;
“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.

The word “collection” is used once;
under the “Key Action Area” of Diversity
“Diversity is a fundamental value of the association and its members, and is reflected in its commitment to recruiting people of color and people with disabilities to the profession and to the promotion and development of library collections and services for all people.”

(I’m not even going to get into what a “Key Action Area” is, or how it relates to Goals or Objectives.)

The word virtual is used twice;
“Goal Area: Member Engagement
Objective (1): Increase member and staff innovation and experimentation in the creation of new opportunities for face to face and virtual engagement.”,
and again in their “Big Audacious Goal:
ALA builds a world where libraries, both physical and virtual, are central to life-long discovery and learning and where everyone is a library user.”

The word community is used three times;
“Goal Area: Building the Profession
Objective (4): Increase the diversity of the library workforce to reflect an increasingly diverse national and global community,
and then twice in their “Vivid Description of the Desired Future:
Libraries are widely recognized as key players in economic development, in building strong and vibrant communities, and in sustaining a strong democracy. Library users have access to physical libraries that serve as community learning centers, and online access to library resources 24 hours a day, and through a variety of technologies. Libraries embrace technology and are seen as trusted leaders in the information age. As a result, all types of libraries are adequately funded, librarianship is a sought after profession, librarians are leaders in the information community, information is accessible to all and all people in the United States are literate library users.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ALA is advocating that libraries become community centers. You read it here first. As I’ve predicted, unless libraries find ways to remain relevant to their community AS A LIBRARY, they will become community centers. Apparently, ALA has thrown in the towel and wants us all to become just a community center.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Literacy falls under their “Key Action Areas”, but simply means – “The ALA assists and promotes libraries in helping children and adults develop the skills they need-the ability to read and use computers-understanding that the ability to seek and effectively utilize information resources is essential in a global information society.” This singular statement is the closest the Plan comes to anything 21st Century skills related.

Information literacy is under – “Goal Area: Advocacy, Funding and Public Policy
Objective (4): Lead advocacy for crucial library issues such as literacy, intellectual freedom, privacy, fair use, preservation of our cultural heritage, information literacy …”,
and once more under their “Vivid Description of the Desired Future: Libraries are also recognized as an essential component of the educational system, providing critical youth literacy services…” (Maybe someone can educate me on exactly what “critical youth literacy services” are.)

Collaboration, a major 21st Century Skill, is also under “Goal Area: Advocacy, Funding and Public Policy
“Objective (6): Increase collaboration and alliances with organizations at all levels to advance legislation and public policy issues affecting libraries, librarians and information services.”

ALA’s Strategic Plan is so broad, vague, lofty and overarching that it touches NO 21st Century issue that could in any way be useful to any librarian desiring to become a 21st Century Librarian. But, as I always say, if it works for you, then it’s a good plan. Thanks ALA, for setting the bar so high.

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