Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc.
Strategic Plan Steering Team
Bobby Player, Sr., President
Director, Organizational Services
Office of Leadership and Management Services
Association of Research Libraries
21 Dupont Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20036
2004-2007 Strategic Plan: Process and Guiding Principles
In 2003, President Bobby Player formed a relationship with the Association of Research Libraries’ Office of Leadership and Management Services (OLMS) to facilitate the creation of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc.’s (BCALA) 2004-2007 Strategic Plan. A Strategic Plan Steering Team consisting of Caucus members Bobby Player, Stanton Biddle, Sibyl Moses, and JoAnn Mondowney was established. Together, the OLMS consultant and Steering Team reviewed the Caucus’s 1989 and 1994 strategic plans, gathered data from members, and created the 2004-2007 Strategic Plan.
Consistent with the President’s (2002-2004) theme, “The Road to Organizational Sustainability” the strategic planning process focused on identifying activities that improve BCALA’s capacity to execute it’s mission in an ongoing efficient and effective manner. The process of reviewing past achievements and visioning future goals was engaged with emphases upon strengthening management systems, developing an organizational culture that empowers members, and responds quickly to needs. Independent of the strategic planning process, a comprehensive member questionnaire was created to gather information about the current make-up of the Caucus and service expectations. Results of this questionnaire mirror the information provided by members during the strategic planning open forum session at the 2003 Annual Meeting.
The primary goal of the strategic planning process is to create a roadmap for the organization. It will serve as a guide for leaders to make decisions about which activities are most important for the sustenance and growth of the Caucus. Equally important, it also creates action items that are aligned with the organization’s stated mission and will facilitate movement toward this vision. At the end of a strategic plan’s lifespan, the accomplished goals are celebrated. Those not accomplished are reviewed, and if they continue to be strategically significant, are moved forward as part of the next plan. New strategic priorities are also identified, based on input from stakeholders, and those that are most strategic are incorporated with carry-over items to make up the strategic plan that will guide activities for the stated planning period.
BCALA Mission and Vision Statements
The strategic planning process also included a review and revision of the Caucus’s mission and vision. A mission statement describes why an organization exists—quite simply, it’s purpose. A vision statement describes the organization’s ideal destination—what it aspires to become. Part of the strategic plan review process included an appraisal of the current mission, in order to insure that it is consistent with the organization’s driving principles and members’ needs. After careful review, the Steering Team crafted the following mission statement:
The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. serves as the civil and human rights advocate for the development, promotion, preservation, and improvement of library and other information services and resources to the nation's African American community, and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians and other information service providers and advocates.
Upon reflection about what the Caucus should aspire to become, the following vision statement was created based on member and leadership input:
The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. will be the most influential organization serving the information needs, past, present, and future, of the African American library and information service community.
Core values were articulated at the outset of the strategic plan development process. These core values influence the identification and prioritization of Caucus goals and strategies for achieving those goals. They are the intrinsic guiding standards and principles that collectively define and determine the character of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. BCALA holds the following core values as central in guiding its activities.
BCALA values human rights.
BCALA values leadership within ALA, other professional organizations, and libraries.
BCALA values increased recruitment efforts and advancement of African American librarians.
BCALA values equitable access to information and increased resources for African American librarians and the African American community.
BCALA values its relationship with the African American community in promoting and preserving information resources and its services.
BCALA values membership satisfaction.
2004-2007 Strategic Plan
BCALA Strategic Mission:
The Strategic Mission is the specific area of emphasis placed on the development of the Caucus’s plan in the context of its current leadership theme, “The Road to Organizational Sustainability.” The 2004-2007 strategic plan was created “in the spirit of” that theme while recognizing the larger context within which the Caucus exists.
The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. was born out of the civil and human rights movements, speaking out forcefully against discrimination and acting to fight racism. The Caucus has been, and continues to position itself as, the premier library organization representing the voice of African American librarians and information services providers and advocates. As the Caucus evolves to meet the changing needs of the profession and stakeholder communities, new energy is continuously devoted to enhancing the organizational infrastructure and increasing member satisfaction.
Goals, Objectives, and Strategies
The following goals represent the desired outcomes and strategic activities identified by Black Caucus leadership and members as critical if the Caucus is to fully achieve its vision. The goals are not in order of priority.
Goal I: To minimize institutional racism.
Objective: Develop positions and proposals, and implement programs that hold people accountable for actively reducing barriers caused by institutional and individual racism.
Strategy: Leadership will speak openly and forcefully about discrimination and fight racism by returning to the organization’s civil rights activist roots.
Strategy: Create a process for voicing complaints of discrimination to ALA Council.
Objective: Promote racial awareness-building events within the profession.
Strategy: Sponsor awareness-building events that are free and open to anyone in the professional community.
Strategy: Promote awareness-building events that are sponsored by other library associations and organizations.
Strategy: Promote the sharing of “best practices” to increase diverse professional participation.
Action: Create a list of strategies for increasing diverse professional participation and disseminate it to members of ALA Council, various ALA divisions, state library associations, and library consortia.
Goal II: Play a vital, visible, and influential role in the American Library Association.
Objective: Increase the number of African American librarians on the ALA Council, ALA Committees, and other influential top-level leadership positions.
Strategy: Position BCALA members to take an active role in the Association.
Strategy: Nominate BCALA members to leadership positions.
Strategy: Promote the candidacy of BCALA members and supporters.
Strategy: Educate BCALA members about the operations of the Association.
Action: Offer voter education workshops for BCALA members.
Action: Provide information to African American librarians on how to volunteer for committee appointments.
Goal III: Ensure that libraries maintain and sustain the needed levels of African American professional librarians nationwide.
Objective: Develop methods and strategies to advance the recruitment and retention of African American librarians.
Strategy: Work with other organizations/institutions to actively promote librarianship among African Americans.
Strategy: Support existing BCALA scholarship activities.
Goal IV: Promote the programs and services of BCALA to African American Communities.
Objective: Develop a public relations program for BCALA.
Strategy: Develop a multi-media package.
Strategy: Work with BCALA affiliates, other professional associations, other organizations and institutions to develop and promote BCALA programs and services in communities across the country.
Strategy: Create purposeful events and programs in African American Libraries in the cities where BCALA Conferences, Midwinter, and Annual are held.
Goal V: Maintain financial stability.
Objective: Develop a financial base that supports core operational and programmatic activities and positions BCALA to take advantage of opportunities for development.
Strategy: Offer BCALA National Conferences that exercise sound financial management practices and produce a positive net cash flow for the organization.
Strategy: Increase dues paying membership to 1000.
Strategy: Maintain an operating reserve fund which holds aside five-percent of the incoming revenue. This process will continue until an amount equal to fifty-percent of our operating budget is in a reserve account.
Strategy: Endow the E.J. Josey scholarship.
Goal VI: Contribute to librarianship through research and publishing.
Objective: Create programs that support research and development activities for BCALA.
Strategy: Create a formal research agenda relevant to African American librarianship and libraries for BCALA members to pursue.
Strategy: Promote and endorse preservation of works by Black authors and content creators.
Strategy: Encourage Black librarians and information service providers to create, preserve, and make scholarly works accessible.
Strategy: Create and support formal opportunities for BCALA members to work on research projects with libraries in African countries.
Strategy: Apply for funding to sponsor research on a critical topic to BCALA members and to the longevity of the Caucus.
Goal VII: Support the needs of BCALA members.
Objective: Increase member satisfaction.
Strategy: Increase the number of BCALA city and state affiliates and BCALA’s involvement with those affiliates.
Strategy: Prepare high quality quarterly newsletters, furthering the mission, highlighting important programmatic activities, and underscoring the value of BCALA membership.
Strategy: Offer the BCALA National Conference on a regular basis.
Strategy: Periodically conduct a comprehensive survey of members and affiliates.
Strategy: Create an orientation program for new members.
Strategy: Develop and distribute a BCALA policies and procedures manual to all members.
Strategy: Make Membership Directory available electronically.
Strategy: Increase outreach to members through affiliate activity.
Strategy: Encourage BCALA members to take advantage of professional development and networking opportunities.
The foundation of any good strategic plan is a clear mission statement, description of the organization’s operating values, as well as the leadership and members’ vision of its future. In order to stimulate the current leadership and members to think about these elements—the cornerstone of BCALA’s existence—a census was taken at the 2003 Membership Meeting held in conjunction with the ALA Annual Conference. Members’ ideas where solicited in a group setting and captured in writing verbatim. To ensure full opportunity for participation, the list was then sent to the BCALA member electronic discussion list, for review, edits, and additions. The following lists, and sample quotes, represent the culmination of these data gathering efforts.
Values: What do you value about BCALA and what should BCALA value as a Caucus?
- Preserving and promoting literature
- Empowerment of the African American community
- Recruitment of African American librarians
- Visibility within ALA
- Representation within ALA
- Leadership training
- Community role models (local and national)
- Collaboration with other library and non-library organizations
- Our role in educating others about our culture, literature, etc.
- Promotion of accessibility of information
- Preserving reverence of our culture/past (make it living)
- Accessibility of information technologies
- Validate us as professional, intelligent human beings
Mission: What should be the purpose of BCALA in the 21st Century?
- Address listed values
- Promote and encourage scholarship of African American librarianship
- Support and acknowledge scholars, researchers, performers, and writers who produce the literature, in any format, that we consider ours and of our experience
- Protect these works as they originated from the community
- Archive and document the history and contributions of African American librarians, libraries, and library workers
- Have others come after us—sustain black librarianship)
- Maintain our independence as a financially sounds non-profit organization
- Develop stronger links across borders (Canada and the Diaspora)
- Remain a conscious for other organizations (e.g. ALA)
- Monitor the ALA to make sure that we have a place at the table/Demand that ALA give us a place at the table
- Promote/advance literacy and information and computer literacy in the
- African American community
- Place African Americans in strategic leadership positions—vote!
- Grow the membership of the BCALA
- Promote the reading of African American authors
- Promote libraries
- Promote reading
One member submitted the following thoughts in response to the question about BCALA’s purpose:
Dr. Josey and the “Founding Brothers and Sisters” did not hesitate to speak openly and forcefully about discrimination and did not hesitate to act to fight racism.….By returning to the civil rights activist roots of the [Caucus], I think we will be able to attract new members, energize older members, and begin to halt the decline in the effect BCALA has on ALA, library schools, and libraries of all types. If true professional equality is to occur and if our communities are to receive top of the line services, then we need a broad based plan that emphasizes professionalism and while it actively fights racism and discrimination.
Further, the results of the 2003 BCALA Membership Questionnaire show that the vast majority of members completing the survey belong to the Caucus because they believe its role in serving and promoting the profession to be very important. Second and third, in close order, are “referrals/networking” and “educational programs.”
Vision: What should BCALA aspire to become?
- Leader in advocating for African American libraries, communities, etc.
- Gatekeepers of our history, information, and culture(s), and help others access it
- Desirable to be part of BCALA, “the thing to do”
- Partnering/promoting/advocating for equity of access
- To work toward the point where there is no doubt that we have a place at the table
- Make this profession attractive to youth (programming, outreach)
- Actively work to address issues of social justice and equity
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