The strategic plan says it all

Case study

Module

Module 2: Building your library association

Topic

Topic 5: Planning for the association

Abstract

Effective organisations are confident about their role and purpose, as well as having a clear sense of direction that will help them grow and adapt to the changing environment.  A strategic plan will assist a library association set its future course and determine the management processes required to achieve its goals.  This case study examines the Strategic Plan 2007-2010 for the Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA), with attention paid to one particular strategic goal to “actively recruit new members and promote and encourage their full participation in the activity of the Association”.

Key Ideas

As you read the case study, think about the following issues:

  1. The value of strategic planning for a library association
  2. The different steps involved in strategic planning
  3. The relationship between the strategic plan and the services provided by the library association.

Profile

The Library and Information Association of Jamaica was founded in 1949. It was known as the Jamaica Library Association until 2000. The association’s mission is “To provide leadership in the development, promotion and mobilisation of personnel, institutions and resources in the information field in order to encourage learning and facilitate access to information” (LIAJA, 2010). The aims of the association are to unite those people engaged in or interested in library work in Jamaica, to foster the development of and encourage cooperation between libraries, to promote a high standard of library education and training, to work towards improving the status of librarians and to raise awareness about the library sector. The association is managed by an Executive Committee of the President, Immediate Past President, two Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer and up to nine other members. There are four sections (School Libraries, Special Libraries, Academic Libraries and Retired Members) and six Working Parties (Membership and Conditions of Service, Education and Training, Research and Publication, Public Relations, Fundraising, and Information Technology). There is also an Awards Committee and an Advocacy Committee.

Discussion

The mission and objectives of the LIAJA serve as the driving forces behind the association’s strategic plan (LIAJA, 2007). The association’s strategic planning process represents “the collective voice of the entire membership of the association, as the outcome of members and executive retreats” (Kerr & Vernon, 2003, p.1434). The current strategic plan covers the period 2007-2010. As the strategic plan has been developed for the whole association, the various committees, sections and working parties are required to extract the relevant parts of the plan to guide the development of their specific action plans or work plans. Each committee, section or working group has to present a six-monthly report to the Executive meetings in order to measure progress against the strategic plan. The plan presents eight strategic goals:

  • Recruitment: Actively recruit new members and promote and encourage their full participation in the activity of the Association.
  • Retention: Retain members by developing a meaningful partnership with them, encouraging interaction and networking.
  • Influence: Widen the Association’s sphere of influence within and outside of the profession.
  • Image: Develop and promote a positive image of the Profession and the Association.
  • Financial security: Develop a strong financial base for the Association.
  • Administration: Develop and strengthen the Administrative Structure of the Association tools.
  • Alliances: Establish and strengthen regional and international alliances.
  • ICT: Promote the use of information and communication technologies to develop professional competencies and to support the operations and activities of the Association and Information units.

Each of these strategic goals has a number of objectives, which cascade into the different activities that will see the plan become reality. Responsibility for the achievement of the objectives and activities is allocated in the plan to the relevant group and target dates are set. The elements relating to the first strategic goal – Recruitment - are presented to illustrate the structure of the plan.

1. Actively recruit new members and promote and encourage their full participation in the activity of the Association

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The remaining seven strategic goals encompass the following objectives:

Retention

  • Network with members
  • Reward the contribution and achievement of members
  • Maintain and make accessible a membership database on the website
  • Promote negotiated discounts, concessions and other benefits from business houses and various facilities
  • Maintain professional development of members

Influence

  • Advocate on national and international issues relevant to the profession
  • Develop, revise and publish standards as well as guidelines for libraries and information services
  • Create awareness of librarianship among policy makers and administrators in the public and private sectors

Image

  • Improve communication between the Association and the public
  • Develop a public campaign to promote the use of information
  • Improve communication within the Association

Financial security

  • Identify income-generating projects
  • Strengthen efforts to attract co-funding for projects
  • Display prudent and astute financial management

Administration

  • Establish a secretariat for the Association
  • Develop a records management plan
  • Apply ICT to the operations of a Secretariat

Alliances

  • Play an active role in regional and international library communities
  • Encourage and support members’ participation in international activities

ICT

  • Use website to disseminate information on programmes, activities and resources
  • Create opportunities for members to develop ICT competencies
  • Promote the use of technology to enhance the services offered by libraries.

Again, each of these goals is broken down into the critical activities that will realise the ideas, and responsibilities are allocated, with target dates to the relevant groups in LIAJA.

Summary

The strategic plan developed by LIAJA is arguably comprehensive. It seeks to ensure that the association is soundly placed to manage the services it currently provides and to be in a strong position to face the future. Responsibility is assigned to the various working parties and committees of the association, with the expectation that they will report on their progress towards achievement of the strategic objectives.

Questions

  1. Can you determine the key focal points of the LIAJA strategic plan? Which of the goals do you believe are the most critical? What measures could the association use to determine whether the goals have been achieved?
  2. Does your library association already have a strategic plan? If so, to what extent do some of the strategic goals overlap with those presented by LIAJA? If not, do you think that some of these strategic goals would be relevant in the context of your own library association?
  3. The case study provides the details of the objectives and activities for one particular strategic goal. Can you select another strategic goal and develop two or three objectives that you feel would be relevant? What activities can you suggest that could be undertaken to realise these objectives? Who should be responsible for the different objectives and/or activities? Are there any potential stakeholder groups who could be involved? How would you know whether the strategic goal was achievable?

Case Notes

Resource: Case study
Country: Jamaica
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Agency: Library and Information Association of Jamaica
Topic: Planning the association
Keywords: planning, strategic planning

Source

Kerr, P. & Vernon, J. (2003). Jamaica Library Association. In: M.A. Drake (Ed.), Encylopedia of library and information science. 2nd ed. New York: Marcel Dekker, pp. 1424-1435.
Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA) (2007). Strategic plan 2007-2010. Available online: http://www.liaja.org.jm/strategic_plans.htm
Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA) (2010). About LIAJA. Available online: http://www.liaja.org.jm/about.htm

Associations, Jamaica, Building Strong Library Associations

Last update: 21 October 2012