Opportunities for ALL-SIS in AALL's New Strategic Plan

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from Rosalie M. Sanderson, Vice Chair/Chair-Elect

At the July 2000 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, the AALL Executive Board approved a new Strategic Plan for 2000-2005. The Executive Board recently asked that SISs devote some time at this year's Annual Meeting to the new plan. It would be a great opportunity to identify initiatives that the ALL-SIS could pursue to further outcomes identified in the plan. Of course, before we discuss the plan or develop elaborate programs, we need to bite the bullet and read the plan. The text is available at http://www.aallnet.org/about/strategic_plan.asp.

The Executive Board, and, in particular, the Executive Board Strategic Planning Committee chaired by Ruth Fraley have worked very hard to develop a plan to provide structure and focus to AALL activities. The basic idea is that the Strategic Plan will serve as the framework for activities and programs of the various AALL entities, including the SISs.

If you haven't worked with strategic plans before, be prepared to learn a new vocabulary, including the following terms:

  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Preamble
  • Environmental scan
  • Strategic direction
  • Outcome
  • Initiative

The organization of the plan is hierarchical, so we'll begin with a brief look at each part of the plan:

  • MISSION:  A strategic plan always begins with a mission statement. AALL's mission is to "support and serve its members, promote and enhance the value of law libraries, foster law librarianship and provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy."
  • VISION:  Briefly, and in abridged form, AALL is a professional association whose members and libraries are critical to the success of their organizations and society, and who work toward fair and equitable access to legal information by educating library users to be skilled legal information consumers.
  • PREAMBLE:  The preamble describes the role of the strategic plan in the activities of AALL and its various entities, such as SISs and committees.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL SCAN:  The environmental scan describes the current law library environment in terms of role of the library, demands by various types of library users, and current issues.
  • STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS:  The core of the strategic plan is the identification of STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS to accomplish the MISSION of the association. The 2000-2005 strategic plan identifies four strategic directions:
    • Strategic Direction #1:  Law Librarianship is a thriving profession whose members are valued as critical to their institutions and to the legal system;
    • Strategic Direction #2:  Law Librarians possess the knowledge and skills to thrive in a constantly changing legal environment;
    • Strategic Direction #3:  AALL and Law Librarians are recognized leaders in shaping information policy and ensuring fair and equitable access to national and state legal and government information;
    • Strategic Direction #4:  A diverse legal publishing industry offers a broad range of legal publications in a competitive environment.

To enable the AALL to move in these four STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS, the plan identifies desired outcomes for each direction. For example, with regard to Strategic Direction #4:  "A diverse legal publishing industry offers a broad range of legal publications in a competitive environment," three specific OUTCOMES of association activity have been identified:

  1. High quality, authoritative legal publications in all formats are available at fair prices.
  2. Legal publishers follow fair business practices.
  3. Historical legal materials are preserved and accessible.

However, to be sure that these outcomes are achieved, specific INITIATIVES have been identified to achieve the desired OUTCOMES. For example, to insure that the first outcome, "high quality authoritative legal publications in all formats are available at fair prices," the following INITIATIVES will be pursued:

  1. AALL will produce and widely disseminate a report analyzing evolving pricing patterns and comparing trends in legal publishing to trends in other publishing sectors;
  2. AALL will provide consumers with tools for informed decision-making, such as an annual price guide with needed budgetary information;
  3. AALL will engage legal publishing executives in discussions that will educate both vendors and librarians about our common concerns and represent the best interests of our members; and
  4. AALL will work with other groups, consumers and members to provide leadership and ensure a vibrant and competitive legal publishing environment.

You can see that it is one thing to agree on the mission of the AALL as an association, but it requires careful planning and the creation of a strategic plan to identify the directions necessary to accomplish that mission. Furthermore, the association cannot proceed in those strategic directions without first identifying desired outcomes of moving in the direction, and enumerating specific concrete initiatives that the association or discrete entities in the association will undertake to achieve those outcomes.

 

What does this mean for ALL-SIS?

Members of ALL-SIS comprise one of the AALL's largest entities. Members of ALL-SIS should scrutinize this new 2000-2005 strategic plan with an eye toward identifying strategic directions and outcomes that relate specifically to academic interests. It is possible that we will find already identified initiatives that our SIS could embrace as a project, or that we as a group could identify other initiatives unique to academia that would help bring about desired outcomes identified in the plan.

We will set aside some time during the business meeting in Minneapolis to discuss the strategic plan and to get your ideas of special initiatives that might be undertaken by ALL-SIS to achieve outcomes identified in the plan. I also plan to charge the ALL-SIS strategic planning committee to attempt to coordinate the development of the ALL-SIS Strategic Plan with the AALL Strategic Plan for 2000-2005.



The Strategic Planning Committee will be holding a roundtable on Tuesday, July 17 from 12:15 - 1:30 p.m. Check the final program as to the room location. During this meeting, the committee will seek the input of section members on the section's strategic plan. Those members who would like to have specific issues addressed during the open forum, may forward comments to Larry Meyer, committee chair, at the University of LaVerne College of Law (meyerl@ulv.edu or 909-460-2065).