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
Upon reflection about what the Caucus should aspire to become,
the following vision statement was created based on member and
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,
- 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
- 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
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
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
Strategy: Promote the candidacy of BCALA members
Strategy: Educate BCALA members about the operations
of the Association.
Action: Offer voter education workshops for
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
Goal IV: Promote the programs and services
of BCALA to African American Communities.
Objective: Develop a public relations program
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Strategy: Develop and distribute a BCALA policies
and procedures manual to all members.
Strategy: Make Membership Directory available
Strategy: Increase outreach to members through
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,
• 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
• 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
• Develop stronger links across borders (Canada and the
• 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
Vision: What should BCALA aspire to become?
• Leader in advocating for African American libraries,
• 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,
• Actively work to address issues of social justice and