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DCLA Handbook: Strategic Plan: 2005-2007

The District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) was founded in 1894. During its long history, DCLA has been instrumental in providing professional development, promoting and supporting libraries and information centers and offering its members networking opportunities for career advancement.
Current members represent libraries from the legal and business community, from universities and research institutions, military and governmental organizations, public and private schools and public libraries of the greater Washington Area. DCLA provides these members with a variety of training and professional development programs, a monthly newsletter, access to a professional listserv, and opportunities to obtain substantial student grants and loans. In cooperation with other major library organizations in the District of Columbia, it publishes the Washington Area Library Directory, now in its third edition.

DCLA also has a long history of advocacy. It played a key role in the establishment of the District of Columbia Public Library and was responsible for initiating the first Library Legislative Day, now an annual event, co-sponsored by ALA in which library constituents from across the country visit Washington to speak to their legislators and advocate for library issues.

Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors impacting DCLA grow directly and indirectly from the technological, economic, political and professional trends experienced within the broader library community. Distilled into their basic components, these trends are:

  • The evolving legal redefinition of intellectual property, fair use and copyright, both within the U.S. and globally, to favor the commercial sector, to establish intellectual property as a commodity, and to limit free access to intellectual property, e.g. Tripps Agreement, Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  • The growing variety and use of licensing agreements by producers of electronic information to control access to information and increase profits.
  • The emergence of non-profit electronic/digital full-text publishers challenging the existing for profit publishing paradigm; e.g., SPARC, digital institutional repositories.
  • The lack of standardization within the electronic and digital environment.
  • The lack of acceptable archival standards within the electronic digital environment and the challenge of reliable long-term storage of electronic and digital materials.
  • The ever increasing variety of electronic materials available for libraries to purchase.
  • The increasing amount of materials available only in electronic format (e.g., government documents).
  • The growing expectation from library customers that their information needs can be met wholly through electronic means and the corresponding need for a more technological sophisticated environment.
  • The growing need to assist customers at the point of need and within an electronic context; e.g., virtual reference, electronic reference.
  • The graying of the library profession along with the decline in the number of ALA accredited library schools and library schools that adequately prepare librarians for the range of duties found in today’s libraries; the corresponding decline in the number of library professionals available to take on ever more complex and demanding library positions.
  • Static or shrinking library budgets in the face of increasing demands on the budget for library salaries, benefits, network security, new technologies, e-resources and inflation.
  • The growing number of consortial arrangements established to negotiate better fees with information providers.
  • The growing consolidation within the electronic publishing industry and corresponding price increases; e.g., Reed-Elsevier, Thompson Publishers.
  • The growing number of security breaches within the networked environments upon which libraries rely.
  • The USA PATRIOT ACT and other challenges on the federal level to limit uninhibited intellectual inquiry.
  • The growing restrictions on the access to unclassified government information.
  • Competition from other sectors for information specialists; e.g., webmasters.
  • Increasing need for more technologically sophisticated library workforce.

A number of environmental factors are more unique to the District of Columbia and the metropolitan region:

  • Static library salaries for non-federal librarians.
  • The rising cost of living in the area, including rapidly increasing housing costs.
  • Increasing transportation costs and commuting time to and from work.
  • Competition for information professionals in the DC library-rich environment.

It is clear that these trends will be with us for the foreseeable future. In response, DCLA will need to provide a forum for the growing training and educational needs of its membership, for career development and placement, as well as advocate for library issues and related needs.

A healthy membership ensures DCLA’s existence as an association. Volunteers administer DCLA, produce its low-cost programs, and disseminate its communications. But membership could be threatened in the next few years by several factors:

  • Increasing demands on volunteers’ time. Social and family priorities and workplace pressures are reducing personal time available for DCLA volunteered support. Members’ careers are requiring them to work longer hours and assume additional duties in more complex situations as staffing levels are reduced in many library organizations. Individuals are devoting much of their remaining time to personal activities.
  • Competition for the same resources. DCLA must compete with other organizations and agency initiatives for the facilities and resources once freely available for programs.
  • Competition for training revenues. The DC area has multiple for-profit, nonprofit, distance learning, and free training time.
  • Needed support for technology development. DCLA needs to continually upgrade its listserv and web site for member communication and outreach.
  • Needed future leaders. Experienced DCLA members have less time to devote to mentoring future DCLA leaders and new members have less time to devote to the association. It is increasingly difficult to recruit association officers.
  • Questionable perception of value. Potential members may not perceive value in professional association membership.

District of Columbia Library Association Mission and Goals Statement
The District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) is a dynamic leader within the DC area library community, a capital advocate for libraries and information providers, a resource for professional development and training, a forum for networking, and a mentor for newer members of our profession.

In support of this mission, DCLA’s goals are:


  • To promote the visibility and use of libraries and the essential role of library service and information providers for educational, commercial, and recreational needs.
  • Mobilize, support and sustain grassroots advocacy for libraries and library services at local, state, and federal levels.

Professional Development:

  • Establish a central programming committee to assist in the development, planning, and implementation of DCLA programs.
  • Continue our active support of the Joint Spring Workshop.
  • Form cooperative partnerships with private companies and non-profit organizations to assist in the investment and delivery of relevant, professional programming.
  • Continue to award up to two library school scholarships per year.


  • Develop a program for one-on-one and group mentoring for newer members of the library profession.
  • Establish an outreach committee to provide DCLA orientations to new library staff throughout the District of Columbia.
  • Use social functions, professional development activities and collaborative meetings to bring together members from a diverse array of libraries.


  • Establish a permanent marketing and public relations committee to advertise programs, advocate issues, promote membership and increase communications between our members.
  • Enhance and/or increase the DCLA website’s visual, functional and practical applications to better respond to members’ needs and interests.
  • Offer Intercom in electronic format.

Organizational Structure:

  • Revise and update the DCLA Manual to better assist board and committee chairs in carrying out their respective duties.
  • Create a Financial Handbook to guide board and committee members in the effective operating structure and financial procedures of DCLA.
  • Carry out an annual budgetary review of expenditures and income to help us maintain a fiscally sound organization that is responsive to member needs.
  • Develop a Records Management Plan to assist in retaining, organizing, describing and accessing of our association records.
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P.O. Box 1653 Washington, DC 20002
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