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Strategic Plan: 2012-2014


In June 2012, the District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) Board invited DCLA Past President Susan Fifer Canby (1991-1992) to lead the group in developing a two year strategic plan and setting goals for the coming year. The group reviewed the DCLA 2005-2007 Strategic Plan, the Bylaws, the Board Handbook, membership data, and past event data. In advance of the meeting, each Board member completed a survey created by Susan Fifer Canby, the answers to which formed a basis for thinking and discussion. The resulting strategic plan creates a roadmap of goals and action items for the Board and Association for the next one to two years. It is hoped that the plan builds on DCLA's strengths and successes. At the same time, the plan calls on the Association, its governing structures, and its Membership to re-evaluate, update, and perhaps even eliminate outmoded systems and procedures in order to best meet the needs of its members. 

This strategic plan includes the following:

  • a summary of the Board's vision;
  • a set of goals that identify where the Association will focus its energy in the next 1-2 years to the benefit of Members;
  • a set of actions the Association could take in the next 1-2 years to achieve the stated goals;
  • an updating and clarification of Board leadership roles.

Strategic thinking and planning is an ongoing process within any organization. The 2012-2014 plan will be assessed annually at the Board Retreat, and updated based on achievements, changing needs, and Member feedback. 


"DCLA: Developing Leaders Since 1894"

The District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA) is an all-volunteer association that provides leadership to the library community in the District of Columbia. Founded in 1894, DCLA 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. DCLA provides opportunities for personal and professional development through networking; participation in committees, interest groups, and its executive board; and through programming for new and transitioning information professionals. DCLA also advocates for local libraries and issues related to library service. Membership is open to information professionals, library staff, retirees, trustees, library school students, library volunteers, libraries, and Friends of Libraries who work, live, or go to school in the District of Columbia. The Association is a chapter of the American Library Association (ALA), with an elected chapter councilor serving on the ALA governing board. 


The following are DCLA's goal areas for the next 2-3 years. The goals listed below are of equal importance and are not necessarily in priority order. The objective and strategies provide direction for how the goal will be achieved. The strategies are actions to be taken within the next year. Strategies will be further developed by volunteer members. 

Goal: Advocacy


DCLA has been an historic leader in library advocacy within the District of Columbia. DCLA 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. The drastic cuts to DC Public School Libraries and shortfalls to the DC Public Library budget in 2011-2012 were a sharp reminder that DCLA needs to provide a proactive, unified voice within the local library community.


DCLA will advocate for advocate for libraries, library jobs, literacy, and information for all. Efforts will focus on libraries within the District of Columbia, specifically public libraries and school libraries. The one to two year horizon will include developing relationships, gathering information, and setting small, obtainable goals.


  • Appoint an Advocacy Director to the Executive Board. 
  • Establish an Advocacy Committee or Interest Group.
  • Reach out to local library leaders, particular the District of Columbia State Librarian, the head of DC Public School Libraries, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Schools.
  • Work with the ALA office for Advocacy and ALA Chapter Relations office to make better use of the Legislative Action Center Capwiz tool.
  • Communicate advocacy news to DCLA membership and local communities through the DCLA listserv, website, and social media platforms.

Goal: Membership 


Maintaining membership numbers is an increasingly difficult challenge as people face competition for time and money. DCLA remains an affordable professional association with opportunities for personal and professional growth, but without marketing our small but nimble association is eclipsed by larger associations in the area.


Increase membership by 15% over two years.  


  • Each Board member is responsible for recruiting 3-5 new members per year.
  • Work with the ALA Chapter Relations office to set up bundled membership for students and paraprofessionals.
  • Define membership as open and inclusive on the website and other literature (see Vision above).
  • More clearly articulate benefits of membership on the website and other literature.
  • Create and distribute updated marketing materials, e.g., brochures. 
  • Reach out to local library school deans at CUA-SILS and UMD iSchool to identify opportunities for cross-promotion and collaboration.
  • Reach out to local library school student ALA chapters.
  • Maintain and track membership analytics (tied to Revise Systems, below). 
  • Establish regular schedule of communication with membership, e.g., at least monthly communique from President to membership (tied to Revise Systems, below).
  • Establish system of acknowledgement of donors, e.g., thank you letter for IRS, acknowledgement on website, acknowledgement in annual banquet program (tied to Revise Systems, below). 
  • Revise the Washington Area Library Directory (2-3 year action). 

Goal: Programming (Career/Leadership Development)


Although DCLA cannot compete with larger and better funded local library associations, it can fill the niche of professional development programming for new and transitioning information professionals at an affordable cost. As an organization inclusive of public and school libraries, DCLA is also uniquely suited to support the volunteer and "accidental" librarian. Popular and successful annual events will be continued, but might be moved to lower-cost venues to promote financial sustainability. 


Provide one member-organized event per month (or minimum one event per quarter). 


  • Re-appoint a Programming Committee.  
  • Provide a forum for members to share their knowledge and learn from their peers. 
  • Put out a call for programming in the late summer/early fall and in the early new year.
  • Establish a reporting calendar for program organizers (tied to Revise Systems, below). 
  • Fill a city-wide gap in programming for job seekers, new librarians, and people in transition due to the economy or life changes. 
  • Solicit programming under the rubrics of advocacy and career/leadership development. 
  • Offer orientation material on how to plan a program with DCLA, either a workshop and/or written guide on the website.
  • Continue to organize library tours.
  • Improve marketing of events (tied to Revise Systems, below).
  • Annual programs will be planned as lower cost events or registration will be raised in order to prevent over-budgeting and maintain financial sustainability. 

Goal: Revise Systems 


Policies, procedures, handbooks, and bylaws have become outmoded for the executive board, committees, and other groups within the Association, and require a broad revision. Publication of the Association newsletter Capitol Librarian has stalled. Archival policies are not being maintained. Technology systems used to communicate with the membership need review. 


Broadly review and revise association "systems" to improve communication with members, preserve the history of the association, and create succession planning between association leaders.


  • Develop a knowledge management system to facilitate board and committee communication and planning, and to facilitate leadership succession.
  • Provide training in established technology systems to Board members (e.g., the CMS).
  • Develop a Board calendar, to be maintained by the Board President.
  • Review and update the Board handbook to reflect current practices.
  • Review, update, and document the program planning process.
  • Review and update the Bylaws in two stages: 1) approve April King's currently proposed edits 2) further update and approve to reflect current and recommended practices following assessment of this 2012-2014 strategic plan.
  • Develop and implement an archives policy.
  • Review and, where necessary, revise all the technology systems the Board uses to manage and communicate with members (e.g., website CMS, listserv, web domain, voicemail, dues and registration collection).
  • Review and, where necessary, revise all financial systems for the Association (e.g., consolidate under-performing investment accounts, develop an investment policy, etc.).
  • Sunset defunct interest groups, and establish a policy for the formation of new groups.
  • Establish ongoing or ad hoc committees to accomplish the goals of this strategic plan or to meet other Association needs (e.g., Finance Committee, Systems Committee, Career/Leadership Development Committee, Capitol Librarian/Communication Committee). 
  • Establish a regularly scheduled, written reporting structure from committees, interest groups, and program planners to the Board.
  • Investigate new format(s) and content development strategy for Capitol Librarian. 
  • Possibly hold an end of the year volunteer appreciation event.  

Updating and clarifying Board leadership roles: 

To achieve the goals stated in this strategic plan, the Board will update and clarify roles and responsibilities. What were unspecified Board Director positions will become positions tied to the achievement of certain DCLA visions and goals. 


The President is the chief executive and spokesperson for the association. In accordance with the By-Laws, the President is responsible for both substantive and administrative decisions regarding association plans and activities. In particular, the President is responsible for the following:

  • Presides over the annual DCLA Executive Board Planning Breakfast 
  • Ensures annual goal setting and strategic planning, with input from the entire Board
  • Creates the Executive Board agendas and the Executive Board calendar, with input from entire Board and membership
  • Presides over meetings of the DCLA Executive Board
  • Sees that information in the DCLA Handbook is updated; provides copies to the Board, committee chairs, et al
  • Works with the Treasurer on finances
  • Communicates at least monthly to membership via website, listserv, and social media, and at programs 
  • Appoints the Elections Nominating Committee and ensures annual elections
  • Appoints the Joint Spring Workshop liaison
  • Appoints the Student Financial Aid Committee members
  • Appoints other Committee chairs and committee members as necessary  
  • Focuses advocacy efforts 
  • Manages fundraising to enable scholarship program (e.g. 2012 replenish $3000 to the Ruth Fine scholarship fund account)
  • Mentors VP and works on succession planning for the following presidency 

Immediate Past President 

The Immediate Past President attends all Board meetings and provides continuity by informing the Board of past procedures and activities. Specially, the Immediate Past President is responsible for the following:

  • Counsels the Board
  • Mentors the President
  • Chairs the Awards and Nominating Committee (note, requires Bylaws change)

Vice President/Pres Elect 

The Vice-President/President-Elect is responsible for the program activities of the Association and for acting in the place of the President as necessary. Specifically, the Vice-President/President-Elect is responsible for the following:     

  • Coordinates the Program calendar and mentors program planners 
  • Reviews and updates the website and social media sites for currency, in coordination with the Communications Director/Secretary and Systems Director
  • Generates news for the website and social media  
  • Plans the annual spring banquet 
  • Works closely with the President to prepare for future position 

Secretary/Communications Director

The Secretary/Communications Director is responsible for taking minutes, ensuring access to the records of the Association, and facilitating communication of news and events to the Association. Specifically, the Secretary/Communications Director is responsible for the following: 

  • Takes minutes of Executive Board meetings and distributes them to the Board prior to the following meeting
  • Keeps minutes of the business meetings of the membership 
  • Keeps on file all committee reports 
  • Makes the minutes and records available to all members 
    • deposits annually the Association records with the D. C. Public Library Washingtoniana Collection
    • furnishes current records on request
  • Has on hand at each meeting a list of all existing committees and their members
  • Send to the Executive Board, Interest Group Chairs, and Committee Chairs a notice of each meeting 
  • Handles correspondence addressed to the Secretary and additional correspondence as directed by the President or Executive Board 
  • Reviews and updates the website and social media sites for currency, in coordination with the Vice President and Systems Director
  • Supports program marketing, in coordination with the Vice President
  • Generates news for the website and social media 


The Treasurer is responsible for the financial affairs of the Association. The Treasurer is also responsible for informing committees and interest groups about financial procedures. Specifically, the Treasurer is responsible for the following: 

  • Receives all monies paid to the Association and makes all disbursements required for authorized bills
  • Coordinates with the Membership Director to process member dues 
  • Keeps accurate, up-to-date accounts of receipts and disbursements, and reports to the Executive Board on a monthly basis
  • Prepares an annual report of DCLA financial affairs for the Executive Board 
  • Prepares an annual budget for Executive Board approval
  • Establishes procedures for receipts and disbursements involving interest groups and committees; maintains and distributes DCLA forms for reimbursement
  • Maintains checking, savings, and investment accounts on behalf of the Association; prudently shifts money between accounts; advises Board when circumstances warrant consideration of shift of accounts to another institution 
  • Prepares and files Association taxes or arranges for the preparation and filing of taxes by an external firm 
  • Maintains files on IRS tax exempt status; IRS Employee Identification number (i.e. tax id number); D.C. tax-exempt status, D.C. Corporations Commission and other official filing, and charter/incorporation papers. 
  • Monitors Board insurance
  • Oversees a CMS for financial information 

Membership Director  

The Membership Director is responsible for maintaining the membership records and mailing list for the Association. Specifically, the Membership Director is responsible for the following: 

  • Maintains an up-to-date membership roster and mailing list in the membership management software
  • Analyses and reports on membership and program attendance metrics to Board
  • Assists in resolving problems involving individual memberships
  • Sends special e-mailing to those members who have not renewed their membership by a designated time 
  • Recruits new members
  • Plans annual membership event (Fall)
  • Liaises to local MLS schools
  • Assists the Treasurer 

ALA Council Representative

The ALA Council Representative is responsible for representing the Association and its Executive Board within the American Library Association. The Chapter Representative is a voting member of the ALA Council and as such must exercise a considerable degree of independence, initiative, and judgment in voting and representing DCLA on the ALA Council. Specifically, the ALA Council Representative is responsible for the following: 

  • Attends the twice yearly conferences of the American Library Association and specifically attends the ALA Council sessions
  • Represents and/or presents positions and wishes of the D. C. Library Association on ALA Council matters and issues
  • Reports back to the Executive Board and the membership the decisions made by the ALA Council and its areas of concern
  • Reports regularly to the ALA Chapter Council Office the issues, programs, and activities taking place in the Association
  • Promotes both ALA activities and services in the Washington area 


The Directors provide guidance to the Association. Specifically, the Directors are responsible for the following:

  • Attend Board meetings and discuss issues of concern to the Association
  • Help to set policy for the Association
  • Attend program meetings as feasible to monitor effectiveness of Association
  • May be asked to serve on special committees by the President
To achieve the goals of this Strategic Plan, we are further clarifying the roles of the three Directors. 

Advocacy Director 

  • Synthesizes and posts pertinent information and news from ALA and other news sources to the DCLA listserv, website, and social media
  • Chairs Library Legislative Day (LLD) committee or recruits and mentors/liaises to the Chair of LLD committee
  • Liaises with ALA Advocacy office, the DC State Librarian (DCPL), and the Federation of Friends of DCPL in coordination with the President
  • Recommends advocacy efforts and/or plans advocacy programming 

Career/Leadership Development Director

  • Develops and updates career content on website
  • Synthesizes and posts pertinent information and news from ALA and other news sources to listserv, website, and social media 
  • Posts new jobs to the listserv
  • Develops two or more annual programs to support career development, specifically aimed at new and transitioning professionals; programming can also be on adaptive services, technologies, or more
  • Liaises with TRAK, I Need a Library Job, and other job representatives
  • Recruits and mentors Joint Spring Workshop representative

Systems Director

  • Maintains the back end of the website and membership management CMS
  • Maintains the listservs
  • Develops tutorials and training on tech systems used for Board members 
  • Researches and advises on the best systems to facilitate Association and Board business

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