RUSA Strategic Plan

In my previous RUSA Update column I reported on the RUSA Board’s facilitated strategic planning session that took place on the Friday of ALA Midwinter in Chicago, which was led by Paul Meyer of Tecker International Consulting. Since that time the Strategic Plan Coordinating Task Force, chaired by Anne Houston, has met regularly by telephone conference and has exchanged roughly 200 emails to continue the work. One of our main tasks over February and March was to incorporate the priorities that had already been identified by our members in the RUSA Review Task Force Report, By the end of March we were able to share a draft of the Strategic Plan with the Board for review and comment, which can be found at Some of the questions that came up during this time related to how we will identify overlaps and move toward a more streamlined structure, how we should maximize the role of our publications as a key member value, and how to emphasize the importance of conference programming and the face-to-face experience. These questions and ideas were then able to be incorporated into the final draft, available at At its regular online meeting on May 15th the RUSA Board approved the RUSA Strategic Plan: July 2015 – June 2018.

As you review the plan available on ALA Connect you will notice that the action Items are the one piece that are still draft as of this writing in late May. Our next steps are to finalize our action items and agree upon who within the organization is responsible for achieving the success of each. This work will take place during RUSA’s Board meetings at ALA Annual in San Francisco.

The document itself is fairly brief and focused, so I’d like to include it here. Please think about the active role that you can play to help take each of these goals and objectives forward! I’ve offered a few comments for explanation.

Core Purpose: (JT: Why we exist; Similar to a Mission)
RUSA is a member community engaged in advancing the practices of connecting people to resources, information services, and collections.

Core Organizational Values:

  • Building relationships among members from all types of libraries
  • Encouraging openness, innovation, and idea sharing
  • Promoting excellence in library services and resources

Vision: (JT: Also known as the Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
RUSA is an influential and authoritative organization, essential to the work of anyone engaged in the practices of connecting people to resources, information services, and collections.

Vivid Description of a Desired Future: (JT: Gives us direction on how we move toward the Vision)
RUSA is known for signature products made available through a variety of innovative formats.
The association’s services are relevant, accessible, and clearly contribute to the success of its members at all stages of their careers. RUSA members benefit professionally through relevant programming featuring the newest trends, technology and services. Participation in the association’s programming is considered essential to professional growth and to advancing libraries to meet new user needs. The strength of RUSA is reflected in its diversity of collaborative, innovative and engaged members who participate in collegial mentoring and networking. RUSA is renowned as a leading advocate group for library resources, information services and collections, and is recognized throughout ALA and beyond for its expertise.

Operating principles:

  • Maximize time of RUSA staff and volunteers by operating as efficiently as possible
  • Manage our financial resources responsibly
  • Cooperate and collaborate with other divisions and groups in ALA
  • Enable virtual participation whenever possible
  • Emphasize the importance of marketing and communication to ensure that members are aware of all opportunities

Goals and Objectives:

GOAL #1: Create an organization with greater flexibility in structure, enabling members to pursue their areas of interest in a variety of ways with minimal barriers to involvement.

  1. Create a proposal to transition RUSA to a new organizational structure based on interest groups with a goal of reducing the complexity of the organization and better serving the members’ needs.
  2. Create a process that allows members to become more easily involved in RUSA
  3. Offer more flexibility in programming so that opportunities are accessible to all librarians regardless of their ability to travel to conference

GOAL #2: Offer services, programs and products that maximize the value of membership, making RUSA a good return on investment for its members and encouraging member engagement, recruitment and retention.

  1. Develop and expand educational resources and experiences that are of high value to many members, including education on cutting edge and advanced topics
  2. Respond to changes in ALA conference structure to ensure excellence in conference programming and delivery
  3. Maximize impact of RUSA publications and communications
  4. Increase opportunities for members to network with colleagues with similar interests
  5. Maximize the exposure and prestige of RUSA through awards
  6. Increase recruitment activities
  7. Boost retention strategies through member engagement

Please take a moment to look back at our current Strategic Plan for 2012 – 2015, available on our RUSA web site at You will notice that key language in our previous Vision statement has made its way into our new Core Purpose. Our primary reason for being is our act of making connections. Our previous plan also focused a great deal of attention on how we deliver content and communicate and recognized our need to move activities online. We have made definite progress in this area (and some of these efforts continue), but you will notice that a significant focus of our new plan is on maximizing the value of the content itself. By providing high-value content and engaging experiences for our members we clearly support a good return on investment.

I again want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who played a part in the completion of this project, including all of our RUSA members who participated in the RUSA Review survey last summer, the Board members who have been engaged in providing constructive input and feedback, and especially the members of the Task Force – Anne Houston, Chris LeBeau, Erin Rushton, Jennifer Boettcher, Kathleen Kern, and Liane Taylor – for their hours of dedication to ensure that we defined the right priorities for our association. When you see Anne in San Francisco, please thank her for sacrificing at least two spring weekends to make much needed changes to the document!

Joseph Thompson
RUSA President 2014-2015