By GAIL FINEBERG
Dr. Billington and senior Library executives recently briefed some 300 LC managers and supervisors on the first phase of an updated strategic plan to take the Library forward through the year 2004.
Unlike past LC strategic plans, this one links plans to specific efforts and money in a multiyear budget.
At the July 16 session, Dr. Billington emphasized that the updated plan and its implementation process were the means to an end -- carrying out the Library's historic mission. Stated anew by Dr. Billington in 1995 and reaffirmed by the 104th Congress in May 1996, "The Library's mission is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations."
Though budget-linked planning means "getting into a lot of process," Dr. Billington said that "we are going to [carry out our mission] better and we are going to do it differently. ... The challenge of doing something better means that we are all working together, and we all have to help each other."
Chief of Staff Jo Ann Jenkins, who led a Library-wide task force that updated the plan (see related story) said the key second phase would consist of 11 strategic miniplans -- one for each service unit (Office of the Librarian, Library Services, Congressional Research Services, Law Library, Copyright), human resources, security, support services, technology services, financial services and the National Digital Library. These plans, coordinated in advance, would align unit priorities, deadlines and budgets. These Phase II plans are 75 percent complete, she said.
The "Library of Congress Strategic Plan (1997-2004)" is a "living document," Ms. Jenkins said, and will be updated periodically. "This is our vision for the 21st century; this is what we want to look like."
The vision statement appears in one simple sentence: "The Library leads the nation in ensuring access to knowledge and information and in promoting its creative use for Congress and its constituents."
Ms. Jenkins said the new plan targets four major areas for improvements:
"1. Continuing high-quality service to Congress.
"2. Securing our people, collections, and buildings.
"3. Improving human resources, including the way we hire and develop staff.
"4. Continuing our innovation in technology to make our collections more accessible, not only to scholars but in every household and school in America."
The chief of staff instructed Library managers and supervisors to distribute copies of the plan and discuss it at meetings with all of their employees during the next 45 days.
"We want every employee to understand that we have institutional priorities and that they play an important role in accomplishing them," Ms. Jenkins said.
Plan Has Purpose
Thomas Bryant, introduced by Deputy Librarian Donald Scott as LC's director of the new Planning, Management, and Evaluation Directorate (see related story), explained the purpose of strategic planning: "The point of the exercise is this. You look at a vision: 'This is where I'm going to go. Then I plan how I'm going to get there'. ... You lay out your plans, you develop your programs, you link those to the resources required ... and then you go through the process of putting your budget together."
Having to articulate their programs and needs puts managers in a better position to defend their resources, Mr. Bryant said.
Managers and supervisors will be required to evaluate how well they are doing in the execution of their plans. "You can't be afraid to do that," he said. "Are you using the resources properly? Are you guarding them? Do we need some shifting around of resources ... as a team effort?"
Mr. Bryant's role will be to conduct quarterly reviews of the planning-budgeting process to ensure that service units stay on target and that their plans, programs and budgets support the Library's mission, vision and priorities. These reviews will lead back into more planning. "It's a good process, folks," he said.
Ms. Jenkins said the task force began its work with four basic assumptions: That the new Strategic Plan would be a "living document that would not sit on the shelf"; that programs should drive the budget rather than the other way around; that "everyone ... should use the priorities to guide effective and efficient decision-making"; and that performance management is critical to measure the results and accomplishments. "Individual performance plans are being revised to reflect action objectives identified in the strategic plan," she said.
Angela Evans, deputy director of the Congressional Research Service and a member of the task force, described the planning process as one of task force members meeting many times, sharing "a lot of information," building on the past work of many attending the July 16 briefing, and finally, arriving at consensus.
Priorities and Strategies
Ms. Evans emphasized that Priority I is to serve Congress: "We have the knowledge and creativity available here to give Congress what it needs to do its work, ... to help [members] solve their problems, to help them make the right decisions for the American people and to help them lead the world in many areas. ... We have to anticipate what they need, and when they come here, we have to deliver."
"This is a very high calling," Ms. Evans said, adding, "We going to do a good job of it. We're going to do it together."
Ellen Hahn, who was standing in for Diane Kresh, acting director for public service collections, Library Services, pointed out that Priority II, sustaining the collections, has been expanded from the 1995 version to include acquisitions and cataloging.
She noted that security of the collections and arrearage reduction are high-priority items for Library Services.
Ms. Hahn observed that Priority III objectives support the National Digital Library and other efforts to make the collections accessible.
Jill Brett, public affairs officer, standing in for Laura Campbell, director of the National Digital Library, said Priority IV, to add interpretive and educational value to the resources of the Library, "is an integral part of serving Congress, sustaining the collections, and making them widely accessible."
Ms. Brett said the Library cannot be as certain of support as Queen Victoria, who according to one story never had to look behind her before sitting down because she knew she could depend on a chair always being in place. "If we want to assure the future of this great institution, then we must all become advocates of the Library's invaluable place in our society," she said.
Ms. Brett said a Library bicentennial celebration being planned for the year 2000 provides an opportunity to build a broader national constituency for the Library. She said the goals of the Bicentennial Committee, led by Center for the Book Director John Y. Cole, are to heighten the Library's visibility with the American public, to illustrate and celebrate the Library's mission, to increase use of the Library's resources and to broaden the base of support throughout the nation for the Library and its programs.
Gary Capriotti, facility services officer, said: "To accomplish its mission and support its four priorities, the Library must have an efficient and effective infrastructure with five key components" (see related story).
Planning and Budgeting
Financial Services Director John D. Webster reported that the Library is implementing a new Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution System (PPBES), which will outline the total cost of multiyear initiatives and detail initiatives so that managers can weigh options based on cost, benefit and opportunity. The new system links budgets to strategic plans. Mr. Webster introduced Kathy Williams, who is managing the new system, which is being phased in for the 1999 fiscal year.
He also briefly discussed the "management decision package" (MDEP), which he said is a resource management tool by which managers link multiyear programs to strategic planning objectives and budgets. One MDEP can be written for a program with Library-wide implications, such as security.
Ms. Fineberg is editor of The Gazette, the Library's staff newspaper.