Strategic Plan

Association of Jewish Libraries

Strategic Plan

For the years 2014 – 2017

Our Vision

A world where reliable resources are made available in all formats and at all levels to anyone who seeks to study and understand the Jewish experience.

Our Mission

The Association of Jewish Libraries is an international professional organization that fosters access to information and research in all forms of media relating to all things Jewish. The Association promotes Jewish literacy and scholarship and provides a community for peer support and professional development.

Executive Summary

The Association of Jewish Libraries was established in January 1966 with the merging of the Jewish Librarians Association and the Jewish Library Association.  It is a volunteer-run not for profit professional organization.

AJL members include individuals and libraries, library workers, and library supporters, whose unique energies, skills and enthusiasm contribute to the vitality and the relevance of the Association.  The organization has two divisions: RAS (Research Libraries, Archives, and Special Collections) and SSC (Schools, Synagogues, and Centers). The new AJL was established to promote Judaica librarianship, raise professional standards, to encourage the establishment of new Jewish libraries and collections, and the publication of Judaic library literature.

The rapidly changing world of librarianship in general, and Jewish librarianship in particular, has prompted the AJL Council in early 2013 to authorize the development of a strategic plan to guide AJL in addressing such changes as the impact of the Internet, e-publishing and other technologies, and the evolving roles of libraries in the school and synagogue environments.  The committee was led by Dr. Yaffa Weisman and included Jackie Ben-Efraim, Suzi Dubin, Heidi Estrin, Fred Isaac, Rachel Leket-Mor, Daniel Scheide, Rose Shoshanah Seidman and Amalia Warshenbrot.  Dick Fishman and Fred Samulon of the Executive Service Corps ( ) were asked to facilitate the development of the plan.

The process consisted of a SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis, interviews of more than twenty stakeholders by the ESC facilitators; the development of a vision statement and the creation of a mission statement that took into account the new world in which AJL must exist. The plan presented in the following pages reflects the results of the committee’s deliberations which include the development of goals and identifying specific objectives to achieve the goals; setting specific milestones for each objective to assess progress; identification of a lead person for each objective; determination of required resources, and a projected date of completion for each milestone.

Two themes emerged from the SWOT analysis and the stakeholder interviews:  Relevance and Effectiveness.  The issue of relevance touched upon the ability of AJL to stay current in face of the changes mentioned above and to provide professional and peer guidance in these areas to its members as well as to actively recruit new members to become financially sustainable. AJL has to become relevant to a broader group such as publishers, authors, book sellers, heads of large Judaica collections, Jewish Studies faculty and similar constituents that have direct bearing on the AJL’s vision and mission. The issue of effectiveness was raised in regards to the Association’s ability, with its current leadership structure and best practices, to run the organization in a business like way and to make it financially sustainable.

With this in mind, the committee developed four top level goals:

  1. Dramatically increase AJL’s relevance to key constituents and communicate the Association’s capabilities to them.
  2. Strengthen connections with and among membership to build a sense of professional community that engages current members and attracts new members.  This goal will also address enhancements of the structure of our conferences.
  3. Ensure that AJL's management is efficient, consistent, effective and transparent.
  4. Establish a robust development function to ensure a vibrant and sustainable organization.

The following sections provide a brief history of AJL and its activities, the detailed plan, the detailed plan and the objectives for achieving each goal, and the process that will be followed to ensure implementation of the plan.

A Brief History of AJL

Over the past 50 years the AJL has sought to fulfill its mission by offering unique publications, mentoring and assisting its members, and through its annual conferences. The first national conference of AJL was held at Gratz College in Philadelphia in 1966. In successive years 48 conventions have been held throughout the USA, Canada, and in Israel.

For almost half a century the Presidents and Board members have followed in the footsteps of the first President, the Librarian of the Hebrew Union College Library system, Herb Zafren (Z”L), by representing AJL on the American National Standards Institute's Committee on Library and Information Science and related publishing practices, the Council for Archives and Research Libraries in Jewish Studies, the Jewish Book Council, the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education, the American Library Association, and the Church and Synagogue Library Association.

AJL Members span the globe: we come from North and South America, Israel and over a dozen other nations. We communicate and discuss issues over our listserve (Hasafran) and through our online News and Reviews, which contain information about us and book and media reviews. Judaica Librarianship, the peer-reviewed journal of the Association of Jewish Libraries, provides a forum for scholarship on all theoretical or practical aspects of Jewish Studies, librarianship and cultural stewardship in the digital age. Our annual conferences serve as vital meeting places for our members and supporters, providing opportunities for informal networking as well as forums and panels discussing a variety of professional, lay-led and academic topics and best practices.

AJL recognizes excellent publications in its annual conferences. The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience, The AJL Judaica Reference Award, funded by Dr. Greta Silver of New York City, established to encourage the publication of outstanding Judaica reference books., and The AJL Judaica Bibliography Award, funded by Eric Chaim Kline of Los Angeles, established to encourage the publication of outstanding Judaica bibliographies.

AJL Strategic Plan for 2014-2017

Goals and Objectives

Goal  I

Dramatically increase AJL’s relevance to key constituents and communicate the Association’s capabilities to them.


  1. Identify the key constituents and determine how AJL can best benefit them. Key constituents may include, in addition to librarians and library workers, educators, religious leaders, philanthropists, publishers, academics, vendors, etc. Leader: Etta Gold.
  2. Take stock of what the membership and the association as a whole have to offer in terms of programs and expertise. Leader: Tina Weiss.
  3. Determine how other library associations make themselves relevant to and communicate with their constituents. Leader: Amalia Warshenbrot.
  4. Develop a plan to enhance the relevance to constituents based on the research done above. Leader: Heidi Estrin.
  5. Communicate current capabilities and the plan to stakeholders on an ongoing, regular basis. Leader: Danielle Winter.

Goal II

Strengthen connections with and among membership to build a sense of professional community that engages current members and attracts new members.


  1. Determine how we currently interact with members and how members interact with each other. Leader: Tina Weiss.
  2. Identify and implement ways to improve communications with members. Leader: Sheryl Stahl.
  3. Determine what the membership is seeking in terms of benefits of membership. Leader: Tina Weiss.
  4. Design and implement benefits to members based on the results of the assessment. Leader: Sheryl Stahl.
  5. Sustain and grow the membership by 10%. Leader: VP Membership.

Goal III

Ensure that AJL's management is efficient, consistent, effective and transparent.


  1. Document and communicate organizational processes, responsibilities, meetings and deadlines. Leader: Joy Kingsolver.
  2. Provide Leadership Training to Council and Membership. Leader: Aimee Lurie.
  3. Regularly evaluate processes and improve as needed. Leader: AJL President.

Goal IV

Establish a robust development function to ensure a vibrant and sustainable organization.


  1. Provide fund development training to council members. Leader: AJL President.
  2. Establish the structure of the Development function. Leader: AJL President.
  3. Institute the fundamentals of fundraising. Leaders: James Rosenbloom, AJL President.
  4. Cultivate donors.  Leaders: James Rosenbloom, Fred Isaac.

Process for Ensuring Implementation of the Strategic Plan

  •        Charging a small committee, the Strategic Plan Oversight Committee (SPOC) with monitoring progress of the plan. This committee consists of Fred Isaac, Amalia Warshenbrot and Jackie Ben-Efraim, who assumed the responsibility of leading the implementation of the plan in June of 2014.
  •        Objective leaders providing a plan for achieving their objective.
  •        Objective leaders reporting status to the SPOC on a quarterly basis.
  •        SPOC reporting progress on a quarterly basis to the Council.
  •        Convening the Strategic Planning Committee at least yearly to review and revise the plan.