Developing a Vision: Strategic Planning for the School Librarian in the 21st Century

By John D. Crowley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
External Scanning

As the term implies, an external scan is the process of looking out at the external environment of the school to glean the most important trends that will probably have an impact on it. Let us consider an analogy. Suppose we are entered in a sailboat race from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda. We set our course based on knowledge of the external world. This should include knowledge of typical weather conditions for the time of year and of severe weather conditions. Suppose, further, that when we embark on this race we are blown off course during a storm. Any good sailor knows that the original plan will have to be altered. The external world changes, and a dynamic plan responds. This adjustment is logical and second nature to a respectable navigator. However, many educational plans are not dynamic. They are rigid to the point that if applied to this analogy, they would cause the sailor to sail back to his original course rather than set a new one. In other words, once put in print they become impervious to changes in the surrounding environment. Static plans are the norm in the educational world. We write a five-year technology plan with no built-in adjustment mechanism. However, once the strategic planning process begins, it never ends. The time and care spent on completing and understanding each step in the beginning are well worth it. You will become, as a school librarian, an invaluable resource for your school in effecting a strategic plan.

For purposes of understanding, the external world is divided into concentric circles radiating from the center (the school) but excluding it. The closest circle is the local community, which for our purposes is the local school district. Moving out to the other circles we find the state, nation, and finally the world. The inner circle, the school, will be treated in the internal scanning stage. When we execute this first step of planning, our task is to identify the trends that are emerging within these areas or circles. The typical reaction from educators at this point is to ask why it is necessary to look at the outside world. We educators are used to functioning in an informationpoor environment (Joyce, Wolf, and Calhoun, 1993, 22). How is this relevant to the task at hand? The reasons are twofold. First, most of the changes that have come to education and remained have not come from within but from without. The history of public education in this country has been a series of mandates and fiats from local, state, and federal legislative bodies.

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Developing a Vision: Strategic Planning for the School Librarian in the 21st Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides in School Librarianship Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgment xi
  • Part I 1
  • Chapter 1 - Why Strategic Planning? 3
  • Chapter 2 - Planning Team 5
  • Chapter 3 - Preamble 7
  • Chapter 4 - Values Statement 11
  • Chapter 5 - Mission Statement 13
  • Chapter 6 - Continue-Stop-Start 15
  • Chapter 7 - Current Context 19
  • Chapter 8 - Strategic Themes 21
  • Chapter 9 - Implementation 37
  • Chapter 10 - Final Deliberation 39
  • Chapter 11 - Other Considerations 43
  • Part II 47
  • Chapter 12 - Convening the Planning Team 53
  • Chapter 13 - External Scanning 61
  • Chapter 14 - Internal Scanning 73
  • Chapter 15 - Organizational Analysis 83
  • Chapter 16 - Vision Statement 91
  • Chapter 17 - The Mission Statement 107
  • Chapter 18 - Developing Action Plans 115
  • Chapter 19 - Setting Priorities 131
  • Chapter 20 - Action Plans and Budgetary Considerations 137
  • Chapter 21 - Keeping Strategic Planning Dynamic 141
  • Chapter 22 - Caveats and Serendipity 145
  • Chapter 23 - Conclusion 149
  • Bibliography 151
  • Index 155
  • About the Author 163
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