Having a current strategic plan is vital to all libraries as a way to help move staff, programs, and services in a cohesive, determined direction. For small libraries, with limited staff and resources, finding the time to create a plan can be a real challenge. But it’s worth it!
Infopeople instructor Lana Gardner says, “In smaller libraries resources are limited. Funding staff, collections, programs, events, and facilities requires reviewing resources and making decisions based on them. Making the most of what the library has is crucial to its success. A strategic plan will help libraries make these, sometimes difficult, determinations and justify its decisions.”
Gardner shares four additional reasons that strategic planning is important in small libraries:
1. It brings everyone to the table.
It is the prime opportunity to reach out to those who can or will have a great impact on the library. Often the library is not as visible in the community as other non-profit organizations. Think about it: when was the last time you saw a flyer for a library fundraiser? Gathering a group of citizens together to represent businesses, schools, government, and citizens at large will send a message that the library is concerned about the community and wants to work together to strengthen communication. How often do your staff and library board members interact? Strategic planning is a great opportunity to involve both. Often board members do not have a clear idea of what is involved in each library staff position and the duties it carries. Staff may know the board members only if board members frequent the library as patrons. Working together on common goals can be beneficial in presenting a cohesive portrait of the library to the community.
2. It identifies the purpose of the organization.
It gives legs to the library’s mission. What does your library do in the community? Often even the library staff and board do not have a clear understanding of the organization’s purpose. Expecting the community to get on board with programs and projects is futile if the purpose is not well understood by all.
3. It outlines actions to reach set goals.
And there must be actions; setting goals alone will not accomplish anything. There should be a great deal of brainstorming as to the actions that need to take place to reach the determined goals.
4. It changes over time.
Realizing that strategic planning is not static but that the created plan must be revisited in a timely manner keeps the evaluation of library services fresh in the minds of management and stakeholders.
If you’re sold on the why of strategic planning, but are not sure how to do it, consider registering for the upcoming Infopeople course: Strategic Planning for Small Libraries. You will be guided through the creation of a step-by-step framework for a basic strategic plan that can be readily implemented, revisited, and revised according to your library’s needs.