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Lib. Management

Strategic Planning

What is Strategic Planning?

Why do Strategic Planning?

Basics of Planning

Models and Resources


What is Strategic Planning?
A strategic plan is like a road map for your library, detailing where you are going over the next few years, how you plan to get there, and how you will evaluate if you got there (or not). A strategic plan provides a framework by which to measure your successes. Involving community members in your planning process ensures that you will have a broad base of support for the priorities you set.

Why do Strategic Planning?
Planning isn’t an end unto itself, simply for the sake of having a plan. Rather it is important to have a clear plan to help guide what you do. While especially true in the current budget climate, it been true for a long time (always, perhaps?) that libraries do not have enough resources (money, staff, facilities, etc.) to do everything they might want to do. Setting priorities in keeping with your strategic plan, based on the expressed needs of community members, help you to demonstrate that you are making careful use of your library’s (and community’s) resources. The plan’s priorities will help you to make wise decisions about your library’s operation (policies, collections, services).

Basics of Planning.
There are many ways to plan, and various models. But most involve some variation on the following questions:

Involving community members in your planning process ensures you will have a broad base of support for the priorities you set. Creating your plan (and its priorities) in conjunction with the needs and priorities of your community allows you to demonstrate how the library contributes to the success of the community.

It is usually a good idea to use an outside consultant to facilitate your strategic planning process. They will have specialized skills that your staff and board may not have, and their neutrality will lend credibility to your process. You can often find someone in your community with the skills and experience you need. Possible sources include:

Additionally, the Library Consultants Directory Online lists library consultants for a variety of areas, including strategic planning. You can search by area of expertise, and by state.  Be aware that facilitators you find using this directory will likely charge more than those you find in your community.

Models and Resources.
The standard model for public libraries is called Strategic Planning for Results, from the American Library Association (ALA). The book Strategic Planning for Results presents the the essential steps to this planning process. Workforms for the process are also freely available.

Many books and online resources will also help you.  Some are listed below:


Online Resources:

Samples of Strategic Plans:


For more information about strategic planning, contact Mark Ibach