5 Signs Your Library Needs a New Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is a critical process for every library to reach its true potential. An organization without a well-designed strategic plan, is reactive, short-sighted, and without direction. Here are 5 signs that it might be time for a new strategic plan.

Innovation is stagnant

Is your library stuck in a rut of providing the same traditional services with little to no change over the past few years? To be a thriving organization, it’s critical that libraries offer services that are responsive to the evolving needs of the community they serve. It’s also important for libraries to offer programs and services that are competitive with surrounding libraries. If your patrons are not finding the services they need at your library, they will likely go elsewhere. A thoughtful strategic plan that is customized to the exact needs of your library and community will help you to identify, and plan for the implementation of new programs, services, and approaches.

Employee morale is low

There are many factors that can result in low employee morale, but some of the most common reasons are lack of organizational engagement, and lack of transparency regarding the organization’s long-term direction. A thoughtful strategic planning process typically includes a staff survey to help gauge employee engagement and identify areas of focus for long-term planning. While library administration and Trustees often take the lead, employees are an important stakeholder group that should not be overlooked in the strategic plan.

Mission is outdated or unfocused

The success of your library depends on having a focused, relevant, and achievable mission statement. If your library’s mission lacks clarity, or no longer seems relevant to the community or key stakeholders, it may be time for a new strategic plan. A mission statement is not just a catchy phrase on your library’s website or annual report. It serves as the organization’s overarching aspiration, and the primary measure for evaluating success. The mission statement should be short, concise, focused, and easy to communicate to your entire community.

Support from stakeholders is lacking

Public libraries have a variety of key stakeholders, including (but not limited to) residents, taxpayers, City and Municipal employees/officials, Trustees, library employees, and volunteers. A library that is experiencing a lack of support or engagement from any of these key groups of stakeholders may benefit from a new strategic plan. A thoughtful strategic planning process will include soliciting input from all of these groups, which helps to better align the organization with its stakeholders. A library with full support and alignment with all key stakeholders is better positioned to reach its full potential. A thriving organization is one where everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Change is reactive and sporadic

Every organization must evolve to continue to meet the changing needs of its stakeholders and service population. But often this change can feel reactive and sporadic. A strategic plan, customized to your community, will solicit objective feedback from all key stakeholders, to determine the best course of action to maximize resources and achieve your organization’s full potential. A multi-year strategic plan will help your organization to not just change, but thoughtfully and intentionally lay out a vision for the community’s needs, the library’s opportunities, and the resources needed to bring it all together.

Library Crossroads, LLC is a New Jersey-based consulting firm helping public libraries solve problems and maximize potential through customized strategic plans, director searches, and web design services. To learn more about Library Crossroads, go to Our Services or contact us at info@librarycrossroadsconsulting.com for a proposal.

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