Sample Planning Process Outline

This 5-step planning process helps a board identify long-range and strategic goals based on community needs.

1. Develop a board vision. Have a frank conversation at a special planning meeting to discuss your hopes, dreams and concerns for the future of the library. Understanding where everyone is coming from and finding the commonalities amongst yourselves will help as you move forward in this process. The next steps in the process will help test the board’s perceptions and create a unified board vision; but if you don’t have this conversation first, it will be difficult to work as a group once the findings are in.

2. Assessment. Identify local usage trends through library circulation, program and technology usage data. Are there things the community is looking for that you are not or unable to provide at this time? Are there things the community clearly wants more of? Less of? Comparing the library to others with similar budgets or service populations can be a useful planning activity as well. The New York State Library provides a compilation of financial and service statistics through its website. Here you can find recent and historical data for all public libraries in the nation.

3. Gather input from your community. Talk to your community. Do not skip this step, it is critical to the future success of your library. Use a combination of focus groups, surveys and interviews with community opinion leaders to get a broad amount of input, from both library users and non-users, which will help the board to identify community trends, aspirations and priorities. To fully comply with New York State Minimum Public Library Standards the board must periodically seek community input in the development and evaluation of its service program.  The library director or library system will be able to offer strategies for the effective use of focus groups and community surveys.

4. Analyze what you have learned. Identify the library’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

5. Assess your library’s capacity to move forward in the areas of:

  • Personnel
  • Finance
  • Facility
  • Policy
  • Partnerships
  • Governance
  • Marketing & Public Relations
  • Measurement & Evaluation

Through these five steps your board and staff will have the information you need to create and write a solid plan for the future of the library.

Last Updated: October 20, 2015