A strategic plan (aka long-range plan) lays down a path for your entire library to follow, including tech staff, circulation staff, director, trustees, pages and so on. It begins with a look at the present, proceeds to a discussion of future trends and then discusses the ways in which your library will address these challenges. As you’re creating a strategic plan, you’ll be getting an overall picture of your library — its strengths, its weaknesses, its opportunities, its ongoing projects and services. You’ll also look at your community to see who they are, why they use the library or don’t use the library and what needs they have that aren’t being fulfilled.
Why Use a Strategic Plan as You’re Writing Your Tech Plan:
- Without a strategic plan to refer to, your technology planning conversations are more likely to wander aimlessly. The goals and objectives for the library as a whole can focus and guide your conversations.
- Without a strategic plan, you’re more likely to embrace a technology because it’s cool or sexy. Every new and existing technology should relate to one or more of the library’s strategic objectives.
- Strategic planning can help you prioritize your technology objectives. There are so many great new technologies that your brainstorming list can be pages and pages long. Which ones will you tackle first?
- A good strategic plan can remind you who you serve. What different demographic groups and interest groups are there in your community? Which needs do they have that a library could fulfill?
- It can also remind you of technology projects you’ve worked on in the past and projects that are still underway. Did they fail or succeed and what lessons were learned? Especially in larger libraries, it’s often hard for one person to know the library’s entire technology history. The technology assessment that we discussed earlier can also help with this.
- Dust off your strategic plan and read it.
- If you don’t have a strategic plan, visit some of our additional resources and think about how to begin this crucial process.
Stories from the Field
We do have an overall strategic plan. It was a five-year plan, we’re in year three, and that was for the whole library system. We actually hired a consultant. She came in, and we had the community come in and give their opinions about what we should do and all that kind of stuff. Then we set our goals for the next five years, and each year, we update those with activities that support the goals. So, for example, one of the things that the people in the public said that they wanted was they wanted the library to be like a community meeting center. We started talking about maybe we need to renovate some of our older meeting rooms so that they’re more user-friendly and maybe we need to drop in some extra data jacks, stuff like that. That’s where it started. Then as it has progressed, we’ve just done different activities to support that goal. Then what I do, I don’t write a technology plan in a vacuum because to me, that’s kind of pointless.Michelle Foster
Boone County Library, KY
Yeah, we do have a technology plan, but pretty much everything is in process. So our technology plan was actually, I can't say it was easy to write, but once I started actually figuring out how to do it all the goals were there already. They were already put in place before I walked through the door, [in] the planning documents for this building.Darla Wegener
Lincoln Public Library, CA
For more information about strategic and technology planning, check out the Further Resources section.