Strategic Library Planning

PlanExcellence is a moving target in today’s world, where change is a constant. It requires vision and leadership to build a long range or strategic plan to navigate the future and incorporate change. The importance of planning is demonstrated by the detailed strategic plan requirements outlined in Public Library Standards.

There are several resources available that help inform a three-to five-year strategic plan. There are the service responses as laid out in the Sandra Nelson book Strategic Planning for Results (Chicago: ALA, 2008), available at Indiana State Library, and the Aspen Institute’s Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries (Washington, D.C., 2014) They are both designed to align responses to community needs. Each focuses on partnerships with the community.

A long range plan should address financial sustainability. The current economic times where there is diminished funding can threaten planned services. Balancing the library needs with the money available requires planning. Is there a more efficient way to deliver resources? What are the costs? See “Strategic Planning and Program Budgeting for Libraries,” by Barbara M. Robinson and Sherman Robinson found in Library Trends v.42(3), Winter 1994, pp. 420-447; not available on INSPIRE, but available on the Internet or by interlibrary loan.

Keep the progress of your public library in mind through the long range or strategic plan. Identify what you do well, and provide new opportunities for the community to access needed services.

For more information regarding strategic plans contact the Library Development Office.

This blog post was written by Karen Ainslie, Library Development Librarian and Professional Development Office Librarian. For more information, contact the Library Development Office at (317) 232-3697 or email