No doubt, it has been a very overwhelming year of change for libraries and we are in a time of community recovery.  The MBLC and MLS have been asked by some library directors about whether this is an appropriate year for libraries to go forward with strategic planning.  Our response is “Yes, definitely!” Here’s why:

Strategic planning is all about change management.

Why do MBLC and MLS have such an optimistic view that libraries should proceed with strategic planning?  Strategic planning is one of the most effective techniques to navigate change.  With strategic planning, libraries can connect with staff, trustees, and the community to gather input, set strategic directions, and determine the best actions to respond to the current situation and adapt library services. A strategic plan is the key document to ensure that services provided during turbulent times connect with your users and community.

Community-driven services generate library champions.

Strategic planning helps libraries provide community-driven services. Feedback gathered from community assessment helps customize and prioritize future services and resource allocation. Gathering community input and taking the time to listen to our community’s needs and interests during strategic planning often results in new or improved community partnerships, generates a positive buzz, and transforms patrons involved in the process into library champions.

Pandemic trends present opportunities.

Our libraries can support community recovery from the pandemic such as through our unique position to alleviate the COVID slide; to support economic and workforce development; and to foster lifelong learning.  Many pandemic trends present opportunities for lifelong learning such as increased interest in baking, crafting, and the outdoors.  Libraries can offer more resources and programming in these areas.  The ubiquity of Zoom and teleconferencing creates options for libraries to meet remotely with trustees, friends, and other stakeholders;  to continue offering virtual programs or expand to offer hybrid programs; and to continue to offer flexible work arrangements for staff. Strategic planning is very timely with so many possibilities to consider.

Would you like more support?

The Massachusetts Library System provides consultation for strategic planning. Check out our strategic planning policy  to learn more.  If you would like to consult, please reach out to Kristi Chadwick or me/Michelle Eberle.  If you need support with the MBLC approval process, please reach out to Rob Favini.  We are here for you to help you be successful with strategic planning.

Stay tuned for next blog post in this series, Strategic Planning:  Gathering Community Input.