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Develop effective and sustainable library operations and tangible community benefits from well-planned library services, technologies and facilities.


Library planning is a process of imagining the future of the community and the library and setting a direction for getting there. A formal strategic plan ensures that the library will provide efficient, cohesive, and effective operational results that meet the community’s needs while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

Planning is a continuous process. It requires surveys and analysis of library and societal trends, determining community needs and current services, with qualitative and quantitative measures to conclude if the work is successful. Appropriate time and necessary funds must be allocated in the library’s budget to implement the planning process.

Input is gathered from all external library stakeholders as well as the Library Governing Authority, and all levels of staff. This feedback serves as the basis for the vision, mission, and values of the library that guide the development of goals, objectives, and strategies that need to be accomplished; ultimately, the final plan is communicated to the community and the budget is aligned with the plan. Success is defined in the plan and locally determined by staff documentation, community feedback and governing oversight.

There are many methods to consider in undertaking a strategic plan. Preliminary research is critical to understand what will work best. (See planning resources at the Colorado State Library and LRS.)

Checklist: Basic

  1. Use these standards as a guiding document in the planning process.
  2. Establish a vision, mission, and values that are based on a review and assessment of community needs and the unique role of the library in the community served.
  3. Review and update the library’s strategic plan regularly to determine progress in meeting goals.
  4. Implement an ongoing, integrated process of community and library analysis, planning, evaluation, and community impact that covers two to five years and involves the library board, staff, and community members.
  5. Review the library’s goals and measurable outcomes regularly to gauge progress, effectiveness, and success.

Checklist: Future-Focused

  1. Review local, state, and national public library statistics (at least annually) to evaluate input, output and outcome measures and determine the library’s success in supporting broad community goals.