Small town public library life and library school topics of interest

LIBR 204: Week 6: Library Strategic Plan Case History

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As one of the premier library consultants in the state of California, I would not expect anything less than a thorough Strategic Plan from Joan Frye Williams. I liked how her analysis tied in well with the library’s mission statement, and that she collected data from not only the library staff, but community members and other city staff as well. By including a diverse group of users, Williams can find out what the actual rather than merely perceived needs for the community of Glendora are and create a plan to fulfill these needs.

One thing I appreciated in Williams’ plan is that her goals were attainable. For example, when she is discussing the increase in eMaterials, her goal is to reflect 10-15% of the collection total (p.2). This can be done through a combination of weeding non-used print material and increasing purchases of eMaterials, the latter of which is are reflected in her goals in Appendix D (p.17). She also discussed staff scheduling and the importance of having staffing levels reflect the amount of business during certain hours of the day (p.3); by shifting staff schedules slightly, more staff will be available to assist library users during busier times of the day.

Being a technology expert, specifically in her knowledge of technology trends, it is not surprising that Williams recommends being ahead of the curve technologically so staff are ready to assist patrons with their latest devices (the “trickle up” theory) (p.4). The concept of Ambient  Information was an interesting one as well – recognizing that the role of librarians has changed somewhat from directly providing information to acting as a filter for all the information that users have available to them instantly. I found the idea of organizing library space to reflect this change rather than in traditional collection/subject areas to be a cutting edge idea as well.

Joan Frye Williams recognizes the future of collections as well as spaces, recognizing the importance of having various formats for different preferences in reading/viewing habits. So, while traditional print materials are still being used, audio-visual materials and eMaterials play an important part in a library’s collection development plan. This shift from storing shelves of print materials to providing access to stored eMaterial affects the look of the library itself, giving the library a more open feel. (p.7)

In looking toward the future, Williams sees the relationships between library staff and community playing an ever-greater role as customers require personalized experiences using a range of devices and equipment to both gain knowledge and create. Partnerships with community groups/agencies/organizations are of utmost import as well.

Williams’ concludes her report with a listing of various methods for achieving these forward-looking ideals without specifically stating step by step what needs to be achieved, allowing library staff to decide how each ideal will be met. For example, Williams lists several areas where Glendora does not meet with minimum recommended standards (such as for public Internet computers), but allows the library staff to decide how to get to that level. In Appendix D, the tasks for the first year of the plan are stated clearly along with staff names for overseeing each activity and a completion date. Once the tasks are broken out in this manner, it is easy for staff to know what they are responsible for, and the timeframe for each responsibility.

This looks to be an ambitious but doable plan of action for Glendora’s next 5 years (or 3 years since we are over half way through the 5-year plan dates). The plan was well organized and well written, starting with philosophical generalities that funnel down into specific staff duties.

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