• Planning to Plan

    Recruiting and convening the Planning Team and establishing the workplan to help guide the strategic planning process.

  • Data Gathering

    Review relevant info and documents. Understand demographics and conduct community and staff surveys.

  • Community Retreat

    The heart of the planning process. Bringing community stakeholders together to create the framework for the plan.

  • Draft the Plan

    Drafting the mission, vision, goals, and strategies, as well as creating graphic versions of the Plan and Dashboard.

  • Implementation

    Working closely with library staff to prioritize and create a one-year implementation plan to guarantee success.

The Process

Our innovative and dynamic planning process, Rapid Results Planning®, has been utilized by libraries of all sizes across the country. We have developed a highly effective, community-driven process that results in a visionary yet actionable strategic plan that creates broad support and partnerships.

The typical Rapid Results Planning process includes the following phases:

  • Data Analysis and Environmental Assessment
  • Community Survey
  • Key Stakeholder Interviews
  • Rapid Results Planning Community Retreat*
  • Strategic Plan and Dashboard
  • Implementation Plan

* The keystone element of our process is the Community Retreat, which requires an involved invitation process to bring together a broad representation of community leaders, from homeschool parents and school superintendents to police chiefs, teens, and business owners. 

The Players

Library Strategies consultants work closely with a Strategic Planning Committee, which is formed to guide the planning process; provide background and context to the consultants; identify key stakeholders and retreat participants; and approve the draft Strategic Plan.

The Timeline

One of the defining features of the Rapid Results Planning process is its relatively succinct timeline. We can complete the entire process in three to four months at a cost considerably less than traditional planning processes.

The Outcomes

Strategic Plan. We believe strategic plans should be accessible and easy to understand. The Rapid Results Planning strategic plan document is one to two pages, graphically designed, and appealing to read.  We encourage libraries to present the plan broadly across the community through various media channels.

Dashboard. We also develop a one-page dashboard tool for governing bodies to measure progress on the plan. This interactive tool should be reviewed at every Library Board meeting to maintain momentum and accountability.

Implementation Plan. Finally, we work with the Library staff to develop an Implementation Plan. This is where the details of executing the plan are developed, with tasks, assignments, deadlines, and outcome measures.

Beyond the plan that is developed, the Rapid Results Planning process results in an engaged community that is invested in its library and values its role in enhancing the future.

Case Studies

Washington County Library Case Study, Library Strategies Consulting Group, Library Consulting

Washington County Library System (PA)

The Challenge

The Washington County Library System is a consortium of 14 independent member libraries, located just south of Pittsburgh. The System had largely served to pass through state funding to its member institutions until a few years ago when it developed a unified catalog and other coordinated activities. Significant challenges for the system included on-going funding and support for the System versus individual member libraries, marketing and promotion of the System, and coordination and collaboration within the region.

The Approach

Following extensive conversations with the System leads and a host of information gathering, Library Strategies developed a modified Rapid Results Planning® strategic planning process and retreat for the Washington County Library System.  The day-long retreat included key stakeholders from the boards and member libraries across the System.

The Outcome

Due to the particular funding, staffing and system issues, the consultants created a special presentation for the retreat to address and raise awareness of the future challenges for the System. This allowed the planning process and stakeholders to focus on key issues and opportunities for both the regional system, and its member libraries. From this, the final strategic plan included specific achievable goals in staffing, funding, and PR and marketing.  Beyond the written plan, the process also raised significant awareness of on-going structural issues facing the System that member libraries, public officials and key library boards can begin to address to strengthen library service for County residents.

Stillwater Library Case Study, Library Strategies Consulting Group, Library Consulting

Stillwater Public Library (MN)

The Challenge

An independent library serving a city population of approximately 18,000, the Stillwater Public Library was coming to the end of its previous strategic plan. Housed in an historic building that had been extensively renovated and expanded about 6 years previously, and well-loved in the community, the Library found itself struggling with inadequate funding following the expansion, as well as from budget cuts due to the “great recession.”  Additionally, the Library struggled with accomplishing the previous planning structure, which focused on specific service outcomes.

The Approach

Library Strategies conducted a Rapid Results planning process, including information gathering, community and staff surveys, a stakeholder retreat, and development of strategic and implementation plans.  Library Strategies also provided additional support to the Library and Board, including an executive summary and timeline for Board actions.

The Outcome

The solutions for the Stillwater Public Library were strategic and implementation plans, focused on the “big picture” directional issues facing the Library, rather than detailed service needs.  Some of the issues addressed in these plans included rethinking management of the facility, staffing and human resources directions, thoughtful downsizing of the collections, and long-term funding issues.  This focus allowed the Library leadership to focus more specifically on the challenging issues holding back more effective Library service for the community.

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