Strategic Planning


Library Strategies will work with you to you engage the community so that you can better prioritize services and activities, build innovation in your system, and use your resources wisely in response to rapidly changing needs and budget challenges. If facilities are part of your planning, we can help you make important decisions about spaces to best serve your customers. We can even train your team to facilitate your own planning. Browse our services and case studies below.

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. During the pandemic, we have adapted the retreat process into a series of remote, facilitated focus groups.

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.

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.

A library is foremost an environment created to provide access to materials and services; therefore it is critically important that those seeking access are able to find what they need every step of the way. The building must conform to their journey of learning and discovery. Because each customer’s – and each generation’s – needs and demands can change over time, it is important that a library facility responds in kind.

Library Strategies can ensure that happens. We can be your advocates before a project starts (space needs assessments, cost estimating, etc.), during a project (working with the architect and library staff), or afterwards (remodeling projects, space use analysis and recommendations). Whatever your need, Library Strategies can provide the guidance, recommendations, and steps for implementation to help you maximize your space, improve flexibility, incorporate innovations, and improve customer service.

Rapid Results Planning Train-the-Trainer Program

All libraries should be doing strategic planning, but many libraries cannot afford to hire a consultant to facilitate this very important process. Library Strategies developed Rapid Results Planning® to be a comprehensive, stakeholder-driven process that produces great results.  To make Rapid Results Planning available to more libraries, Library Strategies developed a train-the-trainer program to teach other consultants how to use this tool effectively. Rapid Results Planning Training is appropriate for state libraries, regional library systems, and other organizations that support multiple libraries (of all types).

Library Strategies conducts a two-day training that takes participants from the basics of strategic planning concepts to designing the planning process to drafting the strategic plan.

The Rapid Results Planning Training program includes:

  • Pre-Planning and Recruiting the Planning Team
  • Data Gathering
  • The Rapid Results Planning Retreat
  • Creating the Strategic Plan
  • Implementation Planning

At the conclusion of the training, consultants will have the knowledge, skills (and a manual) to help them conduct effective strategic planning processes.

Participants who engage in Rapid Results Planning Training can include state library staff or consultants, or regional library staff or trainers. The training is conducted by Library Strategies consultants who have led dozens of Rapid Results Planning process for libraries across the country.

Planning for the training and conducting the two-day program can generally be completed in 6 weeks to 2 months.

The outcome of our train-the-trainer program is staff, or consultants, who have been thoroughly trained in conducting an extremely successful, comprehensive strategic planning process.

Georgia State Library

The Challenge

The state library office in Georgia recognized the need for public libraries across the state to perform strategic planning to more effectively serve residents and deal with their ever-changing internal and external environments. Yet, the office did not have the resources to offer the training for free and there was a recognition that many of the libraries, especially the smaller, more rural libraries, did not have the resources to hire strategic planning consultants or other outside assistance.

The Approach

Library Strategies was hired to provide a two-day training and follow-up support to a cohort of 15 to 20 librarians and state library staff on Library Strategies’ Rapid Results Planning (RRP) process. Rapid Results was chosen because it is an expedited, relatively low-cost, yet highly effective strategic planning process, with a focus on community needs. The intensive training, conducted by three principal Library Strategies consultants, included a written handbook and guide to the planning process, as well as a fun and engaging half-day mock community retreat.

The Outcome

As a result of the training, a cohort of lead strategic planners is now in place across Georgia, and each is committed to leading an RRP planning process for one of their neighboring public libraries. To date, numerous RRP processes have been conducted with successful, community-oriented plans put in place for primarily smaller and more rural libraries across the state. By “training the trainer” and then having each person commit to sharing their expertise with a fellow library, the RRP training helped make meaningful strategic planning processes attainable for public libraries across Georgia.

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 Public Library

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.

Case Studies

Contact Us

We love hearing from you! Send us an email and we'll get back to you shortly.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search