Library boards continuously guide, shape, and build library services for their community as they make decisions about money, buildings, programs, technology and staff. The challenge is to make these decisions based on a carefully considered written plan. As you’ve learned, planning is one of the five major roles of a library board. A good plan is a road map and assists the board and the director in making decisions that are the best ones for the community being served. It also publicizes the library’s priorities and its vision of the future.
Put simply, planning is deciding what is going to happen at the library over the next few years. It is taking charge of the library’s future and creating it to be responsive to what the community needs.
Some important reasons to plan are to:
- Improve service to library customers
- Respond to changes in the community
- Reallocate resources to meet the greatest needs
- Anticipate opportunities and problems
- Provide direction for the library
- Make a difference in the community
- Enhance the image of the library within the community
- Be accountable
A library should undertake a formal planning process every three to five years to reevaluate the library’s service to the community and its future. Planning involves looking at what is possible and considering a wide range of alternatives. Open-mindedness and creativity will help you develop a plan that will make the most effective use of library resources. Keep in mind the present and future needs of the entire community served by the library. Planning will be most effective when it involves a partnership between the board and director and includes obtaining input from the members of the public, as well as from staff.