Library hires consultant to help devise strategic plan
By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 2, 2012 1:46 PM
A Charlotte-based consultant has been hired by the Wayne County Public Library to assist in the development of the library's $20,000 strategic plan -- a process that library Director Donna Phillips said will include public participation.
"This is a management tool, really for us to hear what the community values in their public library and for us to establish goals to help us meet their expectations and to have some measurements in place so we can say, 'Check. Yes, we did that,' and report back to our citizens," Mrs. Phillips said. "We want to hear from all of our library users on every end of the county."
The public will be kept informed all along the way, she said.
Bill Millett, president of Scope View Strategic Advantage, who conducted the library's 2007 strategic plan, will be paid through a $20,000 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act funds.
Awarded by the State Library of North Carolina, the grants are made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.
The Wayne County Public Library received one of the 71 competitive grants awarded to the state's libraries for fiscal year 2012-13 from this year's federal allotment of $4,322,143.
A strategic plan is a State Library requirement, Mrs. Phillips said. The State Library has to approve the consultant, and Millett was on its approved list, she said.
"We have found in the past that you really do need someone who has expertise in planning to be able to lead the process," she said. "Bill is certainly not the only consultant that we have used in the past, but he did do a phenomenal job the last time he led our effort. I was involved in that process and had a chance to work with him, and I am familiar with the quality of work that he does. Also, I had spoken with other library directors who he had led their strategic planning process so I felt comfortable moving forward with him.
"We were very pleased with that (2007) process and outcome. So he was the consultant I chose to go forward. Basically it (grant) pays for the consultant's work for the library. We will of course have broad public participation which will include focus groups at all of our (branch) locations. A strategic committee will be formed that will include local government officials, library advisory board members, staff and community members."
It will include a survey asking residents about the importance of existing library materials, services and programs as well as barriers that exist to greater library use, Mrs. Phillips said.
The goal, she said, is a document that will be a management tool.
"What we are looking to do is to define appropriate roles for the library going forward," she said. "We will review and make any needed modifications as to the library's mission and goals. Very importantly we want to incorporate accountability to our citizens and responsiveness to their needs. I think that is the thing to do and to make sure we show to our citizens that we are using the dollars entrusted to us wisely."
The plan will have measurable goals that will allow the library to produce an annual report in order to show the public about progress made toward those goals the public had said were important things to local residents, she said.
Millett will be in Goldsboro in August to meet with library staff to start the process, she said. The plan will be completed by the end of the year and implemented by the first of January, Mrs. Phillips said.
It is not a capital plan, but an operational one, she said.
"It is a five-year plan," she said. "That is a long time to plan out. Oftentimes now people are planning three years out, but these monies aren't available but so many years. It is a five-year plan, but we will look at it every year and measure our progress. We were able to accomplish almost everything in our last strategic plan. Those things that we were not able to accomplish had to do with a lack of resources.
"For example we had a goal about expanding the number of computers in our library so that access was more available and we were able to do that. We wanted to update our website so that we would have better organization and we were able to do that. We had hoped to do more things with maybe making our website available in Spanish for instance. We don't have anyone on staff who can do that so we have not been able to accomplish that."
Mrs. Philips said she does not have any preconceived notions going into the study.
"It will be interesting to see how electronic books play into this, and how our public tells us how they feel about that type of material," she said.
The Library Services and Technology Act grant program funds projects across the state. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.
For more information about the Institute, visit www.imls.gov.
For more information about the state's Library Services and Technology Act program visit the web page at http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/lsta/lsta.htm or contact the State Library's Federal Programs consultant at 919-807-7400.