Episode 207 Strategic Planning

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Contents of this page:
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Guest Host Kathy Parker
  • Books We are Reading
  • Conclusion
  • Sample Plans
  • 30 Sample Vision Statements
  • 50 Sample Mission Statements



Hi, and welcome back to Linking Our Libraries!

We are from Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and our mission is to support libraries. That means we are here to help libraries and library people to find information they need, to build skills, and to share ideas about all the things that make our profession great!

You can check out our website and hit the Subscribe to Us link to subscribe to everything we have, including this podcast, our online book groups, our social media, and more! We have tons of information available on our website, for any library to use; and we will be adding more webinars and training opportunities to help you.

This week we have Guest Host Kathy Parker joining us to give her expertise on strategic planning. She is the Director of Libraries, Media and Archives at the College of Saint Benedict | Saint John’s University. We have visited both of these libraries, so if you  click those links you can go to the reports of each library. (Spoiler alert: both were great!)



This week we are talking about Strategic Planning.

Did everyone panic a little bit there? No need!

Strategic Planning is one of those things that sounds scary and hard and like it will take you a huge amount of time. But really, it’s just thinking about the future and what you want to do in your library. Generally strategic plans will be about three to five years. After that point, it becomes tougher to know what is going to be happening in your library and in the world around you. The idea is that it is a long term plan. Shorter time periods are tactical plans, or project plans.

(We are working on a new Strategic Plan here at CMLE; so if you are in our geographic region expect that we will be asking you for your ideas as we create and modify plans to help serve our community!)


Today we are going to do a quick overview of the steps involved in Strategic Planning. Your planning process may be more complex, or may be more compressed – you should work on it the way that makes sense for your library and for your community. There are a lot of different ways to create a good plan; but these steps will get you there!

  • Find other people to work on this with you!
    • It’s tough to do this alone; so even if you are the only one in your library – reach out to your parent organization, to CMLE, to other libraries, or to your professional organizations like MLA or ITEM or someone else.
  • Look around the environment outside your library
    • Any big changes coming up? Is tuition going to skyrocket next year? Are property taxes being cut? Do you have an election coming up, and the possibility of anti-library people being elected to your School board? All of these are worth nothing.
  • Look around the environment inside your library
    • Do you have a bunch of retirements coming up? Is your building falling down around your ears? Did you get a big grant that will impact both funds and staff time next year?
  • Write up your vision and mission statements
    • These are your guiding goals to help you stay focused on a direction where your library is doing its job and being successful.
    • We have links to vision and mission statements on our website for you to browse
    • These are short, to the point, and help you build a positive direction for your library
  • Set some goals to help you get from here to your vision of the future
    • Ideally, these are SMART goals:
      • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
      • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
      • Assignable – specify who will do it.
      • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
      • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
  • Then carry it out! Figure out who will do different goals, when they will be achieved, whether one needs to happen before the next, and how long your plan will be. You want to know when you are at the end.
  • Evaluate it! Next week we will be talking about Evaluation in more detail; for now, just remember that you need to have a system of checking on your progress to see how close (or far) you are from hitting your goals.
    • You will not be perfect at those goals, and the goals can change; but you want to know that as you are working your way through the plan
  • Celebrate!
    • We love to celebrate things here at CMLE Headquarters! So we encourage you to take some time at the of your strategic plan to celebrate the progress that you did make.
    • (Again: perfection is NOT our goal here – just celebrate the work you and everyone else did!)


We have links to a few different kinds of library strategic plans on our website for this episode; so feel free to browse around, and to Google up others that might be helpful!

Do you still feel uncertain about starting on a strategic plan? Contact us here at CMLE, and we can help you to get started on this, or we can do the entire strategic planning process for you!

  • No need to be a geographic member – we are here to help you wherever you are!


Now that we have looked at the theory of writing a plan – where things are always easy and flow so nicely, let’s talk with Kathy to find out the real story of doing strategic planning!


Guest Host Kathy Parker

Kathy has all kinds of information to share with us. And she graciously shared her own library’s strategic plan here.Library Strategic Plan 2016-18 It ties in with the strategic plan of their parent organization, as all good plans do; here the St. Benedict and St. John’s schools.



Books We are Reading

We are library people, and we love to read books! Check the books we read this week. (If you click on these links, you go to Amazon; if you buy anything – including these books – Amazon will give us a small percent of the money they make. Thanks for helping us!)


The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee  “From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?

Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.

Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.”


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach “Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries―panic, exhaustion, heat, noise―and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.”



Paranormalcy, by  Kiersten White “Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.”



Boundary Waters: A Novel (Cork O’Connor Mystery Series), by William Kent Krueger “The Quetico-Superior Wilderness: more than two million acres of forest, white-water rapids, and uncharted islands on the Canadian/American border. Somewhere in the heart of this unforgiving territory, a young woman named Shiloh — a country-western singer at the height of her fame — has disappeared. Her father arrives in Aurora, Minnesota, to hire Cork O’Connor to find his daughter, and Cork joins a search party that includes an ex-con, two FBI agents, and a ten-year-old boy. Others are on her trail as well — men hired not just to find her, but to kill her.

As the expedition ventures deeper into the wilderness, strangers descend on Aurora, threatening to spill blood on the town’s snowy streets. Meanwhile, out on the Boundary Waters, winter falls hard. Cork’s team of searchers loses contact with civilization, and like the brutal winds of a Minnesota blizzard, death — violent and sudden — stalks them.”



Planning is one of those things that only sounds scary until you get started. Then you can see how it all makes sense for your library. It gives you a road-map to follow, and it lets you know when to celebrate the great things you do! (It also gives you some time to help fix the stuff that goes wrong, because stuff ALWAYS goes wrong!) If you do not have one now, talk to us and let’s get started on your strategic plan!


Sample Plans

Sample plans: not necessarily perfect, but see how each could contribute to your own ideas about planning


30 Sample Vision Statements

50 Sample Mission Statements


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