Strategic planning for your library – some ideas and inspiration

When it comes to your library’s strategic vision, it can always be helpful to get a little inspiration from what other libraries are doing. 

To help you to create a meaningful strategic plan, we’ve put together a list of some great examples of library strategies from around the world (and from different types of libraries). 

We’ve prioritised those that are short and digestible (because everyone’s busy!), readable (because sometimes we’re tired) and collaborative (because it just makes things better).

This is not, of course, a definitive list but it will hopefully provide some examples that will make you think about different ways of writing and presenting your library’s strategic goals. 

New York’s Brooklyn Library is often at the forefront of library innovation and they describe their mission as ‘something profoundly important to democracy, fairness, equality, and even basic human decency.’ Their strategic plan from 2022-2024 Finding Level Ground encompasses objectives that came out of the shared experiences of the past two years, including the Covid-19 pandemic and a great deal of social and political upheaval. 

The core strategy of the State Library of New South Wales 2019-2023 plan is ‘to turn the Library inside out to fully face and serve our community’ and ‘to make a library where you don’t need to fit in to belong’. It’s an example of a really concise plan, underpinned by the questions ‘What are we here to do?’ and ‘Where is the library headed?’.

Decorative drawing of a lightbulb

Law Library Victoria consulted with their community of legal professionals to ensure their plan met the needs of their users. The 2020-2025 strategy is built around five ‘strategic priorities’ which are set out in a nicely designed PDF that has clear, colour-coded graphics. 

The National Library of Finland’s vision is to ‘strengthen our society’s knowledge base’, and to place Bildung (edification, education or intellectual and moral cultivation) at the heart of society. To achieve this they have identified four areas for development in their ten-year plan to 2030. The areas focus on sharing cultural heritage, being at the heart of the academic community, knowledge and learning, and fostering collaborative networks.

In their five-year The Library Towards 2025 plan, Lancaster University Library have set out the kind of library they will be in a series of behaviours, actions and achievements in  five key areas. These are supported by 29 ‘vision outcomes’ that they will work towards. These outcomes range from digital scholarship and open access to community engagement and sustainability.

Building the Department Store for the Soul is the title of Suffolk Librariesstrategy for 2022-2024 with ‘departments’ that support well-being and mental health. The five page PDF is built around three ‘pillars’ and is beautifully illustrated. There’s a summary of the aims of the previous plan and a clear explanation of what has changed and why, which adds to the transparency.  

The University of Johannesburg strategic plan 2025 is described as a ‘living document that guides and frames its activities at all levels of the organisation.’  It’s structured around five strategic objectives that provide a ‘roadmap to achieving UJ’s vision’. The plan is reviewed annually and by the executive leadership. 

Bodleian Libraries Strategy 2022-2027 is structured around three key aims, which are each broken down into five sections. Each has a ‘suggested implementation plan objective’ that leaves room for the plan to adapt to current needs. The guiding principles for staff in delivering the strategy is a nice touch too. 

We hope this small collection of examples will persuade you that future strategising doesn’t have to be dull. Whether it’s a one-page framework, a living document or a colourful department store, looking at what others have created can help you to make your library’s strategy into something inspiring and dynamic that will ensure your library serves the needs of your colleagues and users into the future. 

If your library has a strategic plan that’s out of the ordinary, or you’ve seen one that’s caught your eye, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. And we will continue to update this list as we encounter other interesting library strategies.