The Libraries Regulation requires boards to have a current plan of service, including a mission statement, goals and objectives, based on a community needs assessment.
A plan of service is more than a legal requirement, it:
- is a great tool for managing a library
- helps a board to govern at a strategic level
- aligns the library with the community and helps increase use
- builds community support and helps fundraising and advocacy
- helps a library measure its success and identify improvements
Creating a plan of service
Library boards are responsible for planning and they can choose the approach that works best for their situations.
We highly recommend a process called Strategic Planning for Results, defined in the book by Sandra Nelson, published in 2008 by the American Library Association. This approach is:
- designed specifically for public libraries, by leading library professionals
- focused on the community and community needs
- straightforward and easy to follow, with detailed instructions
It includes a simple and easy community needs assessment that meets legal requirements, and it defines library service responses that fill community needs.
Library professionals throughout Alberta have been trained in Strategic Planning for Results and they can help your library develop a plan.
Staff from the Public Library Services Branch and the library systems can deliver training and get you started. Facilitators are available for public needs assessment meetings.
Planning for results
- Service Planning for Alberta Libraries: A Guide and Workbook – This workbook summarizes the book Strategic Planning for Results and includes document templates and forms.
- Strategic Planning for Results: A One Page Description (PDF, 32 KB)
- Tasks and steps in the Planning for Results process (PDF, 34 KB)
Worksheets and templates
- Responding to the Community: A sample library board meeting agenda (DOC, 34 KB) for after the first (or only) community meeting. It helps a library board respond to the community group's recommendations.
- Goal writing templates: This Goals template (DOCX, 16 KB) from Lac La Biche and this Goal Worksheet (DOC, 49 KB) from Strategic Planning for Results will help you write goals based on your selected service responses.
- Objective writing templates: This Objectives template (DOCX, 17 KB) from Lac La Biche and this Objective Worksheet (DOC, 73 KB) from Strategic Planning for Results will help you write objectives that put your goals into action.
- Picking Library Services that Respond to Community Needs – Worksheet (DOC, 31 KB): Use this form in your public meetings to have participants pick service responses that respond to community needs.
- Communication Plan (DOC, 39 KB): This worksheet will help you write a communication plan at the beginning of the process.
- Community Vision (DOC, 37 KB): Use this worksheet in your public meetings to help the group formulate a vision for the ideal future community.
- Select Planning Committee Members (DOC, 43 KB): This worksheet will help your board choose the people it wants to invite to determine community needs and library service responses.
- Library SWOT Analysis (DOC, 34 KB): This worksheet will help community planning committee members to identify the community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Strategic Planning for Results workshop
The following are materials for delivering the 4.5-hour Strategic Planning for Results workshop developed by Sandra Nelson for Alberta libraries.
The slideshow notes explain the slideshow for the trainer delivering the workshop. Print and distribute the handout to all workshop attendees.
- Slideshow: Strategic Planning for Results in Your Library (PPT, 22.1 MB)
- Slideshow notes (PDF, 2.9 MB)
- Handout: Planning for the Future (PDF, 104 KB)
Sample plans of service
- Elnora Public Library Plan of Service (PDF, 456 KB) for a village with a population under 500.
- Hay Lakes Municipal Library Plan of Service (PDF, 2.5 MB) and Hay Lakes Library Plan of Service Pamphlet (PDF, 510 KB) for a village of about 425 people.
- Rocky Mountain House Public Library Plan of Service (PDF, 792 KB) for a community of about 7,000 that incorporates statistics in a graphic format.
- Stony Plain Public Library Plan of Service (PDF, 478 KB) for a community of about 15,000 people.
- Yellowhead County Library Board Plan of Service (PDF, 337 KB) for a rural county with multiple service points.