Strategically Planning Our Future

Strategically Planning Our Future

Message from Karen Franklin, Director of Library Services, SDG Library

“Strategic Planning is a process for making informed decisions that shape and guide the essence of what an organization is, what it does for whom, and what it could and should be in the future. Strategic Planning is a collective and big picture effort…that clarifies the library's future direction and ensures day-to-day activities serve strategic and long-term goals.”

These words are borrowed from the Ontario Library Service (OLS). At the SDG Library, we are carefully considering them, as we are currently undertaking a formal strategic planning process. In the past, we have sough help from the OLS in setting the stage for “creating the future [we’ve] imagined” (their term!), which we then used to write a “Strat Plan” ourselves, with modest success; we came up with a great Mission Statement though – Connect. Create. Explore. We learned then that planning a future – and creating a course of action that is both visionary and practical – is challenging and difficult, and that doing all the work necessary to do so ourselves was perhaps biting off more than we could chew!

This time around, we are working with Laridae Communications, a consulting firm from Peterborough, to help us with the “heavy lifting” activities that are involved in the strategic planning process.

First and foremost, we have asked our (Library) community what you need and want from us to enrich your life. We have widely distributed an online public survey throughout SDG, and we have provided print versions to anyone who preferred to respond that way, via our fifteen branch locations. I am writing this article on the closing of the survey, and I thank everyone who took the time to complete it. We care about what you have to say!

And, we have asked key individuals to weigh in on what they imagine our future could look like – informed, active and respected people like local MP Eric Duncan. Eric sees the social landscape with wide lens these days, but he has also sat on our Library Board; he was previously involved in navigating the SDG Library through some rough waters to find cost-effective and community-focussed ways to enhance the provision of library services. We are grateful that Eric – and other “key informants” – took time to assist in the community engagement part of this planning process.

We are also talking with our staff – what do we need as a team, to be able to carry out a course of action that meets the public’s needs and wants? Over the last couple of years, we have been challenged to come up with very different ways to deliver library services and provide reliable access to what we have to offer – our “resources”. From our perspective, our staff is our most important and valuable resource, and each staff member’s well-being is paramount; we know that good customer service is an important factor in what we do, so we are looking at what our staff needs in this future that we’re envisioning. That’s where we are right now…

Next steps will include a report presentation from Laridae, who coordinated and conducted the community engagement exercises just completed, at an upcoming Library Board “retreat”, at which time ideas should emerge that will become part of our next Strategic Plan. Laridae and the Board will then draft a planning document, which will see us continue to innovate, grow as organization, and deliver topnotch public library services over the next several years. That Plan will connect us all, create an imaginative future, and explore all that we have here in SDG. Once completed, we will be sure to share it with you!