Kalamazoo residents look to the library to provide a wide range of free services that help to create a community where people aspire to learn, engage, and thrive—as we vow in the library’s mission statement. In these tough economic times, people are using KPL's services more than ever, even as the library must cut costs to meet declining revenue.
In the past two years, KPL has reduced energy use; delayed equipment purchases; trimmed funds for materials; dropped positions and reassigned work following retirements and resignations; and retired the bookmobile.
A generous anonymous gift allowed KPL to take advantage of technological advances that will increase library efficiency, helping us to absorb work being reassigned after eliminating more than six positions (FTE). Read more...
Those measures are no longer enough—KPL must now weigh the cost and effectiveness of all library services in regards to the entire community’s needs.
View the Strategic Plan
To facilitate this evaluation, KPL engaged Sandra Nelson, a nationally known and highly regarded library strategic planner, to help us consider current, anticipated, and possible future community needs—then determine which of those needs KPL can address.
Ms. Nelson outlines this method in her book, Strategic Planning for Results, based on a set of 18 service responses (PDF) a library might offer its community. The Public Library Association (PLA) created this list of possible services in 1987; they’ve been updated and revised several times, most recently in 2007.
1. Excellence must be defined locally.
Communities face different needs and challenges—one size doesn't fit all.
2. Excellence is possible for both small and large libraries.
Success depends more upon commitment than on unlimited resources.
3. Excellence is a moving target.
Even when achieved, excellence must be continually maintained.
To launch the strategic planning process, KPL sought input on community needs and challenges from library staff, managers, trustees, and the public, through a group of community representatives, selected because their professional and/or volunteer work engenders a deep understanding of a section of the community: education, medical and human services, business and economic development, civic and political, arts and culture, ethnic, religious, and other segments.
The community group reviewed an information packet (PDF) provided by the library and listened to the library director describe KPL’s history, capacity and potential. Ms. Nelson guided the group through a number of exercises, first to define a shared vision for Kalamazoo’s future, then to identify community strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to that vision. As a final step, the group discussed the 18 PLA service responses and KPL’s potential contribution.
Library staff, managers, and trustees then responded to the group’s input. After significant deliberation and discussion, the library selected five primary library services that reflect local priorities and best utilize KPL’s strengths. The final Strategic Plan helps us more effectively plan for the future. We now examine every potential collection, service, and programs to determine if it meets the five overarching services, goals and specific objectives that will guide KPL’s work through the next three years.