Library looks ahead with survey, strategic plan

Lewistown Public Library Director KellyAnne Terry hopes public comment can help shape the library’s next strategic plan.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

Lewistown Public Library is looking into the future, but they aren’t using a crystal ball. Instead, the institution is crafting its own fate with a new three-year strategic plan.

Library Director KellyAnne Terry helped create the first three-year plan in 2012. Before that, the library followed a 10-year plan, which Terry felt wasn’t quite the right format for the nonprofit.

“Ten years is way too long,” she said. “Three years is more manageable, and way more can be done. We especially knew that the changes in technology would be significant, and we wanted to be current and relevant.”

The three-year timeline worked well, so with the first one expired, Terry and the library’s Board of Trustees are drafting another three-year strategic plan.

Like its predecessor, the plan will use the library’s mission statement to create several big-picture objectives. Each objective will be followed by a list of activities and goals that can help achieve the statement.

Terry summarized it as a roadmap for what the Lewistown Public Library wants to accomplish in the next three years.

“These are the outcomes we want at the end of this time period,” she explained. “This [plan] just says, ‘This is what success looks like.’”

Groundwork for the plan began this spring with Terry’s research efforts. While the new document will be based off its predecessor, Terry is also referencing personal experience with other organizations and the strategic plans of other libraries, such as Montana State University Library.

There is one key difference in this plan, at least for Terry.

“One thing we’re really stressing this time around is lots of community input, and that doesn’t mean just the people who use the library every day,” she said.

To ensure such a wide reach, the Lewistown Public Library is using an online survey to gather public comment. An email with the link went out mid-November, and Terry plans to keep the survey open until at least after Christmas.

“I’ve had people take the survey who haven’t even been in the building,” she said.

To gather more public input, Terry wants to create a focus group from member and non-members in the spring.

“This whole process is meant to address the community’s need, and reflect them in what we do,” she said.

It’s a concept important to the library’s Board of Trustees, too. Chair Mary Frieze sees the idea as one way to keep the library in pace with Central Montana.

“I think library’s shouldn’t stay complacent,” she said.

The strategic plan is discussed at most meetings, according to Frieze, and the board will continue discussing it as the new plan is drafted. She said the board does not have any specific objectives in mind, but is looking in a certain direction.

“I can’t say that we have any exact things we’re pushing for, but generally the Board believes the library has a large role to play in the community, and being engaged in the community,” she said.

Frieze pointed to things such programs for all ages and the library’s outreach to elderly patrons. Technology is also important to her, as well as a continued effort to build up the Lewistown Public Library as a Central Montana institution.

“The library, on their website, is working towards supplying community information and links to community resources,” she said.

Terry is looking to mix Board comments such as Frieze’s with those of library staff and community members to create the next strategic plan.

“We’re hoping to have it done by March 2018,” she said.

 

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