22 Hooksett Road, Auburn NH 03032, or PO Box 308 603-483-5374 (email@example.com) Hrs of Operation: Tues and Thurs 10-6, Wed 1-8, Fri 10-5, Sat 10-2
Griffin Free Public Library 2013-2016 Strategic Plan
Revision Dec. 5, 2014 (this update contains amendments as well as updates on the status of goals from the original plan)
In November and December of 2013, a committee convened to formulate a strategic plan for Griffin Free Public Library in Auburn, NH. The committee consisted of the members of the Board of Trustees of the library and the Library Director. In addition, the library staff and the public were invited to join the discussions for any or all meetings. In the end, eight different people contributed directly to the creation of this strategic plan.
In the initial meetings, it was discussed that Griffin Free Public Library had gone a significant time without a strategic plan. Therefore, the committee decided to cap the plan at three years in order to provide ample opportunity for revision or expansion based on the pace of implementation, and decided to reconvene each year to update and amend the plan in the light of subsequent accomplishments as well as local, community, and societal changes.
The Foundation of the Plan
The committee’s first task was to express a clear and concise description of what Griffin Free Public Library should be. This was expressed through three elements: a vision statement, a mission statement, and a list of core values:
A vision statement describes the social scenario that the library is motivated to help create.
A mission statement describes the primary purpose of the library.
Core values are ideals that guide library decisions and actions.
All three of these elements were discussed at length by the committee, as part of establishing a solid understanding of the library’s purpose and aims, and how the library fits into both the community and society.
Griffin Free Public Library Vision Statement
“A community enlightened by the love of learning, enriched by the pleasure of reading, and strengthened by access to information”
This statement expresses the world that Griffin Free Public Library hopes to help create, in which the library contributes to the lives of interested members of the community in a variety of ways.
Griffin Free Public Library Mission Statement
“GFPL is dedicated to providing the people of Auburn with access to materials and information through friendly and professional service, and by serving as a center for community activity.”
Griffin Free Public Library Core Values
Adaptability – The library must adapt to changes in the community, in the presentation of information, and in technology. We cannot always predict or know what innovations or new opportunities will arise, so we must remain open to embracing new ideas that will benefit the community and help us provide better service.
Community – The library works to remain a vital part of the community of Auburn. We give special attention to ways we can improve and serve the community in which we live and work.
Cooperation – The library seeks to forge and strengthen ties between groups and organizations that share similar missions and values. We strive to form partnerships and cooperative bonds that will bolster our ability to achieve our goals.
Learning – The library is dedicated to promoting lifelong learning for the people in our community. By providing and promoting books and other materials, and by hosting programs for users of all ages, we encourage a love of learning. Additionally, we emphasize this value by continually seeking opportunities to improve ourselves and the library through professional training and development.
Respect – As a public institution, the library appreciates that our services are available to all people, regardless of background and situation. We strive to respect people’s individual choices by providing excellent service to each person and honoring all individuals’ rights to privacy and free speech as it pertains to the use of the library.
Stewardship – The library recognizes the obligations that come with being funded by public money. We take very seriously the task of spending and budgeting wisely and using funds to benefit the people who provide them. We are also attentive to our obligation to effectively maintain the library’s collections of materials and the library itself, and actively seek input and feedback from the public whose interests we represent.
Having established these foundational items, the committee shifted into exploring the current situation of, and influences on, the library.
The State of the Library
In order to effectively evaluate the library, the committee underwent a SWOT analysis. This common evaluative instrument is named for the four findings it produces: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Identifying key elements in each of these categories would be informative in helping define goals – the third part of this plan – that would help the library progress toward the ideals stated in the first section. The SWOT analysis for Griffin Free Public Library was created through brainstorming sessions for each of the four components. Members of the strategic planning committee raised issues for each section, and the issues were discussed as a group. Items were included based on their accuracy and applicability.
The following table summarizes the SWOT analysis findings:
Personnel – staff knowledge, cooperation and teamwork, and attitude
Environment of flexibility
Technology – Koha (automated library system), griffinfree.com, active Facebook presence
Building – history and atmosphere, condition of physical materials (shelving, furniture, etc.)
Community – support from public and officials, book sale, central location, new Friends group
Patio and children’s room
Rainy-day funds (from book sales and gifts)
Building – overall size, parking lot (# of spaces), space for shelving and staff work areas, lack of building readiness for computing needs, circulation desk, odorous water, small meeting area, lack of proper book drop, lack of comfortable seating
No help for Board treasurer
Lack of trust funds for major projects
No dedicated IT support
Lack of teen-centered activities and opportunities
Public – positive view of libraries society-wide, increased use of libraries during down economic times, increased trends of “cable-cutting” and homeschooling, influx of new families into Auburn, fine-free
Very low cost/person for library services
Possibility of becoming a hub for community activity
Popularity of TV/movies (which the library provides on DVD)
Availability of grants
Local events in which the library can be involved (duck race, etc.)
Partnerships with other community organizations
Perception of library’s relevance to modern society
Competition for people’s time from other activities and life events
Difficulty in communicating with the public
Funding challenges in light of increased costs for both material goods and services
Geography of Auburn
Having this information helped the committee to grasp the current state of the library, and introduced a number of discussions that would continue in the final phase of the planning process. Once the SWOT analysis was complete, the committee entered that final phase – setting goals for the next three years. In order to facilitate this process, the mission and vision statements, core values, and SWOT analysis were put up in the meeting space for all to view during the remaining discussion sessions.
In setting goals for Griffin Free Public Library, the committee focused on remaining realistic, by making all goals both achievable (able to be achieved with reasonable effort and time) and measurable (producing an outcome that can be readily and easily measured). This combination best serves all parties, by promoting accountability and success, and by allowing the committee to easily determine the progress toward each goal in subsequent reviews and revisions of this plan.
The following list contains all goals set by the strategic plan committee, within categories established by the committee as focus areas.
1. Becoming a Community Hub
a. Establish homebound services to start by fall 2014.
By providing outreach services to members of the Auburn community unable to visit the library, we hope to promote goodwill and increased use of Griffin Free. This program will be organized and created in time for the turn of winter weather in fall of 2014, and will hopefully involve the recruitment of additional volunteers from within the community.
[Completed in November 2014, with ongoing review of the program.]
b. Book one program each month (for adults) from outside the library.
Frequently, library programs are attended well by people who rarely or never use the library otherwise. We feel strongly that we should be providing opportunities to learn, be entertained, and meet with others to all members of the Auburn community regardless of their level of use of the library. We hope that an increased number of programs with a wide appeal will draw more people into the use of Griffin Free, even if they are not taking books off the shelf.
c. Explore exhibit hosting during calendar year 2015 for later implementation.
In discussions, the committee noted that many members of the Auburn community are artists or skilled at crafts, or have other demonstrable skills that can be shared. We will be exploring during 2014 opportunities for hosting some of these talents by using the library as a means for display, exhibit, and showcase. These events would promote local achievement in a local setting, and provide a cultural and social opportunity for all.
2. Lifelong Learning and Enjoyment
a. Emphasize material displays with informational handouts during 2015 (previously was “Establish a series of reading/reference guides beginning in 2014”)
Using displays to highlight areas of the Griffin Free collection gives patrons an opportunity to interact with some books, movies, audios, and magazines that they might not see in their regular browsing. Thematic and focused displays can be enhanced by informational cards or fliers that provide interested users with links and names of additional sources on the topic that might be of interest. With regular rotation, this system will be able to reach almost all users of the library while touching on an extensive catalog of topics during the year.
b. Establish new book group in 2014, and keep track of existing group statistics
Finding like-minded people to share one’s interests is a great way for people to continue learning even well past the time of formal education. Currently, Griffin Free hosts only one book group, which is a general interest fiction group. A new book club, to be established in 2014, will likely focus on biographies, in order to draw in a new audience. Keeping closer statistics on the groups’ usage will help the library determine a path for future decisions about hosting and establishing groups of this type.
[Completed during 2014, revisions/improvements to come in 2015.]
c. Research reshelving of picture books during calendar year 2014
Lifelong learning is often taken to mean providing resources for older users. However, it is equally important that the library provide for our very young users. This research effort will attempt to find a way to organize and store the library’s collection of picture books and early reader books that would allow young children a better chance to find their own interests. The current organization – by author’s last name – is not intuitive to young children and prevents them from finding books on topics they like without a great deal of assistance from parents or other adults.
[Initial steps taken during 2014, completion of project scheduled for spring 2015.]
d. Clean up and organize the museum displays in the library over the next 2 years.
One frequently overlooked element of Griffin Free Public Library is the presentation and storage of museum pieces, as required by the documents that established the library. Although many pieces are displayed nicely with identifying cards, many other items are in storage or not immediately visible to visitors. It is our desire to emphasize the importance of the museum collection by making the displays vivid and interesting, and placing them strategically throughout the library. Additionally, the museum stock currently in storage needs to be categorized and organized to ensure that items remain viable for future display.
a. Research the creation and acquisition of a new library logo in time for 2015 budget preparation
“Branding” is an important marketing technique that connects users with a particular company or service provider. In the case of Griffin Free, the existing logo is outdated, lacks color, and fails to convey any message about what Griffin Free does for users. Additionally, the library has been without existing stationery, business cards, and other basic paper materials – all of which benefit from the use of a logo – for some time. It is hoped that a modern and eye-catching logo can be acquired and used to boost the visibility of Griffin Free throughout Auburn and the surrounding area.
[Completed ahead of schedule, in summer of 2014.]
b. Research town-wide survey options (previously was “Send a town-wide mailer with invitation to the library’s Open House event in March 2014”)
In the past 3 years, Griffin Free has undergone significant changes – with more to come! However, it can be difficult to convey that message to the people in Auburn, many of whom commute outside the town each day, live in an area of town that rarely brings them by the library, and/or are not active in seeking information through the Town Crier or Internet. We hope to gather information from the people of Auburn through professional and strategic survey work, which will provide a foundation for future strategic planning and decision making.
c. Establish marketing assistant duties and train on local outlets and procedures by the end of 2014
When Griffin Free holds a program, event, or presentation – whether for children, adults, or both – our goal is to bring in as many people as possible. In order to do this, we utilize our own website and Facebook page as well as signage around town and in the Town Crier. However, we also recognize the need to advertise more widely, such as in the Hippo, the Hooksett Banner, and in local radio or on other websites. Contacting all of these outlets in the appropriate timeframe can be a consuming process. By establishing a marketing assistant, these duties can be delegated, freeing additional time for the director and/or children’s librarian to focus on the event itself and other duties.
[Initial training done in 2014, additional duties and focus to be added in 2015.]
a. Establish a plan during calendar year 2015 for future hosting of mobile devices
Increasingly, libraries across the country are starting to provide library-friendly mobile devices (tablets and e-readers) to their patrons. The methods for doing this, however, are vast and varied. Griffin Free would like to be able to provide this service, but much work remains to be done in order to establish priorities for which devices to acquire and how to allow their use without incurring too much risk or financial burden. Establishing a mobile device plan will allow the Board and director to make an informed and intelligent decision rather than simply jumping on the bandwagon for these devices.
b. Acquire at least one new online-accessible database each year for the next 3 years
In 2013, Griffin Free Public Library subscribed to eSequels, an online database that allows users to explore fiction series. In order to appeal to users who cannot or will not frequently visit the library, we hope to increase our offerings of this type that can be accessed from home or mobile Internet-accessible devices.
[Due to lack of viability, this goal has been tabled for the present time.]
c. Acquire and measure use of a public-use laptop computer for 1 year
With limited space available for setting up traditional desktop computers, this goal will provide the opportunity to explore whether offering a more “home-based” computer experience is inviting to users. A laptop computer would allow someone to work in an area of the library where they feel comfortable. Since we are unsure whether this arrangement will be popular, we are limiting the initial outlay as we measure to determine if this method of public computing is a viable trend.
[Laptop acquired in late 2014; testing and preparation underway as of December 2014.]
d. Create full tech plan by August 2015
Technology continues to find its way into every corner of the library’s day-to-day world. Maintaining this technology can prove costly if not done systematically and purposefully. In order to better accommodate the library’s need to plan and budget strategically, we will formulate a full technology plan. The plan will include a schedule for maintenance, repair, and replacement of existing technology (computers, printers, copy machine, telephones, security system, and all accompanying software) as well as examinations and plans for accommodating new advances in the future. This will help prevent the library being caught off-guard by unexpected expenses and ensure that the library remains fully prepared to meet the needs of staff and users alike.
5. Physical Space
a. Research and establish funding streams within 3 years for renovation of circulation room (was previously “replacement of circulation desk”)
Griffin Free has a significant space problem. Currently, there are four (non-restroom) public rooms in the building. One of those four is almost entirely taken up by the circulation (or service) desk. In order to introduce additional public use space, we will be exploring options for altering or dismantling the current desk and acquiring a new, smaller one. This is expected to be a relatively expensive effort, so three years are being provided to explore options and find funding for the work.
[Initial inquiry to furnishing company complete. Waiting on cost analysis as of December 2014.]
b. Investigate parking expansion options during 2015
The library’s space problem extends even to the exterior of the building. The library officially has only five parking spaces. Especially when programs draw crowds of 20 or more people, parking becomes a serious issue; however, with two staff members parked in the lot most days, even routine visits can become troublesome for those seeking a place to park. Various options will be explored in order to accommodate additional visitors to the library without compromising the feel and atmosphere of the library and surrounding areas.
c. Develop additional comfortable seating areas in the library over the next two years
Another result of the space limitations is a lack of quality, comfortable seating areas for people looking to read, study, or work in the library. In many libraries, these types of areas provide visitors a reason to linger and feel comfortable in the library. We hope to enhance Griffin Free’s ability to provide that feeling to Auburn residents by finding niches within the building in which comfortable seating and work spaces can be installed. This will be an ongoing project as budget and space permits over the life of this strategic plan.
d. Evaluate patio furnishing options in time for spring 2014
The new patio, built as an Eagle Scout project, looks to be an inviting place for people to enjoy the library during nice weather. However, it currently sits bare, without even a bench or table. In order to take advantage of the patio’s first full year, we will explore what options we have for making the patio a place to relax and enjoy a book (and maybe lunch) in the beautiful outdoors.
[Completed in July 2014.]