New Strategic Plan for Seattle's libraries prioritizes services and resources for next generation of readers
A new Strategic Plan that charts the future course for growth and services at The Seattle Public Library was unanimously adopted by the Library's board of trustees at its meeting Feb. 23.
The plan is the culmination of yearlong process to determine new priorities for serving the next generation of Seattle readers. The previous plan, Libraries for All, focused on rebuilding and renewing Library buildings.
"The world is changing around us," said Library Board President Marie McCaffrey. "The Library must change with it."
The plan incorporates what the Library heard at community open houses, citywide forums and focus groups, as well as the results of a Community Survey. Nearly 33,000 people completed the 29-question survey - the equivalent of 5 percent of the city population. The Library Board also received regular input from an advisory committee and Library staff.
"It was clear from this process that Seattle residents love the Library and care about its future," McCaffrey said. "While some may argue about the relevancy of libraries in the digital age, Seattle's libraries are here to stay."
Seattle's public libraries are heavily used. More than 11 million items were circulated last year and over 14 million people visited the Library. "Seattle libraries are solid anchors in their communities," McCaffrey said. "Seattle's Library system is a powerful force in the city and a leader among urban public libraries."
The Seattle Public Library was among the first public libraries to offer free downloadable music and a mobile app. Its growing digital media collection of more than 75,000 e-books, videos, music recordings and audiobooks is one of the largest of any public library in the nation.
While access to resources through technology is an important part of the Strategic Plan, McCaffrey emphasized that The Seattle Public Library "will continue to strongly support the book. We heard this loud and clear from many of our patrons." She noted that the Library founded the renowned citywide reading program, "Seattle Reads," which has been replicated around the world. The Library regularly hosts free public programs with national award-winning authors.
McCaffrey said the Library Board is passionate about where the Library is headed with the new Strategic Plan because it provides "a vision of success for every resident in Seattle."
She said adoption of the plan now was critical because the Library Board is currently recruiting a new city librarian. Former City Librarian Susan Hildreth was tapped by President Barack Obama to head the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Lin Schnell, human resources director, is serving as the Library's interim chief executive officer.
"The new Strategic Plan is the community's plan for how it wants to see the Library directing services and resources," McCaffrey said. The Strategic Plan focuses on five goals:
- Fuel Seattle's Passion for Reading, Personal Growth and Learning
- Expand Seattle's Access to Information, Ideas and Stories
- Empower Seattle's Distinctive Communities and Vibrant Neighborhoods
- Build Partnerships to Make a Difference in People's Lives
- Foster an Organizational Culture of Innovation.
McCaffrey said the Library will use the plan to think creatively around services and outreach. "There is a lot in the plan the community will be excited about," she said. "There is an emphasis on partnerships, building community around books and leading the nation in free access to digital media."
McCaffrey stressed that in order to accomplish these goals, the Library needs the community's help. "This plan is not just about what The Seattle Public Library will do," she said. "This is Seattle's plan. Find your place in the plan. See where you fit in and we will have a way for you to be part of the Library's new Vision for Seattle: 'Where imagination and opportunity thrive.'
"The plan's success involves capturing all the resources we have at hand. Through this plan, we provide educational opportunities for every resident in the city and fulfill our new Mission, to 'bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community.' "
The public can access the entire Strategic Plan from the Library website: www.spl.org.
For more information contact:
Andra Addison, communications director
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