Version 1.0: The Seattle Public Library's Strategic Plan Framework

In the 2019 Library Levy, funds were included to study the future of library work. As a result, the Library contracted with strategic foresight consultant Houston Foresight (University of Houston) in 2022 to lay the foundation for development of a long-term strategic plan.

The Library has hired the strategic planning firm Territory North America, Inc to help engage the community and provide project management expertise to assist in the development of our new strategic plan.

This strategic plan framework document provides members of the public a preview of key elements expected in the Library's new 10-year strategic plan. A final strategic plan document is expected to be published for public review and consideration by the Library Board of Trustees in Q1 2024. The Library’s in-development strategic plan is informed through engagement with Library patrons, dozens of community-based organizations serving Library patrons, hundreds of Library staff, and over 1,700 survey respondents in 13 languages.

This framework document highlights the Library’s core mission, its vision for the City of Seattle, and the values that will guide our work into the future. It also outlines the areas of impact the Library will prioritize over the next ten years. This document does not contain specific actions the Library will take or resources we will need to achieve our stated impact goals, as these elements are currently under consideration and will be presented in the final plan document expected in early 2024.

Current strategic direction: 2017-2022 guiding document

Strategic direction

The Library’s current Strategic Direction is a guiding document designed to help benefit individual lives; achieve positive, lasting outcomes in our community; and ensure we have the right tools, resources and organizational structure to realize these goals. The document was originally developed in 2017 and renewed in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly changed our community and the work of the Library. To ensure Library programs and services continue to meet the needs of our community, the Library is taking a deeper look at current conditions and what the future may hold in order to develop a longer-term strategic plan.

Community Conversations: What we heard

Community conversations

In 2022, Chief Librarian Tom Fay visited the Greenwood, High Point, Lake City and Rainier Beach branches to hear from patrons on what is working well for them and what could use improvement. Fay wanted to hear, in particular, how the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed their needs or experiences as Library patrons.

The Library also made a public survey available for people who were unable to attend these events in person.

Fay will host more conversations in 2023 as the Library’s strategic plan is being developed to hear more from patrons about what they would like to see included in the Library’s plan.