Planning for the Future
Chief Librarian Tom Fay is leading the development of a new strategic plan for The Seattle Public Library in 2023 that will reflect the current and anticipated needs and interests of the community. The plan is expected to identify near-term goals and objectives for the next 1-3 years and longer-term goals and objectives for the next 4-10 years.
A new strategic plan
The development of a new strategic plan began in 2022 with Fay conducting listening sessions to hear directly from patrons. The Library then began working with a strategic foresight consultant to identify the plausible future scenarios our system and our community may face, and the future scenarios we prefer to work toward.
Because community engagement is at the heart of our work, the Library’s new strategic plan will be informed by patrons, community partners, Library staff and other stakeholders.
Current strategic direction: 2017-2022 guiding document
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.
Strategic foresight: What does the future hold?
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. Strategic Foresight is a process that helps identify plausible future scenarios organizations may face so they can to more effectively plan and prepare for what lies ahead.
The Library invited our community into this work by reaching out to 60+ partner organizations and asking them to provide feedback in various ways, including through an online survey, multiple in-person workshops and small group interviews.
Guided by experts from Houston Foresight, the Library spent six months working to envision likely future scenarios that will impact our community and our work. As part of this process, Library staff, community members, and other stakeholders discussed the potential future impacts of climate change, political and social tensions, income inequality and larger economic trends, new and evolving technologies, and other issues to help identify challenges and opportunities we will likely face in the next 10 years.
Building on this foundation, the Library will collaborate with a strategic planning firm in 2023 to develop a new plan representing our collective vision for the future and our near and long-term goals and priorities.
Strategic planning 2023
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 work began in early 2023 and the new draft plan is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The Library will continue to engage the public and other Library stakeholders throughout the year in the development of this plan. You can bookmark this page or follow our Twitter or Facebook accounts to learn about future ways to get involved and help shape the future of the Library.
Community Conversations: What we heard
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.