A New Strategic Plan

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. 

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.

About Our Strategic Direction

The Library’s Strategic Direction is designed to help us achieve positive outcomes and lasting impacts in individual lives and throughout our community, and to ensure we have the right tools, resources and organizational structure to support that work.

Strategic Direction 2020 - 2022

Guiding Principles

  • Support intellectual freedom
  • Promote literacy and love of reading
  • Center and advance racial equity
  • Protect confidentiality of patron records
  • Respect and embrace the entire community
  • Foster a healthy democracy
  • Support children, youth and families
  • Form strong partnerships
  • Adapt and innovate

Areas of Focus

Program of Service

Individual Growth

Deliver core Library services to support individual needs. Every patron who comes through our doors can expect to find robust collections, welcoming and comfortable libraries, effective staff assistance, compelling programs, and a wide range of technology resources.

For each individual we serve, we will provide opportunities for individual growth in the following four areas:

  • Access: Making sure the public has access to all that we offer. This means encouraging everyone to get Library cards, providing great collections that serve every age and making sure patrons have access to staff, resources, programs and services.
  • Civic Engagement: Providing opportunities via programming and outreach to allow the public to engage around topics that impact our city and are of interest to them and their communities.
  • Cultural Enrichment: Providing learning opportunities through programming and outreach that support cultural understanding and awareness.
  • Literacy, Learning and Achievement: Providing assistance to support the personal pursuit of educational, informational and recreational interests for formative and lifelong learning.

Examples of programs for individual growth:

Areas of Impact

Community Impact

Achieve lasting community impacts. We have focused on these Service Priorities for the last several years and we want to keep it going to ensure we make a difference community-wide in the following five areas:

  • Youth and Family Learning: Provide Library services that support youth and families in academic success, career readiness and life.
  • Technology and Access: Serve as Seattle's primary point of access to information, lifelong learning, economic development and creative expression through innovative use of technology and digital resources.
  • Community Engagement: Offer Library programs, services, and collections that reflect community needs and interests, feature community voices, and create meaningful experiences.
  • Seattle Culture and History: Connect our community with our diverse local culture and history through compelling collections, expert assistance, innovative partnerships and engaging programs.
  • Re-Imagined Spaces: Adapt and energize Library spaces for new uses in keeping with changing services, programs, interests and needs of Library users and the changing ways that they use Library spaces.

Examples of programs for community impact:

Business Model

Institutional Performance

Build the internal infrastructure necessary for the Library's institutional success. This work will provide us the tools and resources needed to make better decisions and more nimbly respond to community concerns. We will focus on the following five business model areas:

  • Workforce Capacity and Development: Determining the future work of libraries and using that information to provide the training staff will need, and recruiting employees for new areas of work where additional support is required.
  • Data and Metrics: Improving our data systems to better collect data and use statistics to make informed decisions about what the Library should or should not do.
  • Long-Term Sustainability: Ensuring the Library has the financial resources to support its current work and future growth.
  • Race and Social Justice: Ensuring our staffing, work and services are designed to eliminate barriers to access, provide public and staff opportunities for growth, and develop and support equitable access to the programs and services we offer.
  • Strategic Communications: Marketing and promoting strategically the Library's programs and services to ensure awareness and use of the Library, and to support the role and value of the Library to our community.

Examples of institutional performance: