Strategic Planning in Library Programs

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are a library media specialist at a school, you might benefit from creating a strong strategic plan. This lesson discusses what strategic planning can look like in the school library context.

Understanding Strategic Planning

Sophie is so excited to be involved in the Marble Elementary School library this year. As library media specialist, she has been tasked with starting the library's new strategic planning, a process that can last 3-5 years.

Sophie knows that a strategic plan is a systematic map of goals and objectives over time. Her library's strategic plan will cover the next four years of library work, setting broader goals that they will work toward, and mapping out the work needed in order to accomplish these goals.

Sophie believes, that a good strategic plan, can make all the difference in her library's functioning because everyone who works with her will have a clear sense of purpose, and mission. A strategic plan can guide circulation and selection policies, library curriculum, and technology acquisition, among other things. At the same time, she knows that developing a strategic plan is hard work and will require a lot of thought and effort.


First, Sophie knows that there are many other people she will want to collaborate, or work together with, in order to optimize the strategic plan. She knows that it is especially crucial to collaborate with other stakeholders, people who are interested in the work, and outcomes, of the library.

Some of the people Sophie collaborates with, in making her plan, include administrators, classroom teachers at her school, a committee of parents, and even a committee of students.

Collaboration looks different depending on the group. Sophie meets regularly with a planning leadership committee, but she incorporates the opinions of others by using data from surveys and interviews.

This collaboration allows Sophie to construct a vision for the library that takes seriously a wide variety of needs and interests, and she is proud of what they are coming up with.


Sophie knows that it is important to communicate with her collaborators about progress toward the strategic plan, but she also wants the planning process to be transparent, and accessible to, the school community overall.

After discussing this with her principal, Sophie understands that communication about the strategic plan should be professional and systematic in nature. She sends a monthly electronic bulletin to the school community with updates on the strategic plan, and information about how the plan is impacting the daily operations of the library.

Sophie also sends this information to district administrators, and other school librarians in her district, all of whom appreciate her transparency.


When it comes to the actual content of Sophie's strategic plan, she knows that it is especially important to align her plans and goals, with the district's mission and vision, as well as the mission and vision of Marble Elementary.

For example, Sophie's district has a strong mission of closing the achievement gap for underserved students. Sophie makes it part of her library's strategic plan to survey underserved families about their library needs, and incorporate results into the plan.

She also knows that she should align her strategic plan with the curricular goals of the school. For example, the third, fourth and fifth-grade teachers, have a new goal associated with teaching students to read nonfiction more effectively.

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