Deep Roots, New Growth: A Community-Focused Library
The Orange County Public Library (OCPL) is developing a three-year strategic plan for the library’s future. Learn more about our process by viewing the presentation below:
The process began in October 2012 with a community needs assessment that included an online survey, interviews with community leaders, and public forums to clarify community priorities and identify unmet needs.
Community Needs Assessment
Community analysis is the foundation of responsible library decisions – both short- and long- term. To build facilities and collections, and create services and programs that are responsive to the needs and expectations of the community, librarians must understand not only the community but also their own libraries.
This is why the Orange County Public Library (OCPL) conducted the community needs assessment in the lead-up to developing a three-year strategic plan. The information-gathering segment of Deep Roots – New Growth: A Community-Focused Library answered the following types of questions:
- How is the community changing in regards to socioeconomic status, demographics, employment trends, and development plans?
- What organizations and programs in the community might the library consider as partners for future endeavors?
- Who uses the library and why?
- Who does not use the library and why?
- What additional services or programs might better meet the needs of segments of the community?
- To what extent are the current library programs/ services successful and useful?
- Are the physical facilities adequate for providing the types of library services needed by county residents?
- What types of materials and information would best meet the community’s needs and wants?
- What are the community’s expectations regarding the library for the future?
- Are staffing patterns and library hours adequately meeting the needs of the community?
The answers to these questions enable library administration to better understand and be more fully aware of community needs. In turn, OCPL priorities and goals can be set that will integrate the library into the community’s vision for the future.
The next step in creating a robust and community-focused strategic plan is to evaluate the information and perspectives collected in the needs assessment. Identifying common themes, needs and wants from the community determine the strategic plan’s trajectory and priorities.
With input from library staff and various members of the public, the initial information gleaned in the OCPL community needs assessment is then distilled to identify potential:
- vision and mission statements
- organizational values and core competencies
- goals and objectives
Once these components of the strategic plan are narrowed down, a draft strategic plan is created. Another round of county input is required to evaluate whether the draft versions of the vision and mission statements, organizational values and core competencies, and goals and objectives, reflect the community’s needs and vision for the library.
After receiving public feedback on the draft version of the strategic plan, OCPL and its consultant will be able to create a final draft for presentation to the Board of County Commissioners.