Parts of a Strategic Plan

Strategic plans can take many forms. MBLC looks for the following elements to be included in a library's strategic plan.


A mission statement is a concise declaration of the purpose of an organization, the fundamental reason for its existence. It identifies its major service roles and user groups.

A vision statement is an uplifting and inspiring declaration of the organization's values and hopes, and what it wants to accomplish.

An assessment of user needs focuses on the unique needs of the community served by the library. It can include the following:

  • gathering of information based on an analysis of the population
  • results of surveys
  • a description of the library's existing services in relation to the community's needs

Libraries might want to look to their parent institution's strategic plans to see what needs have been identified for the broader community or school population.

In the context of a strategic plan, goals are broad statements describing desirable end results toward which the library will work over the long term, encompassing a vision of what services should be available. A goal is not measurable and may never be fully reached, but will probably not change over a 3-5 year period. Together with objectives, goals define a course of action for meeting the needs of a community.

Objectives are specific, short-range statements of results toward a specific goal. They define how it will be done, who will do it, and when and under what conditions. Unlike goals, objectives are measurable. They include time frames and may or may not change over a 3-5 year period, depending upon progress made.

The methodology should describe the specific processes used to create the plan (i.e., SOAR exercises, community visioning, etc.).

If you didn't use a particular process, this should include:

  • a description of what was done
  • who participated, and to what extent
  • how data was gathered, and what types of data were used
  • when the plan was developed

This is the assurance that your governing body has reviewed the contents of your plan and voted to accept it. Governing bodies vary depending on library type.

For public libraries, this is typically the board of trustees.
For school libraries, this could be the principal, superintendent, or school committee.
For academic libraries, this may be the dean, provost, or president.

You should review your strategic annually and create an action plan, listing activities that will take place during the following fiscal year to achieve the strategic plan's goals and objectives.

For More Information

Robert Favini (public libraries)
617-725-1860 x237
(in Massachusetts) 800-952-7403 x237

Kristi Chadwick (public libraries)
Massachusetts Library System
866-627-7228 x117

Michelle Eberle (public libraries)
Massachusetts Library System
866-627-7228 x305 

April Mazza (school libraries)
Massachusetts Library System
866-627-7228 x307