Parts of a Strategic Plan

Strategic plans can take many forms. While libraries may include more information, the MBLC only needs the following elements to be included in a library's strategic plan in order for it to be approved.


A mission statement is a concise declaration of the purpose of an organization. It specifies the fundamental reason for its existence and identifies its major service roles and the major user groups at which they are directed.

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

Libraries may include both but only one is required.

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 or focus groups
  • 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, institution or school population.

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. They are not measurable and may or may not actually be reached during the plan’s duration. Goals are essentially core areas of service and library operations. Sometimes goals can go by another name, such as service responses. Libraries may find it useful to break down goals further into objectives and actions but are not required to do so.

The methodology should identify the specific processes used to create the plan.

If the library did not use a specific process, this section should include:

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

Libraries should list the date the plan was approved by their governing body. 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.

For More Information

To learn about the strategic plan approval process, contact:

Robert Favini
617-725-1860 x237
857-488-6590 (Mobile)

To learn about strategic planning resources or training, contact:

Oscar Lanzo-Galindo
Massachusetts Library System
866-627-7228 x121

Michelle Eberle
Massachusetts Library System
866-627-7228 x305