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Commit % of funds: Devote a percentage of resources to innovation to stay current.

  • Reward innovation: Celebrate success with opportunities to replicate the results elsewhere. Allow failure as a learning experience.

    Goal 6: Professional Development and Self Care- We reinvent our methods, models products and services to keep pace with the “new normal” of transformational social and technological change.

    The strategies to achieve this goal are:



    1. New skills: Examine the structure and skills of the library workforce in relation to new services.

    2. Cross-training: Offer training in areas critical to success in the “new normal”, including leadership, facilitation, project management, fundraising, business development, partnering and process design.

    3. Collaborate with educational institutions: Ensure that librarians receive the training they need for high performance and career satisfaction in the future.

    4. Time to learn: Designate time for informal networking, brainstorming and learning from each other.

    5. Self-care: Provide opportunities for library staff to take care of themselves through stress reduction, coaching, improvements to the workplace and fun.

    Goal 7: Creative Funding Sources- We are reliably funded through diversified sources including federal, state and foundation grants, business partnerships, seed funding and entrepreneurial activities. We work closely with political leaders to maintain or grow funding from traditional sources.

    The strategies to achieve this goal are:



    1. Efficiency and effectiveness: Develop more efficient ways of delivering services. Shift the resources to new projects that have strong customer or stakeholder support and those that reflect the most promising practices.

    2. Value-add: Generate new revenue from adding value to jointly-created and delivered services.

    3. Grants: Pursue state, federal and foundation grants as both a revenue source and a service.

    4. Specialized partnerships: Develop partnerships around issues facing key government, business and community groups, e.g. school readiness, workforce development and enterprise incubators.

    5. Revitalize existing funding: Work with political leaders to identify gaps in service delivery for new projects that underpin traditional funding.

    Next Steps

    The strategic plan provides opportunities for all librarians and all types of libraries to participate in the implementation of the plan. These options comprise:



    Lead or join a task force: to collaborate with other librarians in New Jersey to create a future of our choosing with the support of key stakeholders

    Choose to implement one of 33 ready-made projects: you can start today in collaboration with your community, customers or political leaders.

    Develop one of 33 project ideas: and start a planning process with your own staff and in partnership with your local community, school, business or university.

    Secure new funding using some of 8 strategies: for existing and new projects and programs including federal, state and foundation grants, LLNJ and State Library seed funding, sponsorships, new political commitments and partnerships with suppliers, government agencies and community groups.

    Libraries create their own version of the strategic plan: using key elements of the LLNJ strategic plan.

    Design and deliver new professional development programs: for your staff and boards in advocacy, project management and partnering that will enable libraries to achieve their goals.

    Develop and offer a new state-wide service: by finding the talents in your library e.g. grant writing that could be offered through other libraries on an exchange-of-value basis.

    Our Strategic Planning Process

    The "Living Plan" approach to strategic planning adopted by LLNJ/NJSL is designed to be an iterative process of planning and implementation that can be continued by libraries and our stakeholders throughout New Jersey. We use the process to synthesize our creativity, passions and expertise and to collectively create our desired future one step at a time.

    There are many ways to make use of this plan. Key elements of the plan, including goals and strategies, can easily be incorporated into individual library strategic plans. Individuals can join task forces to implement specific projects, and libraries can also choose to undertake a similar strategic planning process, but at a local scale.



    1. Kick-off meeting

    The process began with a meeting to discuss and finalize the process, decide who we want to invite and what we expect to achieve by the end of the project. The process began in the LLNJ offices on October 9, 2012, followed by the official kick-off meeting with the Statewide Strategic Planning Committee on the afternoon of October 25.



    2. Research and Briefing Notes

    Desktop research was undertaken to prepare briefing notes to inform the strategic planning process, especially to provide inputs to the series of workshops. This information included trend data on emerging technologies, changes in the role of libraries, shifts in patterns of knowledge management and knowledge creation, as well as relevant financial and population statistics. Thought provoking challenges from thought leaders about future scenarios were derived from journal articles, meta-studies and presentations on TED.



    3. Advisory Committee Workshop

    A workshop was conducted with the leadership of LLNJ to canvass the widest possible range of issues as early in the process as possible. The issues were explored using sequences of rich questions including:

    1. Our role: What are the roles of libraries and librarians in a world that is ever more complex, and where many more people are involved in the creation, dissemination, remixing, categorization and publishing of works (film, books, research, learning resources, etc.)? What is important to keep that we have done in the past? What is our new work/activity?

    2. Our brand/identity: What are we known for? How will our citizens regard libraries and librarians in the mid-21st century? For what will we be recognized and valued? How will we help people, where are they located? How do we interact with our community?

    3. The context: What are the major trends in the world of libraries and librarians? What might we borrow from other industries/sectors, e.g. hospitality, publishing, communications? Where are libraries/or the new functions of libraries needed where they do not exist already?

    4. Our customers and other stakeholders: Who uses libraries now? What are our customers’ needs and do we serve them well? Who might use libraries in the future? How might we engage more people/new groups of people in becoming part of the NJ library community? What other stakeholders are important to our future and why?

    5. The value of libraries: How is the value of libraries perceived and by whom? How are they perceived as entities that embrace the future? If not, how might we change that? What value/perceived value might we add so that libraries become known as a great thing to fund?

    6. Competition: Who are the competitors to libraries? Where do we compete where can’t be successful? How and where might we compete where we have a strategic advantage? How might we collaborate with competitors to offer higher overall value?

    7. Governance, leadership and influence: How can we play a leadership role in the fields of knowledge management, knowledge creation and the wise application of knowledge? What are the gaps in society/business where we can make a difference or be influential?



    1. Structures and processes: How should we structure/organize and co-ordinate our activities across New Jersey so that we integrate the interests of our member organizations and their communities, customers and stakeholders? How might we apply economies of scale to take advantage of resources? What activities require local/custom/just-in-time services and how might we best deliver these?

    2. Professional development: What new skills/capacities will librarians and their staff need and what old skills do we want to maintain or further develop in order to perform our new role(s)?

    3. Resources, technologies and methods: What kinds of buildings, equipment, processes and methods will we expect in the library of the mid-21st century? Describe a day in the life of the "library", virtual, physical or otherwise?

    4. Sources of funding: How will our work be funded? Who will want to pay for our services/support our work, and why will they want/need to do this? What will be free and why?

    5. What new sources of funding might we tap? How might we expand on or manage existing sources of funding more effectively?

    6. Choice trilogy: What are we doing well that we want to KEEP? What is an obstacle or barrier to our success that we might ABANDON? What new activities or revised activities are we drawn to INVENT/REINVENT?

    7. Envisioning the future: Craft a definition of “library” for Wikipedia in 2020. Be sure to include librarians/other library people, who uses libraries and how, as well as their structure, physical and/or virtual.

    8. Projects: What is a project we need to start today in New Jersey to create or further develop our new or enhanced services, systems, roles, methods, processes, governance models, funding mechanisms etc.?

    9. Measure of success: How will we know when we are successful? What will we have achieved and how will we be able to measure it? E.g. Number of new library users and positive experience satisfaction reports. Number of people trained. Number of documents published.

    After each workshop, the results were published on an interactive, web-based mind map that enables LLNJ and the broader community to see and track the progress of the plan.

    4. Community workshops

    A series of public workshops was held throughout New Jersey – in Hammonton, Monroe and Paterson - to give librarians and other stakeholders an opportunity to participate and contribute their thinking to the plan.



    5. First Iteration of the Strategic Plan

    An initial version of the plan, in the form of a narrative framework, was developed early in the process to act as a reference point. It combined the initial research and the advisory committee deliberations, including:



    • Environmental scan: The major trends and emerging issues

    • Preferred future: The main goals; what we should be striving to achieve so we either align with the emerging future or take an active role in creating it

    • Stakeholder interests: The major stakeholders and their interests and how their relationships with libraries and librarians may possibly evolve

    • Dynamic capacities analysis: What activities should we keep? What should we abandon? What should we invent or reinvent?

    • Dynamic resources analysis: What roles do we need to play? What tools/technologies/methods and resources do we need to have or continue to use/enhance? What are the rules of interaction with our stakeholders?

    • Projects/Programs: A list of projects or programs and tentative measures we need to put in place so that a) the activities are aligned with the emerging preferred future, b) the stakeholders’ evolving interests are met or surpassed, c) the changes we need to make to our organization or system (keep, abandon, reinvent) are in place and d) the new roles we need to play in relation to our stakeholders are all identified and understood

    • Measures: Initial list of possible indicators/measures of success


    6. Supplementary Inputs to the Plan

    A series of non-workshop activities were also undertaken to include a broad spectrum of opinions to enrich the planning process:



    • Targeted interview were conducted with 12 domain experts and key leaders/influencers in the library community with a deep understanding of New Jersey libraries in a national/international context.

    • A survey sought opinions from the LLNJ network unable to participate in the workshops, to which 520 responded.

    • A survey of school students’ opinions about the future of libraries elicited 457 responses.


    7. Synthesis into Strategic Focus Areas

    The workshop outputs were consolidated/synthesized into a set of seven themes/strategic focus areas, each exemplified by 6-7 project concepts.



    8. On-line Task Force Workshops to Create Project Plans

    Thirty six people volunteered to join task forces to create detailed project plans and generate goal and strategy statements and measures of success for each of the seven strategic focus areas. Participants worked in groups using telephone conferencing and Google Docs.

    The goal statement format was:


    • Goals (What)

    • Strategies (How)

    • Measures of Success (How will we know when we’ve succeeded)

    The project plan format was:

    • Project Title (4-5 words)

    • Project Description (25 -100 words)

    • Governance: Roles and responsibilities, who will own the project

    • Objectives: What will the project achieve?

    • Stakeholders: Which stakeholders and their interests will be served by the project? Who will make use of the product/service and how, who will be the suppliers?

    • Time frame(s) for development, implementation etc.

    • Estimated cost range and sources of funding

    • Actions/activities (in detail)

    • Measures of success (benefits, measurable, clear, simple, actionable)

    • Professional development required

    • Resources, technological or facilities requirements

    • Integration with other projects/programs

    9. Draft Strategic Plan Review

    The advisory committee met to review the project plans, the stakeholder interests analysis, as well as the goals, strategies and measures of success, and to further refine them. This process involved reviewing all of the information collected during the process, as well as the tentative goal statements and project plans and synthesizing the concepts to a new and higher level of integrated order.



    10. Strategic Plan Preparation

    The formal strategic plan was developed by analyzing the contributions of all of the participants and the analysis by the advisory committee, and drawing these together into an environmental scan, a vision statement for New Jersey libraries and librarians, seven strategic goals and a selection of projects to operationalize the plan consisting of:



    • A slide presentation or “haiku” version of the plan, which was presented at the New Jersey Library Association conference in Atlantic City, on June 5, 2013.

    • This report, which is a formal strategic plan.

    • The entire strategic plan and process, step-by-step, complete with briefing notes, workshop outputs, the early project plan framework, project plans, slide presentations and survey results located at: https://www.mindmeister.com/237766551/llnj-strategic-planning-process.






    NJSL/LLNJ Interactive

    Strategic Planning Mind Map


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