Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy
In this age of reduced budgets and looming library closings, it is more important than ever that libraries are able to demonstrate the value of their services. Libraries must show in detail where the money they receive is going and that it’s being used effectively. Thus planning and management are essential. By developing detailed plans about the needs of the community and how the library plans on fulfilling those needs, the library is more likely to receive community support and support from key stakeholders. But librarians can’t just create programs and hope that users will show up. In order to show the library board and other decision makers that finances are being used effectively, librarians have to learn how to market their collections, their programs, and themselves.
However, planning, management and marketing are not only useful in proving the library’s value to the community, but simply in serving that community well. Creating a strategic plan that outlines a mission statement, core values and the library’s vision, the current state of affairs in the library, the goals for the library and plans for achieving that goal, provides a document that can help keep all staff members focused on achieving the same goals. Management, although it is something that is less concrete, is essential for keeping staff working efficiently on these goals. And finally these goals cannot be reached without effective marketing. Library users need to be made aware of all the services that are available to them in order for these services to be useful to the community.
Thus it is essential that librarians are able to apply the fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy.
The fundamental principles of planning are important for any organization that intends on growing and changing with the ever-evolving needs of group of people, whether that group is a consumer base or a community. Planning is often seen as something that happens for specific projects. However it is important that planning happens on the organizational level as well. Planning for the long-term first involves assessing the organization in terms of its current status, looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (also known as SWOT), assessing where improvements are needed, and creating goals to improve services. Taking an honest look at the strengths and weaknesses allows librarians to focus on areas that require improvement.
The library also needs to evaluate the competition and the resources that are available to the library to serve the community. What are the outside sources that are competing with the services the library provides? What kind of plan can the library create to compete with the resources available to them? And finally a good plan will need to create goals based on what they have discovered through the process above and outline ways in which they hope to reach these goals.
However planning is not a one-time process. The library must have methods in place for evaluating the success of plans that have been developed and adjust the plan accordingly. New threats and opportunities will arise, and what was once a weakness may become a strength. A library’s strategic plan should be reviewed regularly to reevaluate the direction the library is taking.
The completing of any plan requires the cooperation of staff and various other interest groups. Therefore having managerial skills is essential to getting plans off the ground. Librarians must be effective communicators so that the key groups involved in planning can work together to get the job done. The common-sense theory of organizational management states that one must “[u]nderstand that everyone has a role in making the organization function effectively” (Alire, 2004) and so an effective manager should consider these roles, determine how each group can best be used toward the determined goals, and work with all groups to bring the project together. If planning on an organizational level is an essential skill for librarians as stated above, thus managerial skills are also necessary in order to organize the people and resources to carry out those plans.
Marketing is the next step in completing a successful plan. Libraries have become aware of the importance of marketing, in that they have to promote their plans and themselves in order to gain community support and to make community members aware of the valuable services libraries provide. Marketing is often thought of as something for commercial companies, but more and more, non-profit institutions are seeing the need for marketing.
WorldNet defines marketing as “the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service;” (WorldNet 3.0). Libraries provide an important service for communities, and must use marketing to “sell” these services to the community. Part of planning should include some market research and methods of getting information about these services out to the communities that need them. This is where advocacy comes into play. By learning about the community needs through user needs assessments, surveying users for what they want from their library, and doing statistical research about the community and its demographics, the library can be advocates for the needs of their community.
Below I will discuss how my course work demonstrates that I am able to apply these fundamental principles of planning, management and marketing/advocacy.
Strategic Plan – LIBR 204 – Spring 2005
A strategic plan is a very important document for a library. It not only outlines the library’s mission statement, vision and values, but also establishes goals and a plan for reaching those goals. In this document, I’ve created a strategic plan for a fictional young adult collection in a public library. This document demonstrates the application of principles of all three areas mentioned in this competency.
It demonstrates that it satisfies that I am capable of applying the fundamental principles of planning in that I've created a document that sets out a three-year plan to develop the young adult area of the library. It fist establishes the goals, mission and vision of the library as ideas to always be focused on throughout the project. It then examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the department, along with the available resources. It also looks at the competition that young adult libraries face from places such as bookstores, record stores and other commercial outlets that don't have the restrictive reputation that libraries have for teens.
Based on the information gathered about the current status of the library, and outlines goals for the library to reach that are aimed at improving the current state of the library department. Each goal described and provides reasons why this is an important goal for the library, and then outlines methods for reaching that goal. Programs are outlined in terms of time, resources and success factors so that they can be examined later and the library can determine whether it was able to reach its goals using this program.
This strategic plan demonstrates management in that it aims to work not only with library employees and librarians, but also with the local schools, the school board, the library board, and teens themselves. One of the main objectives of this project was to create a plan through which you would work with various groups to reach established goals. Outlined are plans for working with the teen librarian and the teen advisory board to create a user assessment survey to find out how teens feel about the library and what they are looking for from it, as well as creating programs with local artists, and coordinating with various library departments to renovate the teen center.
By creating a publicly available plan for reaching goals, the library is able to set expectations in the community and account for valuable tax dollars, thereby marketing the library's serivices. Through the user needs assessments outlined, and creating programs for teens, a group that is not known for using the library, the plan demonstrates advocacy for teens.
Strategic Plan: Public Version – LIBR 204 – Spring 2005
I also created a public version of the same strategic plan. This document was intended to be a brief marketing-oriented version of the strategic plan for public presentation. While the strategic plan itself promotes the library and what it is doing in terms of programs and development, this version is specifically created for presentation. It uses bold colors and highlights the mission statement of the department as a reminder of the intent of the department and the plans of the library. It is promoting the library's services and making the public aware of the efforts that the library is making, and ensures that all the planning and management that goes into
Alire, C. A. (2004). Two intriguing practices to library management theory. Library Administration & Management. 18(1), 39-40.
marketing. (n.d.). WordNet® 3.0. Retrieved September 23, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marketing