Scarborough Public Library
Strategic Plan 2017-2019
The Strategic Planning Committee, an ad hoc committee of the Library Board of Trustees, made up of current and past representatives of the Board, the Library Director and members of the public, began to meet in November, 2014 with the goal of developing a plan for library operation for the future. The Plan updates the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan and again covers a period of three years. The drafting process included consideration of current and emerging library trends, recognition of the library’s strengths and weaknesses, identification of our stakeholders, seeking community input and developing the Plan. The Plan reflects the priorities of the Scarborough community.
In the first few meetings, the team focused on gaining a high-level understanding of current and possible future states of public libraries. It reviewed nation-wide studies and narratives about current and projected library usage, statistical summaries about the town of Scarborough and information about local library use. The Committee also surveyed the Library staff for their expert opinions on current and future services and how they see their role in the Library’s mission. Working with the Committee, the Board of Trustees reviewed and revised the Library’s Vision, Values and Mission statements. The Board also conducted a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to further understand the Library’s current and possible future states.
The Committee identified stakeholders in the Library’s success. Early on the Committee decided that stakeholders included community members who don’t currently use the Library and developed a single questionnaire aimed at both library cardholders and non-cardholders. On Election Day, 2015 the Committee had a display at the town polling site to engage as many members of the Scarborough community as possible, including those who may not have a library card. Emails addresses were solicited from voters as they exited the polling area.
The survey was sent out electronically to both library card-holders and those who shared their email addresses at the polls. In addition, library patrons were invited to complete the survey by hand in the library over a week. All told, the Committee received over 660 survey responses.
In addition to surveys, the Committee identified representatives of various community interests and met with them in a series of focus groups. The focus groups included business interests, seniors, educators, the Friends of the Library, teens, local government representatives, the general public and the Library staff. As part of the process, the Library Director and Board Chair led a workshop with the Scarborough Town Council.
Using the results of all the data gathered, including but not limited to the overview of library trends, updated Vision, Value and Mission statements, and community input through surveys and focus groups, the Committee identified specific themes; these themes became Strategic Priorities. The Committee then developed specific goals from the themes. The Library staff, who will be charged with implementing most of the Priorities, developed specific, measurable action steps to implement these goals. The Plan includes objectives, or active statements, and assigns responsibility for completion, a time frame, necessary resources and measurement criteria. The timeline for the Plan is 2017-2019.
A Note on Library Expansion
One of the themes that the Strategic Planning Committee identified as flowing through the feedback we received from the Scarborough community, perhaps the most common theme, is the need to expand the library. Many of the surveys and virtually all of the focus group discussion identified space issues. For example, the need for more quiet space came up frequently, as did the need for additional, and larger, meeting space.
Our current library building opened in 1990. The facility was originally intended to serve the needs of the town of Scarborough for a limited period of time with the realization that as the town of Scarborough grew, the Library would eventually need to expand to continue to serve the community’s needs. While the Library always had an eye to the future, it was designed and built at a time when the library primarily functioned as a book-lender and the collection was organized with a card catalog.
Since then, the role of the library has expanded to include providing access to technology, extensive cultural and educational programming and community meeting space (among many other things). The Scarborough Public Library has adapted over time to perform all of these functions and much more in a facility that was not designed for them. And, as anticipated, our town has continued to grow.
In 2002 the Board of Trustees undertook several studies to identify space deficiencies and operational inefficiencies in the current building so that planning might begin for the next decade of growth in the community. That planning effort continued in 2004 with the hiring of an architect to conduct an existing conditions study and develop architectural plans for an expansion. In June 2006 voters narrowly defeated a proposed expansion and renovation of the existing library.
As a result of feedback from the community gathered over the last year-plus, the Scarborough Public Library Board of Trustees has determined that the time is right to explore expanding the library. The goal of any library expansion is to update our current Library to more adequately meet today’s needs and provide flexibility for the future. We look forward to partnering with the Scarborough community as we explore possible options.
The Board of Trustees wishes to thank the hundreds of people from the town of Scarborough who provided feedback during this process through surveys, focus groups and general conversations. The purpose of the Plan is to set your Library’s course for the next few years and we thank you for your time and willingness to share what is important to you.
In addition, the Board is grateful for the input from Library staff. They are on the front lines and we could not have gotten far without their hard work and eagerness to help.
Finally, the Board extends its gratitude to Nancy Crowell, Library Director, for her tireless energy, boundless enthusiasm, sound insights and her deep institutional knowledge in working through this process.