The Public Library Association (PLA) held its annual Results Boot Camp program this year on August 24th – 28th at the Nashville Public Library. Facilitated by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia, this year’s event focused on strategic planning and service delivery. In its tenth year, Boot Camp is described by PLA as “intensive library management training,” although the specific focus varies each year. Participants attend four full days and one half-day session, which feature a mix of lecture-style instruction and small group work. Time is also allotted for individual reflection about how the content fits in with your particular library’s situation.
My library has an existing strategic plan, but I learned a tremendous amount about its implementation during the program. Creating a vision for your library is one thing, but actually identifying the necessary steps to make it happen, while getting staff on board in the process, can be difficult. Boot Camp gave me specific tools and strategies to help refine my library’s goals and put them into action.
Perhaps the information that stuck out to me most was the importance of acclimating staff to change and helping them see the benefits of the library’s goals and objectives. The costs associated with change do not merely deal with money or facilities; there is an emotional component to it as well. By taking the time to understand how employees are feeling and address any questions or concerns they may have, a manager can help ensure his or her plan’s success.
Another rewarding aspect of Boot Camp was the small group format. This year’s class was the largest to date, featuring eighty librarians from throughout the country. Because the group was not unwieldy, participants were able to get to know each other and collaborate throughout the week. While it is very easy to become insulated in your own county or state, this setup forced us out of that habit, helping us to see how libraries operate in different areas.
For more information about strategic planning, I highly recommend instructor Sandra Nelson’s book Strategic Planning for Results, available through the ALA Store. This information contained in this work, part of the PLA Results series, mirrors much of the content covered in Boot Camp and is a necessity for any public library working towards a strategic plan.
Have questions about PLA’s other continuing education and professional development offerings? Visit http://www.ala.org/pla/education.