A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

The Importance of Dynamic Planning for Libraries

by Stephanie Gerding on August 15, 2016

Over the last ten years of consulting with libraries, I have seen the number of libraries with strategic plans slowly increase. But the plans are often not shared with staff, and library leaders don’t have decision-making and engagement tools they can use for day-to-day work. It is time to let go of the expensive, year-long strategic planning processes that result in a five-year plan that collects dust.

In today’s fast-paced environment of constant technological, demographic, fiscal, and social change in our communities, we have to be nimble and ready to meet opportunities and push through challenges. Dynamic planning practices provide the tools to be in touch with our community members, empower staff, and engage stakeholders in order to continuously meet the needs of our communities.

What is the Dynamic Planning Institute?

The Dynamic Planning Institute—to be hosted in Washington, D.C., (October 5–7, 2016) and online (September–November)—is a workshop that spotlights the many tools and resources available, rooted in design thinking, community engagement, evaluation, data analysis, risk management, and more. This professional development opportunity is truly unique in that it meets participants where they are and allows them to integrate dynamic planning into their daily work. Participants can choose to create a plan by the end of the year or just practice using some of these new tools, and they will be connected to a like-minded community striving for success. The workshop is an especially good fit for small libraries that don’t have the time or staff to devote to a large-scale planning effort.

The power of dynamic planning can be explained through the example of using a lever. A dynamic process is defined as energy and effective action, usually through continuous and productive activity or change. When a dynamic force is applied to a lever that force is multiplied many times and thus the performance is improved with less effort. The more dynamic efforts that are applied, the greater the potential of that force obtaining the desired results. It allows us to focus our efforts on lifting the heavy loads of our community needs. The plan is like a fulcrum, if it is placed closer to the needs of the community, greater results will be accomplished. Without a plan (fulcrum), library efforts can be wasted and less can be accomplished. Dynamic planning requires periodic refreshment of change in order to retain energy and progress.

With dynamic planning, you focus your efforts for the greatest results.

Benefits of the Dynamic Planning Institute

Dynamic Planning cycle: assess-strategize-engage-impact

Participate in the PLA’s Dynamic Planning Institute if you want to:

  1. Continuously revitalize your library while increasing impact.
  2. Assess your library’s strengths and limitations.
  3. Produce a commonality of purpose that bridges library staff and leadership, increasing staff’s morale and job satisfaction as informed partners.
  4. Determine clear strategic priorities and realistic goals based on your community’s greatest needs.
  5. Provide a basis for ongoing evaluation and informed improvement.
  6. Strengthen responsible accountability to governing authorities and the public while ensuring the most effective use of the library’s resources.
  7. Anticipate and respond to the challenges of a changing environment, ready for opportunities and funding possibilities.
  8. Incorporate innovation, flexibility, and stakeholder engagement.
  9. Create a living document with actionable pathways and an inclusive one-page plan.
  10. Explore tools and resources to help with community engagement, decision-making, risk-taking, innovation, staff empowerment, and project management.
  11. Apply best practices in dynamic library planning using the most updated methods and tools for communicating and achieving continuous results.

It’s not too late to sign up for PLA’s Dynamic Planning Institute! The deadline for applications is Friday, August 19. Click here to apply.

Stephanie Gerding, MLIS, (http://stephaniegerding.com), is a library consultant, trainer, and author on library planning, grants, training, advocacy, and technology topics. Stephanie provides professional development and evaluation consultations for clients around the world and online, including public, academic, state, and special libraries, as well as nonprofits.

Recent projects include developing and delivering PLA’s new Dynamic Planning Institute; Regional Trainer for PLA’s Project Outcome; project management for the IMLS/Gates grant funded Continuing Education Connector project led by the Chief Officers of State Libraries (COSLA), evaluation and training for CA’s Infopeople, training needs assessments for state and national organizations, online trainer for PLA’s Turning the Page advocacy program, consulting and training on the technology benchmarking Edge Initiative, and advisor for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has written four books including The Accidental Public Library Technology Trainer, and Winning Grants. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and engaging nine-year-old daughter.

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