What can we do for you?
Library Strategies’ consulting services help you maximize your current assets and invest in change that will launch your library into the future. Consulting projects come in all sizes – from Friends & Foundation training to strategic planning processes. Every consulting service we provide is uniquely designed to fit your needs no matter the scope of your project.
Strategic Planning Services
Library Strategies will work with you to you engage the community so that you can better prioritize services and activities, build innovation in your system, and use your resources wisely in response to rapidly changing needs and budget challenges. If facilities are part of your planning, we can help you make important decisions about spaces to best serve your customers. We can even train your team to facilitate your own planning. Browse our services and case studies below.
Our innovative and dynamic planning process, Rapid Results Planning®, has been utilized by libraries of all sizes across the country. We have developed a highly effective, community-driven process that results in a visionary yet actionable strategic plan that creates broad support and partnerships.
The typical Rapid Results Planning process includes the following phases:
- Data Analysis and Environmental Assessment
- Community Survey
- Key Stakeholder Interviews
- Rapid Results Planning Community Retreat*
- Strategic Plan and Dashboard
- Implementation Plan
* The keystone element of our process is the Community Retreat, which requires an involved invitation process to bring together a broad representation of community leaders, from homeschool parents and school superintendents to police chiefs, teens, and business owners. During the pandemic, we have adapted the retreat process into a series of remote, facilitated focus groups.
Beyond the plan that is developed, the Rapid Results Planning process results in an engaged community that is invested in its library and values its role in enhancing the future.
Library Strategies consultants work closely with a Strategic Planning Committee, which is formed to guide the planning process; provide background and context to the consultants; identify key stakeholders and retreat participants; and approve the draft Strategic Plan.
One of the defining features of the Rapid Results Planning process is its relatively succinct timeline. We can complete the entire process in three to four months at a cost considerably less than traditional planning processes.
Strategic Plan. We believe strategic plans should be accessible and easy to understand. The Rapid Results Planning strategic plan document is one to two pages, graphically designed, and appealing to read. We encourage libraries to present the plan broadly across the community through various media channels.
Dashboard. We also develop a one-page dashboard tool for governing bodies to measure progress on the plan. This interactive tool should be reviewed at every Library Board meeting to maintain momentum and accountability.
Implementation Plan. Finally, we work with the Library staff to develop an Implementation Plan. This is where the details of executing the plan are developed, with tasks, assignments, deadlines, and outcome measures.
Beyond the plan that is developed, the Rapid Results Planning process results in an engaged community that is invested in its library and values its role in enhancing the future.
A library is foremost an environment created to provide access to materials and services; therefore it is critically important that those seeking access are able to find what they need every step of the way. The building must conform to their journey of learning and discovery. Because each customer’s – and each generation’s – needs and demands can change over time, it is important that a library facility responds in kind.
Library Strategies can ensure that happens. We can be your advocates before a project starts (space needs assessments, cost estimating, etc.), during a project (working with the architect and library staff), or afterwards (remodeling projects, space use analysis and recommendations). Whatever your need, Library Strategies can provide the guidance, recommendations, and steps for implementation to help you maximize your space, improve flexibility, incorporate innovations, and improve customer service.
Rapid Results Planning Train-the-Trainer Program
All libraries should be doing strategic planning, but many libraries cannot afford to hire a consultant to facilitate this very important process. Library Strategies developed Rapid Results Planning® to be a comprehensive, stakeholder-driven process that produces great results. To make Rapid Results Planning available to more libraries, Library Strategies developed a train-the-trainer program to teach other consultants how to use this tool effectively. Rapid Results Planning Training is appropriate for state libraries, regional library systems, and other organizations that support multiple libraries (of all types).
Library Strategies conducts a two-day training that takes participants from the basics of strategic planning concepts to designing the planning process to drafting the strategic plan.
The Rapid Results Planning Training program includes:
- Pre-Planning and Recruiting the Planning Team
- Data Gathering
- The Rapid Results Planning Retreat
- Creating the Strategic Plan
- Implementation Planning
At the conclusion of the training, consultants will have the knowledge, skills (and a manual) to help them conduct effective strategic planning processes.
Participants who engage in Rapid Results Planning Training can include state library staff or consultants, or regional library staff or trainers. The training is conducted by Library Strategies consultants who have led dozens of Rapid Results Planning process for libraries across the country.
Planning for the training and conducting the two-day program can generally be completed in 6 weeks to 2 months.
The outcome of our train-the-trainer program is staff, or consultants, who have been thoroughly trained in conducting an extremely successful, comprehensive strategic planning process.
Resource Development & Community Investment
Library Strategies helps libraries and library support organizations build a culture that embraces fundraising and philanthropy. We can help you boost annual giving, explore the feasibility of a capital campaign, launch an advocacy effort, or make your friends/foundation more effective. We instill understanding of the vital connection between philanthropic investment and data that prove your value, relevancy and impact. We also help you develop and communicate your value proposition to advocate for greater support. Browse our services below.
Libraries are getting better about making sure that they have strategic plans to guide them but, unfortunately, library support organizations (Friends & foundations) rarely have their own plans. It’s time to think about development planning!
Development planning is essentially the process of creating a strategic plan, but the focus is on articulating how your foundation or Friends can be most effective at providing support to your library.
A development planning process usually includes the following steps:
- Interviews with key stakeholders to assess your support organization’s current activities and capacity for growth;
- A facilitated planning retreat;
- Drafting a three-year development plan.
The process itself engages board members in creating a shared vision for how they can be more effective and links their organization’s activities directly to the library’s own strategic goals.
The players who engage in development planning can include the Board of the fundraising organization, the Library Director (possibly key management staff), library Trustees, and members of other support organizations.
Development planning usually takes 2-3 months depending on the availability of participants.
At the conclusion of the development planning process, the Friends or foundation will have a plan that articulates their most effective structure (board size and composition, committee structure, up-to-date by-laws, etc.). The plan focuses on activities (advocacy, annual campaign, planned giving, special events, corporate sponsorship, and more) and establishes goals, strategies, and responsibilities.
Having a development plan in place is the difference between having a well-intentioned fundraising organization and one that really delivers valuable support to your library.
Library Strategies conducts valuable feasibility studies to help libraries determine the potential level of private funding that can be attracted to support a capital building project. Because of our deep knowledge of libraries and the role they play in their communities, we are able to anticipate and address the tough questions that inevitably arise during capital campaigns. Questions such as:
- With everyone using the Internet, why should we build or renovate libraries?
- I already pay taxes for public services. Why should I contribute to a capital campaign?
- I haven’t been in a library in years. Are they still relevant in our communities?
Our approach to feasibility studies includes presenting the library vision to 20-30 potential major donors and community leaders in individual, face-to-face interviews. We develop a graphically designed presentation of the project, along with its budget and anticipated funding sources. During the interview, we will ask potential donors to share their opinions of the proposed project, library leadership, and their potential participation in a future campaign.
Library Strategies works closely with the Feasibility Study Steering Committee to help articulate the vision, confirm the desired goal, identify potential major donors, and assist with inviting those donors to participate in the study. We have found that when people are asked by their fellow community members, they are more likely – even enthusiastic – to participate in an interview.
Feasibility studies generally take three to four months to complete, with the most time required for scheduling interviews.
After compiling the results of the interviews, Library Strategies consultants develop a report of the findings and include recommendations for campaign success. We will make recommendations regarding:
- An achievable campaign goal
- Ideal campaign leadership
- Challenges to address prior to launching
- Features of the project that resonate with donors
- Ideal timing and positioning of the project
The final report will also include a framework for the potential campaign, including a timeline and identification of next steps.
Conducting successful capital campaigns requires careful planning, strong leadership, and consistent follow-through. Library Strategies provides guidance to libraries throughout the entire campaign process, from initial planning to final celebration.
Capital campaigns involve two phases: The Quiet Phase and the Public Phase. The Quiet Phase, involves individual solicitation of major donors by campaign volunteers. This is a critical part of any campaign, as up to 80-90% of the campaign goal is secured in the Quiet Phase. The Public Phase occurs when the campaign is announced and solicitation of the general public begins with events, direct mail, social media, and other broad-based channels.
Campaign counsel in the Quiet Phase includes the following activities:
- Develop campaign plan, timeline, and budget
- Recruit Campaign Chair(s) and Campaign Committee members
- Write and design the Case Statement and all campaign collateral
- Determine campaign management and communication plan
- Clarify roles and responsibilities/hire campaign staff if necessary
- With Campaign Committee, identify and qualify donor prospects
- Develop cultivation and solicitation strategies
- Provide solicitation training and assist with solicitations if necessary
- Manage all communication and meetings of Campaign Committee
- Provide guidance throughout the campaign to address issues and ensure progress
Campaign counsel in the Public Phase includes the following activities:
- Provide content and design of marketing and solicitation activities
- Assist with event planning
- Develop social media content and design
- Assist with donor recognition activities
- Provide guidance and lay groundwork for future fundraising activities
Library Strategies helps recruit Campaign Chair(s) and Campaign Steering Committee members and works closely with them throughout the Campaign.
Depending on the size of the goal, capital campaigns typically take between 18 and 24 months to complete, including the feasibility study.
The outcome of a well-run campaign is the achievement of the campaign goal and an engaged donor base that is now invested in the future of the Library.
A capacity assessment is a 360–degree evaluation of a fundraising organization’s readiness and ability to do comprehensive fundraising. It starts with a review of the organization’s by-laws, financial records, Board and committee structure, newsletters and annual reports. Next we conduct a series of interviews with all key stakeholders of the organization: Foundation/Friends Board members, key library staff and Library Trustees.
Library Strategies presents a comprehensive report of our findings with specific recommendations for becoming a more robust fundraising organization, including:
- Board engagement and composition
- Committee structure
- Relationship with the Library
- Communications (both internal and external)
- Fundraising activities;
- Strategic and development plans
The report is presented to the organization’s Board of Directors who make decisions on implementing the recommendations.
The entire Board of the fundraising organization needs to be involved in this process, as well as key staff and the Library Director, plus a representative from the Library’s Trustees.
A thorough assessment process takes approximately 3 months and involves two on-site visits by the fundraising consultant: one for interviews and one to present the report.
At the conclusion of this process, the fundraising organization will have a blueprint for future fundraising activities and strategies for becoming a stronger, more focused organization. A new Committee of the Board should be appointed to oversee the implementation of all recommendations. Library Strategies consultants can also work with your fundraising organization after the assessment to ensure that the capacity building is successful.
We help clarify the roles and responsibilities of your Friends and Foundation, including articulating where these roles intersect, and build strong relationships between these organizations. We can also help facilitate a merger if this model best supports your library.
Library Boards are critical to the success of today’s libraries. They provide the strategic direction for the library, ensure adequate resources, supervise the Director, and are ears and eyes in the community. Friends and Foundation Boards may provide increasingly valuable private resources in support of the Library.
Yet most Board members receive little training on their roles, responsibilities, or positive approach to governance and management. In some cases, the Board(s) are not supporting or governing the Library effectively and struggle with moving forward.
A Board development process can help Boards understand their role, but also define positive next steps to become more proactive supporters and governors of the library. Board development may also be a helpful first step leading into a more comprehensive strategic plan, fundraising/development plan, or even a capital campaign. Board development is usually a short process, typically consisting of initial discussions, a board retreat, and a follow-up report which includes recommended next steps.
The players who engage in board development can include the Library Board/Library Trustees and Library Director, as well as the Boards of the Library’s Friends and Foundation.
Board development may consist solely of a half- or full-day workshop or retreat, or include additional planning or consultation work that may take 2-3 months.
Board development is tailored specifically to the needs of the board or boards involved. The boards advance their knowledge of best practices, their roles and responsibilities, and emerge with a short list of action steps to improve their effectiveness. Typical areas of improvement are in board governance, management and ethics, advocacy, roles and responsibilities, and/or fundraising.
Successful boards are critical to building a successful, community-oriented library. Continuing board development, especially tailored to the library’s needs, greatly enhances the functioning and effectiveness of the board and library.
Sometimes libraries need to advocate for sustainable public funding. This training includes developing an effective advocacy platform, preparing lobbying fact sheets and position papers, making your library’s case to political decision-makers, and much more. Library Strategies has worked with organizations around the United States and Europe in creating stronger advocacy efforts to support their library systems. If you would like a custom advocacy training session for your library or library organization, please contact us.
Our approach is as unique as you are.
“Effective fundraising is about relationships first, money second.”
We took our most important fundraising advice and put it in a book just for you. Whether your library undertakes only occasional fundraising projects or is well along in this effort and wants to become more successful, Beyond Book Sales: The Complete Guide to Raising Real Money for Your Library will guide you through proven methods of effective library fundraising. It will help you think about raising dollars in new ways and stretching beyond your traditional fundraising activities. In fact, because so many libraries already know how to do book sales successfully, this book will not include that topic, except to offer one piece of advice: When selling books or other merchandise, determine how you can connect your sale to other fundraising you do.