Monthly Archives: August 2013

21st Century Library Strategic Plan Model Book

Crash Course in Strategic Planning” is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

This book is anything but a re-print of the original Strategic Planning Blog posts. IT IS SO MUCH MORE! Over the past years we’ve had a lot of time to test and re-think these ideas. This book is current and contains much more explanation and discussion of strategic planning for librarians, library directors, board members and community leaders in this 21st Century environment.

Crash Course in Strategic Planning includes:

… the commitment of a single individual to a plan isn’t enough — the effort of an entire group guided in a cohesive direction is usually required to achieve success. The general recipe for achieving an intended outcome is equal parts of the following: clear vision and mission, a practical strategic plan, daily activities linked to the mission, and unified commitment to the plan. However, orchestrating the details of these necessary components is more complicated than you might think. Crash Course in Strategic Planning uses a process approach to the creation of a highly useful strategic plan, providing practitioners with exceptionally helpful instruction on planning and leading the process.

Crash Course in Strategic Planning covers:
Chapter 1 – Why Develop a Strategic Plan
Chapter 2 – The 21st Century Library Strategic Plan Model
Chapter 3 – Mission Statement
Chapter 4 – Values and Guiding Principles
Chapter 5 – Vision Statement
Chapter 6 – Forecast
Chapter 7 – Goals and Objectives
Chapter 8 – Activities
Chapter 9 – Measures and Outcomes
Chapter 10 – Resource Allocation
Chapter 11 – Organization of the Plan
Chapter 12 – Choose Your Strategic Plan Ending
Chapter 13 – Conclusion

Crash Course in Strategic Planning chapter sections address:
Theory – why we do this element of the process
Practice – how we can accomplish this element effectively
Examples – what specifically we can do to accomplish this element
Derailment – what influences might prevent us from accomplishing this element of the process, and
Small Library Ideas – specific suggestions for your small library and limited resources

Chapter 12 – Choose Your Strategic Plan Ending will entertain and amaze you, because it is written in the popular style of ‘choose your own adventure’ youth book genre from the 1980s-90s. Follow the story and choose the end state you want for your 21st Century Library Strategic Plan endeavors.

For more information and to order your copy, visit “Crash Course in Strategic Planning.”
(APA Citation: Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Thank you for your interest and support!

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A Sixth Challenge Every Librarian Must Face

In October of 2011, I wrote Five Challenges Every Librarian Must Face and outlined these five challenges.
1. Broadest Spectrum of Library Customers in History
2. Information Literate Millennial Customers
3. Computers that Replace Librarians
4. Transition to Digital Content
5. Devaluing of the Library’s Benefit to the Community

In the past two years I have not seen or read anything that revises my opinion about these five challenges. Almost 5,000 reads in just the past year (8,500 since posted, about 100 a week) have not resulted in any opposition to those five challenges. Although, in January of 2013, I posted an update to 21st Century librarianship, 21st Century Librarianship – Revisited, in which I wrote about (a very slight) change in librarianship education.

And fortunately, there does appear to be a slowdown in the worsening of Number 5. Library closings have slowed and are less in the headlines, which seems to indicate that, if there has been any improvement in the economy, libraries are benefitting from better local budgets along with other community entities. That’s the good news! Still, the bad news is that the local library must reinvent itself to be more relevant to its community, if it expects to survive, and certainly if it hopes to thrive.

The sixth challenge every librarian must face is the personal development of new skill sets – the kind of skills they don’t teach you in library school. I have long advocated that the 21st Century library must be more business-like to meet the multitude of challenges that running a library faces. (Read and The 21st Century Library is More: Business-like and More Business-Like? Absolutely!)

Based on my assertion that 21st Century Librarians Create 21st Century Libraries, it follows that the 21st Century librarian must also have the business acumen in order to run that 21st Century library – 21st Century Librarianship – Part 4, Business Acumen. That business acumen includes the skills to be successful at such tasks as:
• Conduct continuous assessment
• Be service oriented
• Employ marketing strategy
• Implement continuous innovation
• Develop flexibility
• Be highly responsive to every environment
• Become nimble in operations

These are traits and skills not traditionally associated with librarianship. Which means the forward thinking and innovative librarian must develop these skills on their own motivation, effort and resourcefulness. Not only those business skills are required in the 21st Century, but many other skills not traditionally associated with librarianship.
• Cloud Computing
• Customer Targeting
• Crowdsourcing
• Digital Discovery
• Gaming
• Open Innovation
• Planned Abandonment
• Social Networking

And, as if that wasn’t enough change, in 2000 Alvin Toffler gave us a new understanding of literacy in the 21st Century: “Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.” Which means we must also develop new learning skills and master skills such as how to:
• Learn and re-learn
• Use constantly changing technology
• Master new ways to find Information
• Efficiently problem solve
• Effectively communicate
• Create strategic collaborations

21st Century Librarianship is faced with MANY challenges that can only be overcome through new ways of being a librarian, using new skill sets, and imbued with a new understanding of what being a librarian means today – and in the future – if our profession is to have a future.


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21st Century Libraries Look Like: Something Unexpected – Part 3

Little Free Library / NYC

The 21st Century Library is – SOMETHING UNEXPECTED!

The Story Behind Ten Tiny Libraries That Popped Up in NYC This Summer

What unexpected library feature have you created in your community?

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Meet The Millennials – Harry and Katniss

Harry1. The magical wizard Harry Potter (the “older” end of the generation) These “first wave Millennials” (today’s 20-somethings) came of age in the economic boom of the 90s/early ‘00s, a time infused with the spirit of “Yes We Can” and the belief that college, working hard and playing by the rules would guarantee future success. Raised by idealistic Boomer parents, they were told they were special and gifted, with a magic wand capable of changing the world. They were shaped by a context of seemingly limitless possibilities.

2. The Hunger Game’s trailblazing survivalist Katniss Everdeen (the younger end of the generation, peeking into Gen Z). This second wave of Millennials, today’s tweens & teens, have known a very different youth. They came of age in an economic downturn, seeing college grads struggling with huge student loan debt and living through a cascade of social media-amplified tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook. For them, life has always been a 24/7 social media show.

It’s a challenging world to traverse, and like Katniss from the Hunger Games, they are navigating life by honing specialized, self-taught (often Internet-acquired) survival skills. They are also utilizing the advice of their pragmatic Gen X parents, who don’t say “the world is your oyster,” but rather “you have to create your own oyster.”

This assessment is based on a recent study – Young Millennials Will Keep Calm & Carry On – by MTV.

MTV set out to understand the younger end of the Millennial demo, 13-17 year olds, who will soon move into the “sweet spot” of MTV’s core target demographic of 18-24 year olds. This is a landmark generational study that builds on MTV’s long legacy of deeply understanding our audience, as part of an effort to constantly reinvent ourselves and stay at the bleeding edge of youth culture.

Millennials are one of the most analyzed, scrutinized, criticized and even glorified generations ever. But what much of Millennial research fails to recognize is that there are two distinct groups within the generation, as illustrated by MTV’s new study.

Generational analysis has always been very vague and generalized because to be more specific about people who were born and grew up almost 20 years apart, as in Boomers born in 1946 compared to those born in 1964, is a difficult task. Few researchers felt the need to be more specific. Early Boomers are very different from late Boomers, because society changed drastically from the post-WWII “Rock-n-Roll” era to the psychedelic “Hippy” era.

The rest of the article goes on to elaborate on the younger segment of Millennials, focusing on four important traits.

These pragmatic youth are natural preppers in the face of an unpredictable world – whether planning for physically safety in light of violence or prepping for their futures in a more uncertain economic climate.

Young Millennials are consummate brand managers, honing their unique personal brand to stand out and specialize in a world that’s increasingly competitive (whether that’s in terms of obtaining a following online or getting into college.)

YMs are consciously taking time to self-soothe (a classic coping mechanism from hyper-stimulation) disconnect, de-stress, de-stimulate and control inputs. They “mono-task” and focus on immersive hands-on activities like baking, sewing or crafting. They claim their dependence on social media is overrated: one girl says “My parents Facebook more than I do.”

This is the first generation of “digital latchkey kids.” Though increasingly physically protected by parents, teens’ web behavior is not as closely monitored. But like the Gen X Latchkey Kids who created their own rules and regimes while parents worked, youth today are surprisingly filtering out what’s overwhelming to them online: avoiding certain Youtube videos or sites that they think are gross, inappropriate or disturbing.

So what? This is about your library’s survival!
As libraries try to figure out how to become relevant to their community, it is critical to understand the patrons/customers/ members/users who are growing up to be the ones who either support your library and become engaged with it, or ignore it as having nothing to offer them. When young people dislike something, it’s nearly impossible for parents to convince them that it is “good for them,” which means the parents may no longer support the library either because it can’t meet their family’s needs.

It is important to know that younger Millennials may be more receptive to your library website and social media – if it is designed well – because,

Unlike older Millennials who were pioneers in the “Wild West of social media,” today’s teens are “tech homesteaders” – they’re more savvy about how to use the internet, build “gated” groups, “hide in plain view”, curate and filter.



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Some Libraries Resist Assisting ObamaCare – Some Librarians Express Concerns

While I’ve been busy with other things, I let this issue raised at ALA slip past unnoticed. Issues in library world don’t go unnoticed for very long, especially when they deal with government intrusion. Apparently, during ALA 2013 Conference a video was played in which there was a White House appeal to public librarians to help Americans understand the new Affordable Healthcare Act insurance system that goes into effect whenever – maybe. This federal initiative to get public libraries involved in assisting people to sign up goes into effect October 1.

As much as I dislike relying on news media for any valid information, a Washington Times online article “Librarian foot soldiers enlisted to help with Obamacare enrollment” published June 29 states:

CHICAGO — The nation’s librarians will be recruited to help people get signed up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Up to 17,000 U.S. libraries will be part of the effort to get information and crucial computer time to the millions of uninsured Americans who need to get coverage under the law. The undertaking will be announced Sunday in Chicago at the annual conference of the American Library Association, according to federal officials ….

Libraries equipped with public computers and Internet access already serve as a bridge across the digital divide, so it made sense to get them involved, said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Libraries will be particularly important in conservative states that are not making much effort to promote the health law’s opportunities.

In Texas, the Dallas library system’s home page has linked to — the revamped federal website that is the hub for health law information. Embedding the widget on their sites is another way some libraries may choose to get involved, said Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Some libraries may decide to set aside some public computers for people seeking health insurance or extend time limits on computers, Hildreth said. Some may work with community health centers on educational events. Those will be local decisions with each library deciding how to participate.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is contracting with the Online Computer Library Center to develop an online toolkit and training webinars for librarians, Hildreth said. Librarians are likely to get questions on the health law from the public.
“Frankly whether we’re prepared or not, it’s going to happen, so the best way for us to serve the public is to prepare ahead of time,” Hildreth said.

Lissa Staley, a librarian in Topeka, Kan., specializes in health information, and already is helping people figure out their insurance options.

“I talked to a woman this morning who said, ‘I’m a single mom. I make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and my employer will only let me work part time.’ I gave her my card and we’re going to sort through some of her options,” Staley said.

“It’s never just a straightforward question,” Staley said. “It’s always a life story and we help sort through the pieces of where we can help.”

There are several disturbing issues raised by this report, and several unanswered questions about how and how much.

I understand that IMLS is a federal government agency that is required to carry out whatever mandates they are given by the White House, but is it really a local public library’s or librarian’s role to become an insurance counselor to the public? If the Topeka librarian was quoted accurately, she is assuming that role. Good for her. If that’s the way she chooses to serve her library users, and her boss, Board and community agree then that’s great for them to devote library resources to that project. But that’s just one library. What about the 17,000 other libraries who supposedly are being enlisted for the cause?

Is this federal program any different than when libraries used to provide federal tax forms? The IRS provided libraries with the forms to make available to library users. Everybody knew they could get forms “at the library.” But that’s all it was!

Librarians were not and were not expected to be tax advisors. Organizations might come to the library to offer tax filing assistance to citizens, but NOT LIBRARIANS!! If the IRS – still the culprit agency in charge of ObamaCare – wants to provide healthcare insurance information to libraries, fine, no problem. But the White House and the ALA teaming up to encourage libraries and librarians to roll out this new federal program is wrong.

At the LISNews blog the issue was posted on July 2, and some discussion followed. I suspect the discussion was so resistant to helping the White House that it has already dwindled off now. Some of the comments were:

I wouldn’t have the foggiest clue as to how to tell people which insurance they need to sign up for. How much training are we going to be given on this? Because I can just tell you right now, the people who are signing up for insurance aren’t going to know what insurance they will need and will expect us to figure it out for them. Sorry, but considering how confusing health insurance is, I wouldn’t know where to tell them to begin.

Have a set of useful websites with additional information on them (often to be found on government websites to help people) and steer people onto those sites. Providing information and access time doesn’t have to mean sitting there with them doing it.

‘Finding books about “rashes on their crotch” is far different from someone filling out complicated online health insurance forms which might require hours of work.’

Indeed. One is part of our job and one isn’t. We can do what we can for them but we are not specialists so it’s madness to think we should even try to be.

The chances are there will not be the computer resources available in public libraries to fill out the forms required under the new health care law. Librarians can not answer questions about which coverage options a patron may need, anymore than they can answer income tax questions. Was the ALA consulted? Not all public libraries are wallowing in computer resources.

All of these issues are valid and demonstrate a serious impact on public library resources. Did ALA or IMLS or anyone else even stop to consider this fact? Maybe it just doesn’t matter to those who are rolling out this federal program. “Just do it and make the best of it.” How typical of federal demands on public resources that don’t belong to them. Is IMLS providing funds for libraries to implement this program? Of course not! Is IMLS providing and training to implement this program? Of course not! What is ALA doing to provide funds or training? Well, I see one webinar being offered by one organization – Webjunction is offering one webinar on the impact of new healthcare laws and the library. But it’s already full, so better luck next time.

SafeLibraries blog posted some information and posed pertinent concerns on July 5, “Librarians Refuse ALA Obamacare Push; Wanted: Video of President Obama Speech at ALA Conference; Lenny Kravitz’s Message for Librarians.”

Despite the American Library Association’s [ALA] support for equal access and free speech, ALA agreed to allow the President to make a video statement to hundreds of librarians at the annual ALA convention, then to never display nor distribute it ever again. Some librarians bristle at this and related ALA problems with mishandling the message;….

The Sellout: American Libraries to Promote Obamacare,” by Lindsey Grudnicki, National Review Online, 1 July 2013:

So the public library – the institution whose foundational principles are the preservation of intellectual freedom and the unbiased promotion of learning – will become politicized to advance the Obama administration’s agenda.

This agreement between the ALA and the Department of Health and Human Services violates the so-called “Library Bill of Rights,” which declares that “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues” and that “materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” The partnership essentially dictates that librarians blindly lead those seeking healthcare to the welfare fountain and encourage them to drink – no matter the consequences, and no matter the myriad of concerns raised about the program. “All points of view” about the Affordable Care Act will not be represented; the proscribed materials (,, etc.) will clearly not offer true “health care literacy.”

What does ALA have to say to all this negativity toward helping the federal government implement new laws?

2 JUL 2013 3:14 PM

Hello everyone,

I want to apologize for the confusion. The partnership between IMLS and the Center for Medicaid Services means that both groups will work in the next coming months to prepare librarians for the number of patrons who will need help enrolling in the Affordable Care Act. ALA is only providing resources on the health law so that libraries can fulfill their mission to make information available to their patrons.

Many of you have attended the ALA Conference “Libraries and Health Insurance: Preparing for Oct 1” on Sunday. The session was recorded and will be available for sale soon. We’re sending updates to all of our ALA Washington Office subscribers: You can also get Washington Office news at

Additionally, IMLS announced that they will work with Webjunction to host online educational seminars about the new health enrollment requirements (see this press release

Warm regards,

Jazzy Wright
Press Officer
American Library Association, Washington Office

Bottom Line: I agree with StephenK who commented on LISNews blog, “Alas I don’t see this ending well.”


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