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Strategic Plan 2016-2019 Transitioning to a 21st-century Library










It might surprise some reading this document to see that Richland Library has among its goals to strengthen community cohesion, transform educational outcomes for youth and help break the cycle of poverty. As Chair of the Library Board of Trustees, I understand that this is the important work of a contemporary, 21st Century Library. This plan, and the process of creating it, is informed by the needs of the community and aligned with the library’s vision to enhance the quality of life we all enjoy. Libraries are more important than ever in creating strong and resilient communities. As a Richland County resident and library trustee, I am excited about the goals this plan articulates and the direction of Richland Library.

Nate Barber, Chair, Board of Trustees

Early in my library career a mentor shared this memorable statement with me: “ You aren’t in the library business. You are in the YOUR COMMUNITY NAME HERE business. “

That thought—that libraries are in the business of advancing their communities—has informed my approach to leadership and strategic planning ever since. When we regularly refresh our strategic plan, we get a chance to check in with the community in a formal way, to make sure our goals and priorities are in line with the county we represent and to ensure we are allocating our resources accordingly. While our strategic plan is something that guides our daily work, it is also aspirational; its purpose is to keep us energized and focused over the next three years, ensuring that the Richland Library system can meet the learning needs and goals of its residents.

Melanie Huggins, Executive Director 3

Nathaniel A. Barber, Chair Senior Vice President Community Development Officer South State Bank

Edwin B. Garrison, Vice Chair Senior Commercial Broker/Developer 4 Coldwell Banker United Commercial Division

Johnny Ray Noble, Treasurer Pastor and Educator Second Nazareth Baptist Church

Yvonne G. Stocker, Secretary Retired, AT&T and Richland School District One

Cheryl English

Program Coordinator II SC Developmental Disabilities Council

Betty L. Gregory Consultant

2016 Board of Trustees

Alethia P. Rearden

Assistant Health Center Coordinator Planned Parenthood

Katherine Swartz Hilton

Director, Center for Leadership Co-Director, McNair Center for Entrepreneurism, Institute for Leadership & Professional Excellence at Columbia College

James “Jamie” Shadd III Attorney and Owner Shadd Law Firm, LLC

Ida W. Thompson

Retired Richland School District One *Picture includes Library Staff


Staff Team Debbie Bloom | Manager, Local History Georgia Coleman | Chief Customer Officer Theresa Dawson | Library Associate, Sandhills Jake Duffie | Manager, Northeast Lucy Hamilton | Library Associate, Studio Services Thomas Hammond | Library Associate, Acquisitions Star-Shema Harris | Development Coordinator Phillip Higgins | Director, Marketing & Digital Strategy Peach Hoover | Manager, Checkout Melanie Huggins | Executive Director Anita McCray | Associate, Cooper Rasheen Richardson | Associate – Workforce Development, St. Andrews Sarah Sawicki | Planning & Projects Director Amy Schofield | Manager, Outreach Leslie Tetreault | Manager, Children’s Room Rebecca Thomas | Youth Services Supervisor Laura Isenstein | Consultant, Providence Associates

Community Advisors Karen Brosius | Executive Director, Columbia Museum of Art Major Chris Cowan | Richland County Sheriff’s Department Craig Currey | CEO, Transitions Dr. Baron Davis | Superintendent, Richland School District Two Jenny Garris | Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Lexington-Richland School District 5 Tiffany Harrison | Deputy Director, Richland County Economic Development Meghan Hughes | Executive Director, Engenuity Matt Kennel | Executive Director, City Center Partnership Kathy Olson | Senior Director, Education, United Way of the Midlands Susan McPherson | Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs, Columbia Chamber of Commerce Mary Jo Schmick | Director of Workforce Programs, SC Department of Employment and Workforce Dr. Traci Young-Cooper | Director of Richland County School District One’s Office of Extended Day Programs 6

Team Research and Readings Central Midlands Council of Governments and Richland County, SC (2010) Broad River Road Corridor and Community Master Plan. City of Columbia, SC (2005) The Master Plan for the Villages of North Columbia. City of Columbia, SC (2014) Plan Columbia: The Comprehensive Plan for Columbia, South Carolina: 2008-2018. tcp_final_edition_complete_document.pdf Garner, A. K. (Oct. 2014) Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, A report of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries. Washington, D.C.: Aspen Institute Institute of Museum and Library Services (Nov. 1, 2015) Museums, Libraries and Comprehensive Initiatives: A First Look at Emerging Experience. Washington, D.C. Institute of Museum and Library Services (July 2009) Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills. Washington, D.C. Knight Foundation. (2010) Soul of the Community: Columbia, SC Richland County, SC (2014) Lower Richland: Envisioning a Future. MasterPlans/LowerRichlandFinal.pdf Richland County (2015) Richland County Comprehensive Plan: Putting the Pieces in Place. Staff Engagement Day Dreamboard transcripts


Transforming Spaces, Transforming Libraries In 2013, Richland Library embarked on a journey to transform our physical spaces. The residents of Richland County voted overwhelmingly to support a $59 million bond referendum – a vote that confirmed our citizens’ faith in the library’s excellent stewardship of its resources. Beyond new paint and carpet, the library system needed a total re-envisioning to help catapult Richland County into the twenty-first century economy. Focused on the guiding principles “Learn. Create. Share.”, we began redesigning our facilities around unique learning journeys and experiences and the activities and accomplishments of customers, not around linear feet of shelving. But it wasn’t just our physical facilities that experienced a tuneup. We began looking at our materials, programs and services through the customers’ eyes, using human-centered design to ensure that everything we do supports an excellent customer experience. We wanted to ensure that every customer’s interaction with the library instilled surprise and delight, and reinforced their pride in this community anchor. To better reflect our “Learn. Create. Share.” philosophy, our physical changes and new ways to serve the community, Richland Library embarked on a refresh of our current Strategic Plan in the summer of 2015. Recognized as a ground-breaker among libraries worldwide, we strive to continue to lead the way for libraries to better serve the needs of their communities with innovative services, resources and spaces. We hope this process serves as a catalyst for other libraries and their strategic planning.




Strategic Planning for Transformation Some of the research materials we used during our process.

A strategic plan serves as a framework for the work we do. It influences both our day-to-day activities and special initiatives or projects. It is the foundation for the way we treat customers and each other, how we do business in the community, and the services, programs and materials we provide for our residents. To ensure input from all stakeholders – staff, Trustees, community leaders and customers – a team of staff members was formed to solicit feedback, brainstorm on issues facing our customers and community, and propose solutions. This team met throughout the year, utilizing human-centered design techniques to ensure the best ideas surfaced. In addition, the team read thousands of pages of research, ranging from other libraries’ strategic plans and innovative programs, to City and County development plans, to national reports on the current and future state of libraries within their communities. All 400 staff members brainstormed on issues facing the community at our annual Staff Engagement Day on November 11, 2015. Finally, we engaged both our Board of Trustees and community leaders in workshops to determine areas of need in their home neighborhoods and the county as a whole. With the knowledge and wisdom of all these stakeholders, Richland Library Executive Director Melanie Huggins drafted our new Strategic Plan. In May 2016, it was presented to our Board of Trustees for approval, and then work began on all the projects and initiatives needed to accomplish our goals.








SUMMER 2015 INFORMATION GATHERING A. Initiate Strategic Plan refresh B. Research strategic planning best practices C. Benchmark with other libraries, local school districts, other non-profits with similar customers and goals

A. Form staff team B. Begin identifying focus areas C. Read all background information D. Engage staff in brainstorming session at Staff Engagement Day. Staff participated in several exercises to identify needs they see in the community and in their customers.


A. Hone in on staff-identified foc i. Community Cohesion ii. Education iii. Poverty iv. Business and governme B. Hire outside facilitator familia C. Include in Agenda i. Review importance of s ii. Review previous library iii. Hear about other public iv. Review work done so fa v. Review needs of comm vi. SOAR (Strengths, Oppo activity to identify what






A. Research Needs of the Community i. Read neighborhood Development Plans from city & county ii. Ascertain customer feedback from Community Conversations B. Research trends in libraries i. Read reports from Institute of Museum & Library Services, the Aspen Institute, Urban Libraries Council




A. Hold staff team workshop to determine focus areas B. Continue to identify customer and staff needs C. Research best practices of other libraries and organizations with similar goals





ent ar with forward-thinking libraries



strategic planning y accomplishments c libraries’ best practices ar by staff team munity as identified by staff team ortunities, Aspirations, Results) t’s missing

A. Present draft to library’s Public Services Managers and staff team for review and feedback B. Present draft to Community Advisors for feedback

A. Communicate i. All staff email ii. Send final SP to Community Advisors with thanks iii. Thank and reward staff team for work and input


cus areas







A. Executive Director takes all the input and writes the first draft B. Draft new plan and solicit feedback from team


A. Present draft to Board of Trustees B. Revise based on their feedback



––––––––––– JULY 2016 PUT IT IN ACTION A. Determine projects that align with new goals and objectives B. Communicate projects to staff and form teams to do the work. C. Begin working on projects


Continuing a Tradition of Excellence Previous versions of the Strategic Plan focused on three main areas: • Enhance the Customer Experience • Engage Our Team • Advance Our Community These solid focus areas remain the bedrock to our mission and vision at the library. This new iteration of the Strategic Plan re-envisions those three tenets through the lens of the current market, capitalizing on input from staff, the Board of Trustees, residents and community leaders to ensure we are focused on the right issues. What follows are the goals and outcomes for our community and a sampling of the projects through which we hope to achieve these outcomes.

Richland Library North Main, the first location to open after renovations, offers spaces designed for customers to learn, create and share.



Enhance the Customer Experience


Engage Our Team


Advance Our Community 15

Enhance the Customer Experience Inspiration Putting the customers’ experience first is key to the mission of the library. We embrace learning as one of the key tenets of a library’s responsibilities and want to ensure that the residents of Richland County experience excellent customer service as they embark on their learning journey. Books continue as a mainstay of the library’s collection, supported by digital resources, movies, music and many other formats. But learning takes many paths in today’s twenty-first century library. From maker-spaces to sewing classes, early literacy interventions and career coaching, we’re inspired to find new ways to serve our super-users, entice new customers and enhance current services.


Projects | Enhance the Customer Experience

Our customers are happier, smarter and more productive by interacting with us. Richland Library will be a preferred destination and point of pride for our community. OUTCOME: The community has an increased awareness of the library’s value. PROJECT | Revise meeting room policies and include outdoor spaces so that customers can present, play and share freely GOAL 1

OUTCOME: Our customers and partners co-create and present programs and learning opportunities in our libraries. PROJECT | Quality audit of programming OUTCOME: Richland Library shows up in communities in unexpected and unconventional ways.

Make it more convenient and delightful to interact with the library. OUTCOME: Our commitment to an enhanced customer experience guides and informs the design of all services, projects and initiatives. GOAL 2

PROJECT | Outcome measurement: testing and adopting methods that consistently measure project outcomes OUTCOME: Existing customers use more library programs, collections and services. PROJECTS | Website Redesign • Social Equity Audit of Policies


Engage our Team Inspiration If the Strategic Plan is the library’s backbone, our staff is its lifeblood – continuously flowing from one customer and project to another, all while maintaining professional excellence and outstanding customer service. An engaged staff – folks who are valued for their expertise, enjoy what they are doing, know what is expected of them and have the tools with which to do it – will be better able to provide excellent service to their customers. Whether we are teaching seniors to use their eReaders, helping children learn to read or sharing our expertise with fellow staff members, we want our staff to have the skills, confidence and support they deserve.


Projects | Engage Our Team

Our culture of caring and learning creates a workplace where staff find personal meaning in their work and feel they are making a difference in the community. Be the most progressive and sought-after employer in the county. OUTCOME: The diversity of library staff, in its many forms, increases to further an inclusive culture. PROJECTS | Increased Diversity • Open Interview OUTCOME: Policies and practices support a work-life balance that results in engaged staff and loyal customers. GOAL 1

PROJECT | Play Initiative OUTCOME: Staff are rewarded and recognized for their accomplishments. PROJECT | Celebrate and sustain excellent internal and external customer service OUTCOME: Staff are empowered with the tools and knowledge to excel in their work. PROJECT | Create a robust intranet

Staff are invested in the community and committed to the mission of the library. OUTCOME: Staff are encouraged to pursue, develop and share special interests and talents. GOAL 2

PROJECT | Create a methodology for affinity groups for like positions and interests OUTCOME: Staff serve as respected experts in a variety of fields and are consulted for their talents and expertise.


Advance Our Community Inspiration Nineteenth-century industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie said, “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.� In this, the twenty-first century, libraries continue to serve as that spring in the desert, but now branch out into the community in so many more ways. A library truly serving its community offers safe haven for intellectual discovery, not only in the books we house, but in the programs we offer and the organizations we connect. The strategic planning team sought to continue Richland Library’s history of advancing our community with the following projects.

Projects | Advance Our Community

Richland Library is a vital partner and catalyst for bringing diverse peoples together to solve community problems. We believe that continuous, customized learning for all ages is the foundation for a strong economy and high quality of life. Help create a strong and resilient economy. OUTCOME: We are viewed as valued partners to elected officials and business leaders in support of economic and community development. OUTCOME: We help grow and support creative individuals and communities within the county. GOAL 1

PROJECT | Arts to entrepreneurship: Turning creativity into careers OUTCOME: Library facility improvements serve as catalysts for greater investment in neighborhoods and increased opportunities for residents.


OUTCOME: Job seekers and entrepreneurs see the library as vital to their employment, career and business development aspirations.

Projects | Advance Our Community (Continued) Strengthen community cohesion. OUTCOME: There are an increased number of opportunities for diverse groups of people to convene, communicate and learn together. PROJECT | Social Awareness Task Force


OUTCOME: Neighborhoods recognize and celebrate their assets and strengthen their identities. PROJECT | Cultural asset mapping OUTCOME: Public, non-profit and private sectors convene at the library in an effort to solve community problems. PROJECT | Develop method of solving community problems

Transform educational outcomes for youth. OUTCOME: The level of access to high quality out-of-school time opportunities increases. PROJECT | Awareness campaign promoting importance of quality out-of-school time GOAL 3

OUTCOME: Parents and caregivers have the knowledge and support necessary to help their children be successful in school. OUTCOME: Partnerships and services that support the path from high school to careers and college are strengthened.


Projects | Advance Our Community (Continued)

Richland Library is a vital partner and catalyst for bringing diverse peoples together to solve community problems. We believe that continuous, customized learning for all ages is the foundation for a strong economy and high quality of life. Help break the cycle of poverty. OUTCOME: Learning outcomes and access to educational opportunities of those living in poverty in Richland County are increased. GOAL 2

PROJECT | Lower Richland library service OUTCOME: Partnerships with service providers are created and strengthened, eliminating barriers for those customers with specific, basic needs.

Here Comes Kindergarten emphasizes early literacy and parental involvement.



Richland Library’s parking lot is transformed into a Pop-Up Park to host Grammy-Award winning duo The Okee Dokee Brothers in April 2013.

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24 • 803.799.9084 • Columbia, SC

Strategic Plan Process 2016-19  

A documentation of Richland Library's Strategic Planning Process from 2016 through 2019.