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Seaford District Library Strategic Plan: Education and Social Engagement

Introduction: Designing the Future of the Seaford District Library

Through traditional library services and partnerships with social service and cultural organizations, Seaford District Library has empowered customers to create and share knowledge and strengthen social relationships to achieve personal goals and objectives. Seaford DistrictLibrary has the potential to expand its role and impact by engaging all community members, particularly the disenfranchised and marginalized, in advancing the quality of life through social engagement and knowledge sharing. To promote social and civic engagement, and support the Seaford community to achieve its potential, Seaford District Library must increase its capacity. Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Libraryarticulates the library’s new mission and vision, identify obstacles and challenges ahead and proposes strategies to create its future.

Self-Directed Education and Community Development

Seaford District Library has been gradually recreating itself as a center for self-directed education in the Seaford community. It has become the place for individuals to do more than borrow books. One can conduct research, complete online job applications, write resumes, investigate employment opportunities or career possibilities and obtain financial, health, and nutrition information from experts. Book clubs and programs provide opportunities for individuals to learn from each other, socialize and form friendships. One can exercise, dance or listen to music at concerts. Children’s programs offer creative interactive learning experiences for children of all ages. A customer noted the library is, “a safe place for children to come to and read.” The library facility welcomes community members to study and work or to simply enjoy“the quietness to read when kids are at school.” In addition to books and electronic resources, technology, in the form of computers, the Internet, wi-fi, copiers, and fax machines, empower customers to explore their interests, create and share knowledge. One customer’s comment that the library’s services are “life-enriching” summarizes the overall perception of Seaford DistrictLibrary customers. The library gives him and all community members “the opportunity to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do.”

Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Library propose strategies to accelerate Seaford District Library’s development as the community center for self-directed education. The goal is to engage “more people, from more diverse backgrounds, for more diverse reasons” in a greater variety of transformative learning opportunities (Gray, 2018). The path of Seaford District Library’s development is comparable to the journey of other public libraries across the country that, in the words of Peter Gray “has been gradually redefining themselves as centers for self-directed education, writ large, rather than specifically places for books, and they are beginning to embrace the idea that education comes not just from what we traditionally call study, but also from creating things, playing and socializing” (Gray, 2018). This plan articulates the new vision and mission of the SeafordDistrict Library to ensure the process of redefinition is intentional and repositions the library as the civic hub of the community. This plan not only defines self-directed education, but also outlines the process to explore the Seaford community’s aspirations and proposes strategies to grow the library’s capacity to provide traditional and non-traditional learning opportunities from instructor-led to active, collaborative, and problem-based.

Becoming the center of self-directed education will also advance Seaford District Library’s role as the facilitator of social capital in the Seaford community. Social capital is the glue that holds societies together. It is the network of interpersonal relationships among people who live and work in a community and the associated norms, values, and understandings that facilitate their operation for mutual benefit. Social capital is the connection among people based on common identities, such as family, friends, and ethnicity, or bonds established through voluntary associations and social activities. For sociologist Eric Klinenberg, public libraries build social capital. In his view, they are an example of social infrastructure, the physical places that shape the way people interact. Public libraries invite diverse people to congregate, interact, and socialize, creating mutual understanding and promoting the formation of enduring and resilient personal connections. These social bonds contribute to community health and motivate collaboration to address community-wide issues (Kleinenberg, p. 16).

The following quote from Klinenberg explains how social interaction creates interpersonal connections and informs the future design of self-directed education opportunities:

People forge bonds in places that have a healthy social infrastructure – not because they set out to build community, but because when people engage in sustained, recurrent interactions, particularly while doing things they enjoy, relationships inevitably grow (Kleinenberg, p.5).

Self-directed educational opportunities attract people of diverse backgrounds who have common or similar interests, needs, and aspirations. Activities that encourage participants to share personal experiences, collaborate, or engage in the playful competition will strengthen interpersonal bonds and build bridges that, with reinforcement, can continue long after the experience. An individual’s wants and needs motivate self-directed learning, but the social experience of learning promotes mutual understanding, empathy, caring, and friendship, the building blocks of social capital. Enjoyable social activities, like a book discussion or attending a concert, provide opportunities for people to connect with each other in purposeful ways. It’s unnecessary to enumerate the divisions in society and the breakdown of civility that make it increasingly difficult for people to collaborate to solve community problems. Seaford District Library has the potential to leverage social engagement to address economic and social disparities impacting the segments of the Seaford community.

Today’s Achievements are the Foundation of Tomorrow’s Successes

Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Library focuses on strategies to expand Seaford District Library’s organizational capacity to deliver equitable opportunities in self-directed education that fulfill community aspirations. Capacity building consists of creating new and expanding existing organizational infrastructure to deliver greater opportunities in self-directed education that reflect community-wide priorities. This plan articulates strategies to align human resources, communication, collection, facility, management, funding, customer service, and partnerships with the library’s new mission and vision.

Capacity building began in the Discovery Stage of the strategic planning process.2 SeafordDistrict Library staff and trustees met to discuss the library’s recent history to identify their most significant accomplishments and explore the factors contributing to their successes. They shared stories about moments of exceptional customer service, caring relationships, significant partnerships, inspired leadership, impactful programs, and other peak experiences to discover the library’s strengths or creative forces. Strengths are staff’s skills, assets, capabilities, values, traditions, practices, behaviors, proficiencies, attitudes, philosophies that contributed to their success. Five core strengths were identified:

• Community Focused

• Outstanding customer service

• Winning teamwork

• Partnerships

• Resourcefulness

The Appendix explains the methodology of the strategic planning process.

These strengths are the foundation upon which the re-imagined Seaford District Library will grow.

In the next stage of the strategic planning process, the Dream Stage, Seaford District Library staff and trustees wrote new mission and vision statements to explain the library’s purpose, the significance of public education, and its power to transform the community. Additionally, each strength was translated into dreams, visions of the future library when each strength is always present and directs every aspect of the library – its culture, operations, teamwork, leadership, management, communication, service, and budget – to achieve its mission and vision. Collectively, the dreams present a compelling picture of the future Seaford District Library to inspire and direct its creation. Each dream links past accomplishments to future possibilities.

The dreams, mission, and vision statements answer the three essential questions of strategic planning:

• Who are we?

They express the library’s distinct identity to unite stakeholders in a shared purpose.

• What do we do?

They explain how the library promotes the creation and sharing of knowledge in the community.

• Why is it important?

They describe how knowledge builds social capital and facilitates civic engagement to enrich lives.

The Seaford District Library

When we vividly imagine our future- how Seaford District Library will function, what it is likely to become – we bring the future powerfully into the present. We will create the library of our dreams.


We partner with the community to provide resources for individual and community success and development.


Our community thrives by sharing knowledge.

Community Focused

The library is at the center of the Seaford community and touches all lives. We are inclusive and welcome everyone to the library regardless of their beliefs and background. We serve everyone, especially underprivileged and underrepresented communities. Through services, programs, and outreach we enrich all lives and strengthen the social bonds necessary for a healthy, vibrant and inclusive community. We educate individuals and promote civility. We create a safe and welcoming environment that empowers people to learn and play, socialize and strengthen relationships, study, browse and research. Through enlightening programs and events and dialogue, we facilitate the development of shared understanding and common purpose strengthening our community.

Outstanding Customer Service

Personal relationships are at the heart of our partnership with customers. We welcome everybody to the library like it’s our home. We invite all neighbors to become our partners in self-directed education. We are community members’ advocates and friends, giving each person individual attention and caring assistance. We know customers by their names and are dedicated to their success. We employ our knowledge of educational resources and skills as information professionals to assist customers to solve their problems and fulfilling their dreams. We listen attentively to understand their diverse perspectives and to use this knowledge to design and deliver services that effectively address their needs. By valuing customers and satisfying their needs, we retain their trust, goodwill, and loyalty.

Winning Teamwork

United by our commitment to the library’s vision and mission, we support each other personally and professionally. We respect our different personalities and work styles, establishing common ground for mutual success. We genuinely care for each other, and act thoughtfully and generously, expressing enjoyment, concern, and compassion to strengthen collaboration. We inspire excellence in each other. We know each other’s work responsibilities and proactively support and assist each other to successfully achieve our goals. We readily share information and expertise that enables us to turn daily challenges into opportunities for excellence.


Long-term and short-term partnerships with state, county, and city government, social service organizations, and non-profits assist us to address the evolving needs of the Seaford community. We achieve outcomes beneficial to customers that we could not accomplish without the support and resources of partners.

Partnerships allow us to accomplish more than we could by ourselves. We can expand programming and outreach to reach new audiences as well as create and enhance opportunities for self-directed education. Partnerships assist with marketing library programs and services to heighten the use and awareness of the library. They are a cost-effective way to serve underserved populations, attract and retain new customers, and delight loyal customers with additional services. Partnerships are essential to achieving our mission and vision.

We are an attractive partner, offering potential collaborators a vision of community development, access to our customers, education resources, our expertise, a centrally located facility, and our community’s trust. We seek partners with common interests, who share our mission and philosophy, and whose purpose is the betterment of our community.


We manage ourselves and resources effectively to have the greatest impact on our community. We embrace traditional and non-traditional methods to create and deliver programs with wide appeal to the diverse interests, tastes, and needs of community members. A “can do”attitude motivates everything we do. We experiment with new services, programs, partnerships, and outreach in anticipation of customers’ evolving needs. If an initiative isn’t successful, we’ll try something new. Learning from both good and bad experiences is second nature to us.

We have perspective – the ability to distinguish what’s important from what’s not – which directs our behavior. By adopting a positive approach, even under the most difficult circumstances, future challenges and obstacles become surmountable and do not prevent us from achieving our goals and objectives. We embrace change as a strategy to improve individual job performance, teamwork, and service to customers.

Goals & Strategies

The following strategies are designed to release the positive potential expressed in the dreams to create the library the Seaford community deserves.

Goal One: Augmenting the Library’s Budget

The Seaford District Library Board of Trustees will create The Seaford District LibraryFoundation to build community support and advance the library’s vision by raising funds and managing investments to supplement, leverage, and stretch public dollars. The objective will be to increase both operating and capital budgets. The Foundation will be a separate 501(c) (3)organization led by its own director and board, staffed by experienced and knowledgeable volunteers drawn from the local philanthropic community. Structural links, such as library trustees serving on the foundation’s board, will ensure fundraising supports the library’s new direction.

Funding for the Seaford District Library has been barely enough to meet current operational needs and the future prospect is for flat or declining state support. Despite a history of excellent financial management, current resources can’t be stretched to implement the strategic plan and ensure the future viability of the library. Leadership’s focus must change from reactively managing budget shortfalls and identifying services or resources to be eliminated or reduced to proactively creating, supporting, and implementing value-added initiatives. The Seaford DistrictLibrary Foundation will serve as an innovation engine driving the development of the library.

Goal Two: Fundraising

The Foundation, Trustees, and Director will develop a focused and diversified fundraising strategy that includes a full array of fundraising channels. Strategies will identify potential donors from customers and service clubs to corporations and foundations. One important component of the fundraising strategy will be a technology plan to strengthen communication with donors through websites and social media.

The immediate need is for sustainable funding to hire a Branch Manager to assist the LibraryDirector. The Branch Manager will supervise and schedule staff, assist customers and manage daily operations to ensure the functionality of the facility, equipment, and technology, enabling the Director to engage in activities outlined in this plan from grant writing to community

engagement and developing new partnerships. The goals and strategies of this plan will be among the first fundraising needs addressed by the Foundation.

Goal Three: Racial and Social Equity

To ensure it creates opportunities for self-directed education for all community members, Seaford District Library will adopt a statement on Racial and Social Equity to guide its programs, services, policies partnerships, and community engagement. The Urban LibrariesCouncil’s Statement on Racial and Social Equality, which has been adopted by 144 public libraries across North America, is the leading example of such a statement:

As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity bycontributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic, and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:

• Eliminating racial and social equity barriers in library programs, services, policies, and practices• Creating and maintaining an environment of diversity, inclusion, and respect both in our library systems and in all aspects of our community role• Ensuring that we are reaching and engaging disenfranchised people in the community and helping them express their voice• Serving as a convener and facilitator of conversations and partnerships to address community challenges

Being forthright on tough issues that are important to our communities. Libraries are trusted venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities, and essential participants in the movement for racial and social equity. (

Seaford District Library Trustees can adapt this statement or write their own to shape the library’s role in addressing community challenges.

Goal Four: A Plan for Community Development

To take the lead in addressing those challenges, the leaders of Seaford District Library will have a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of community engagement and development summarized in this plan. This knowledge will inform their implementation of the strategic plan.

Among the leading practitioners of community development are John McKnight and PeterBlock, authors of The Abundant Community and Community and Stewardship, respectively. TheAspen Institute’s Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, outlines a new vision of public libraries consistent with the goals of this plan. Two organizations that have collaborated extensively with public libraries and can provide guidance to Seaford DistrictLibrary’s leaders are Leading Inside Out and The Harwood Institute. Eric Kleinenberg’sPalaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization and the Decline of Civic Life persuasively discusses the library’s critical role in the formation of social capital. Webinars on this topic is available from the American Library Association andUrban Libraries Council, among other professional organizations. Community development has become the focus of presentations at state and national library conferences.

Drawing upon these works, the leaders of the Seaford District Library will develop a plan of community development through self-directed education that includes engagement strategies, methods to explore and identify community needs, ways to leverage community assets, and processes for building capacity and addressing issues.

Goal Five: Growing the Proficiencies to Achieve the Seaford DistrictLibrary’s Mission and Vision

Performance expectations and standards for all library positions must be clearly redefined, communicated, and aligned to support the library’s strategic objectives.

This plan clearly expands the Library Director’s role and responsibilities. The Director will not only create the community development plan but also lead its implementation. A significant amount of the Director’s time and energy will be devoted to community engagement from building new and strengthening existing relationships and partnerships to translating educational needs into programs and services to securing their funding through the Foundation. These activities will require extensive leadership and management expertise, including well-developed communication, collaboration, negotiation, critical and creative thinking, decision making, and problem-solving skills. The expertise of Trustees must expand accordingly to support fundraising, community engagement, and public relations. The skills and knowledge of all staff must grow to introduce new and enhanced programs and services.

Increasing the availability of professional development opportunities for all staff is an effective way to build knowledge and strengthen individual and team performance. It is particularly important for the Library Director to be a member of ALA & PLA and regularly attend their conferences. In addition, the Maryland Library Association’s annual conference provides a local opportunity for selected staff to network and import new ideas to the library. Administering these staff development opportunities will become the joint responsibility of the Director and trustees.

Goal Six: Telling Our Story: Communicating the Library’s Mission andVision

Seaford District Library will actively promote itself and its achievements to build community-wide understanding and support. Self-directed education, social and civic engagement, and community renewal are its new story, which will be communicated at every opportunity through a variety of formats, channels, and languages. Performance measures (borrowing, queries, foot traffic), outcome measures (new knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned by customers), results from annual customer satisfaction surveys, and accomplishments of partnerships will be the story’s substance. An annual report, distributed in electronic and print formats, will summarize accomplishments and anticipate future achievements for all stakeholders, especially government officials, community leaders, and potential donors. The library’s website will continue to make educational resources accessible, promote programs, events, and community information, while social media will engage customers in sharing their library experiences and become learning communities. The Library Director and Branch Manager will routinely share with staff information about initiatives and achievements to strengthen their performance, deepen their commitment and facilitate their understanding of their contributions to advancing the library’s mission and vision.

Volunteers with marketing and promotion experience will be recruited from the community to assist in the development and execution of the library’s communication plan. The Seaford DistrictLibrary will join ALA’s Project Outcomes and implement its recommendations to capture and report the learning achievements of participants in programs. Leaders will identify key performance metrics and deploy technology to collect and report performance statistics. Thelibrary will collaborate with partner organizations to identify and report measures of the partnership’s successes.

Goal Seven: Redefining Partnerships

Seaford District Library’s reliance on volunteers to execute the communication plan demonstrates its importance to its future. Seaford District Library will likely never have administrative staff typical of most public libraries to manage and coordinate functions such as staff development, human resources, and public relations. Consequently, the Library Director will explore the potential for partnership organizations to volunteer their staff on an as-needed basis to perform a variety of library administrative tasks. Extensive community engagement has the potential to transform the entire community into partners, creating a large pool of volunteers capable of assisting the library in a variety of capacities. Community members have assets -experiences, skills, and knowledge – that can expand the library’s instructional capacity. Retirees with digital literacy skills, for example, can be recruited, assembled into teams, and scheduled to meet on-demand requests for technical assistance from individuals completing online job applications, writing and sending resumes, or searching online for employment opportunities. As new initiatives are developed, roles for volunteers will be identified in the planning process. Resources should be invested in strengthening the recruitment, training, and scheduling of volunteers to meet increased demand.

Most importantly, new partnerships will be formed, and current partnerships adjusted to empower people throughout the Seaford community to achieve their goals. The highest priority is to disrupt the cycle of poor education, poor job prospects, and dependency affecting many community members. To tackle this challenge, Seaford District Library will recruit people in the cycle to assist it and other partners design and delivering educational opportunities that not only address their problems but also realize their aspirations. Community involvement will increase the effectiveness of current partnerships. For example, the Delaware County Support Unit meets clients at the library to help with the ASSIST application process. The library in collaboration with the Delaware County Support Unit can recruit and train community volunteers to help their neighbors with the ASSIST application process at locations throughout the community, reaching people unable to travel to the library at the scheduled time. Seaford District Library will create a new leadership role for itself through community development. It will take the lead to recruit partners and transform shared resources into classes and programs that empower community members to address persistent problems and improve their own and the community’s welfare.

Goal Eight: School Readiness and Academic Achievement

The library will expand its roles in early childhood and prekindergarten learning for children from low-income families. Research indicates that children of low-income families are less prepared for kindergarten than children of higher-income families. The first step in this direction will be to initiate a planning process among stakeholders in early childhood education to coordinate their resources and focus their activities for maximum impact. A second step will be to incorporate Delaware Early Learning Foundations into the library’s preschool curriculum. Children’s staff should conduct outreach to low-income parents and caregivers to teach strategies and techniques to read to their children to contribute to the development of their literacy skills.

The library will also strengthen its partnership with the Seaford School District to assist in closing the achievement gap among students. All students entering the public school will receive a Seaford District Library card and receive grade-appropriate instruction to use physical and virtual resources to support their academic success. A long-term project will be to create of classes for elementary and middle school students, including book talks, to enhance reading comprehension and hands-on projects to introduce STEM concepts. The library’s proximity to Seaford’s elementary, middle, and high schools make it the ideal site for afterschool homework assistance and social academic activities for ‘tweens and teens. Well-designed participatory learning experiences created in partnership with the school system, the recreation department and other community learning resources will support and connect to school learning goals. Such learning experiences, for example, can be planned in coordination with the free summer lunch program for students.

Conclusions: New Possibilities

Organizations, like the Seaford District Library, are “constructions of the imagination and are, therefore, capable of change at the speed of imagination” (Watkins and Mohr, p., xxxii). Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Library was written, in large measure, to shift the perspectives and stimulate the imagination of staff and trustees, customers and community members, elected officials and government leaders, and civic and business leaders to design the best possible future for their library and community. According to the Aspen Institute, the role of the 21st-century library in the digital era is built on three key assets: people, place, and platform (Garmer, Ann. Rising To The Challenge ). Education, SocialEngagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Library leverages these assets to expand knowledge networks throughout the community with the library at its center and transform the physical library into the community’s living room, the safe and trusted place that brings diverse people together to strengthen personal connections and transform information into knowledge that fills gaps in community services. To realize this compelling vision will require dedication, persistence, and hard work from the leadership of the Seaford District Library.

Appendix: The Strategic Planning Process

Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Library is the product of a collaborative process, initiated by Director, Jerry Keiser, to produce decisions that clarify the library’s vision and mission, and reformulate its core services, products, and operations accordingly. At its core, this strategic plan initiates is about organizational change. In the words of John M. Bryson, author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, a strategic plan is the result of a “disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization (or other entity) is, what it does and why it does it”(Bryson, p. xii).

To initiate the strategic planning process, Bryson’s definition was translated into three fundamental questions about a library for its stakeholders to answer:

• Who are we?

What is the library’s brand, the distinct identity that unites staff in common purpose and inspires customers loyalty?

• What do we do?

What is the library’s purpose or business?

• Why is the library important?

What positive impact does the library have on the lives of customers and the well-being of the community? The companion question is “To who is the library important and why?”

Many procedures and tools are available to answer these questions. Anyone who has participated in strategic planning is likely to be familiar with SWOT analysis- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In producing fundamental decisions about the library’s future, planners investigate organizational resources and the social, political, and economic context in which it operates to identify advantages and disadvantages to achieving its objective, transforming its community, to ensure its longevity and prosperity.

The planning methodology of Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Library was different. It was based on the methodology and philosophy of appreciative Inquiry (AI). Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to organizational development that assumes “every organization has something that works right – things that give it life when it is vital, effective, and successful. AI begins by identifying this positive core and connecting organizational visions, plans, and structures to it in ways that heighten energy and inspire action for change.” (Doyle, 2013) AI is “a useful approach to change in any human system of any scale…” (Watkins and Mohr, p. 25).

Guided by Appreciative Inquiry, the planning process focused on:

• Mission and vision of the library

• Roles and relationships among staff

• Identity of the library in the community

• Relationship to customers and community partners

• Culture of the library

The process of planning the library’s future ascertained where it is, where it wants to be and how it will get there. The focus of this strategic plan was growth, development, and change on a large scale. Appreciative strategic planning was an inclusive and participatory activity with stakeholders, from front-line staff and Trustees to customers and community members, engaged in discovering what the library does best, what is appreciated most, and using this knowledge as the foundation of the library’s future.

SOAR was the tool employed to answer the three questions of strategic planning to design the future:


• What does the library really do well?

• What do these strengths tell us about staff’s skills and capabilities?

• How do we use these skills and capabilities to advance the library?


• How do we collectively understand outside threats?

• How can we reframe threats to see opportunities?

•How can we best partner with other organizations to address these opportunities?


• Who should we become?

• How can we leverage our strengths to make a difference for shareholders?


• How do we tangibly translate our strengths, opportunities, and aspirations into library services?

Positive questions drove the search for answers throughout the planning process. They:

• Produced practical and achievable strategies grounded in past and current achievements.

• Directed energy from planning the future to creating it.

• Focused attention on assets, such as strengths and aspirations, not deficits, like weaknesses and threats.

• Translated threats into opportunities that expand the range of possibilities for the library’s future.

• Created enthusiasm that fuels creativity strengthens engagement and deepens commitment to plan’s success.

The planning process consisted of four stages: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Delivery. In short, participants appreciated the best of Seaford Public Library, envisioned what it might become discussed what it should become, and innovated what it will become.


In the Discovery Stage, participants answered three questions about their recent past:

• What were our greatest successes in the last two years?

• What were the causes of these successes?

• How can we use this knowledge to address opportunities in our community?

Appreciative questions focused on positive experiences to learn about things that are working well – the successes – to find out what works and do more of it. People are usually willing to talk about what is wrong with their organization, but their conversation quickly turns to find culprits to blame for these problems, which rapidly drains their energy. AI-focused on what happens when things are at their best, which energized people to take control of creating their future.

Appreciative questions elicited stories about exceptional achievements that revealed the library score strengths. Core strengths are the assets, capabilities, values, traditions, practices, behaviors, proficiencies, attitudes, philosophies, and other factors that are associated with success. By focusing on the positive, participants’ stories became a springboard for the future, generating useful information about what is to be enhanced and built on as they re-imagine the library.

In addition, customers and community members were surveyed to learn their perceptions of thelibrary, their understanding of the current and anticipated social, economic, and technology trends shaping their community and recommendations for library services to address those trends.


In the Dream Stage, we explored each strength in depth. Encouraged by appreciative questions, staff and Trustees were asked to think about, remember, and describe the details of what they have seen, heard of, or imagined that really works. Their ideas were translated into written dreams or visions of the future of the library. Each dream described the library when the strength is fully integrated into every aspect of its services and operations.


In the Design Stage, strategies were identified to remake the library in the image of the dreams. Actions include but are not limited to:

• Expanded or new roles/jobs/relationships, new proficiencies

• Organizational structures, operations, and management systems/policies

• Organizational culture

• Information Technology

• Communication practices

• New, enhanced, and expanded services

• Outreach, community engagement, and partnerships

The strategies aligned the library’s culture, operations, structure, and services with its new vision and mission. They reflected the aspirations of staff and community members and their understanding of the library’s strengths and opportunities to expand its reach.


Education, Social Engagement, Community Development, and the Seaford District Libraryarticulates the library’s new vision and mission and propose services to ensure the library continues to satisfy the needs of its community. However, it is about much more than new and enhanced services. It is a collective autobiography with stakeholders authoring the next chapter of the library’s history. Each contributor had their own story, told in their own distinct voice, to share. Blending these stories into one cohesive narrative forged a stronger collective identity and distinctive sense of purpose that will strengthen stakeholders’ commitment to the plan and their ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles to complete its implementation.


Bryson, John M. Strategic Planning for Public and Non – Profit Organizations. 3rd Edition. SanFrancisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Doyle, Brandie. Jan. 31, 2013Appreciative Inquiry: Identifying Your Library’s existing strengths. Public Libraries Online. Retrieved from

Garmer, Ann. Rising to The Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries. The Aspen InstituteOctober 2014. Retrieved from

Gray, Peter. June 18, 2018. Libraries as Centers for Self-Directed Education. Psychology Today.Retrieved from

Klinenberg, Eric. Palaces for the People. New York: Crown. 2018.

Urban Libraries Council. Statement on Race and Social Equity. Retrieved from

Watkins, Jane Magruder and Mohr, Bernard J. Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination. San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. 2001.

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