Challenged by rapidly increasing public use of Woodland Library, its Board of Trustees has met for a 2008 Strategic Planning Session on July 12 from 9 am to 3 pm. One clear and basic indication of elevating Library activity is the fact that book circulation has roughly doubled since 2002.

Swiftly changing demographics over this time period (2002 – 2007), within “underserved” areas of the public, such as teenagers, seniors and Latinos, are also presenting significant demands upon library attention and resources.

Teenagers represented about 8% of Woodland’s 2002 population, rising by half to nearly 12% in 2007. As of June, 2008, the Woodland Library had 25,222 patrons, nearly 30% of whom are juveniles. Seniors are gauged to be nearly 20% of local residents.

Latinos were about 39% of the local public, five years ago, while currently estimated to be close to 44%. Woodland’s 2007 population is believed to be more than 51,000. Woodland Library had 4,159 new patrons in 2007.

Strategic planning goals are broadly outlined for the board (and public) as: clearly identify desired directions, prioritize directions and align all resources to support these directions. Resources are described as: staff, budget, space, collections, programs, website, and measurement and evaluation.

Four elements are identified to exist within the library’s basic goal of “constancy of purpose,” in the midst of these accelerating public needs. These elements are: mission, vision, values and measures, consideration of which structures and informs the board’s review and update.

Mission is stated as the “promise made to customers and funders that identifies who will be served, what they will receive and for what purpose.” Vision “describes the library in the future perfect sense, a work picture to spur the imagination for the possible.” Values is “to clarify the enduring principles for which the library stands and guides decision-making for everyone (board, staff, funders, volunteers).” Measures are “high level measurements that allow decision-makers and stakeholders to follow progress.”

“In accord with the mission stated by the American Library Association, the Woodland Public Library seeks to provide leadership, promotion and improvement of the library’s information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

A vision statement for the library declares that “Woodland Public Library embraces the diversity of the community and provides a central resource for information, learning, recreation and enjoyment. Its broad goal is to offer opportunities for all people to participate fully in a rapidly changing world.”

Recommendations by the strategic planning committee are itemized as: make basic library services readily available to the community, build alliances with schools to deliver enriched services to [ ] children, provide a broad range of reliable information [ ], become a key focus of access to information technology resources [ ], and build stronger community ties by enabling remote access to the library.”

“Underserved” segments of the public are subjects of strategic goals which are described as: “Woodland children from birth to age 12 and their adult caregivers will have a year-round library program that develops their reading readiness and reading skills; [Latinos] will feel welcome and find library materials, programs and services to meet their needs; Woodland teens will perceive the library as a cool place; Seniors will find the library a key resource for information, education, recreation and community connection.”

Included within the meeting packet were city documents from the 1990s (plus draft statements of 2008 revisions) which articulate community identity and expressions of goals and general policy, as well as more recent community needs assessment data and relevant, planning material from the Public Library Association and the American Library Association.

Evaluation and assessment of library performance in terms of “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats,” serves as the meeting’s initial exercise, followed by a “review of updated (current) influences,” described as “demographics, library trends and community input.” Thereafter, a “re-evaluation” is conceived and expressed in order to best engage these influences and maintain good library performance.

Finally, a “brainstorming” component is conducted which includes subjects of updated “priorities and directions.”

Woodland’s “Strategic Planning Goals (1990s)” asserts three basic categories, “quality of life, community vitality and government effectiveness.” Quality of life is recognized to include: “youth services and programs, education, facilities and resources. Community vitality contains: “technology, downtown [ ], and economic vitality.” Government effectiveness is identified by aspects of: “customer services, staff development, communication, city process improvement.”

It’s obvious that Woodland Library may be seen to play pivotal roles within all of these key areas of public policy. Perhaps no other single municipal organization functions so expansively and valuably within community fulfillment of a “high quality of life.”

The new draft of an updated municipal mission statement is: “our mission is to anticipate and implement the core services essential for a high quality of life through leadership, innovation and a commitment to our community.” It’s evident that Woodland Library plays an enormously significant role within public policy concerning achievement and maintenance of a “high quality of life.” for this community.

The library board’s challenge is to lead and innovate in order to manifest progress in meeting escalating community needs. The strategic planning process is a crucial element for such progress.

Part Two of this Yolo Sun Serial News Report will soon be published, which includes formal findings, results and actions regarding Woodland Library Board of Trustees’ exercise of strategic planning.