Strategic Plan

Learning. Culture. Community.

Mission

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library District strengthens and develops Ferguson and its people regarding lifelong learning and cultural literacy.  It brings the community together to create deeper bonds of commitment through shared experiences.  The library provides an inclusive public resource that welcomes every member of the community.  We believe in the freedom to read, to learn, and to discover.

Vision

To strengthen and develop the Ferguson community through lifelong learning and cultural literacy.

Guiding Principal

Use revenues to realize the Library’s mission in prudent and effective ways.

Strategic Plan

To make the most effective use of the money entrusted to the library, we have created a Strategic Plan to guide our priorities over the next few years, from fiscal year 2018-2019 to fiscal year 2020-2021.  Each fiscal year starts July 1 and ends June 30.

The seven goals create the big vision. Click any goal to see the many objectives that lead us to the larger goal. Click any objective to see clarifying notes, timeline, and progress so far.

 

  • Ongoing, starting in FY 18-19
  • Need to evaluate best methods for clarity and reach
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We retained the Prop L documentation in a public space, under “Prop L” on our website, so citizens could hold us accountable for what we said we would do before the 2018 vote. We added the “You Made This Possible…” page to record what we have done with the additional public funds, to be updated occasionally as progress was made. 

    Additionally, this Strategic Plan will also be updated as progress is made on the various objectives, as well as having paper versions available for patrons.

    Finally, as a public entity, our vital documents are open for public scrutiny; click here for Board of Trustees meeting documents

    We will maintain these avenues of communication, as well as provide real-time news about the library’s work via social media, and write the occasional article for the Ferguson Times. Part of our ongoing process is to consider improvements to our communications process, so our avenues of informing the public may expand in the future.

  • FY 18-19 and FY 19-20
  • Find and evaluate energy efficiency incentives and determine whether to leverage their gains as part of ongoing library improvement efforts
  • Progress: ACHIEVED, and ahead of schedule! –

    We’ve gone green! In December of 2018, we leveraged Ameren incentives to reduce upfront costs as we completed two big projects. 

    We moved all lighting to LED bulbs, improved the quality of light fixtures in the auditorium, and generally made the entire facility brighter, with a broader light spectrum.  Our first electric bill after the big change had savings of about 55% over the previous year’s bill for that month, meaning about $450.  The lights were predicted to pay for themselves in a couple of years, and are well on their way to doing that. 

    We also completed a big HVAC project, replacing two aging HVACs with ultra-high-efficiency models that are also capable of controlling humidity to keep our books from growing mold, and retrofitting three other HVAC units with multi-stage controllers to make them more efficient.  The cost savings from the HVAC updates will pay for themselves over the life of the new units. 

    We have greatly reduced the library’s energy use/carbon footprint.  We will continue looking for incentive program opportunities, but these two projects really made a difference for the library.

  • Ongoing, but first round in fall/winter of 2018
  • Find and evaluate smaller, specialized grants and judge whether applying would be an efficient use of time and funds
  • Progress: ACHIEVED for FY 18-19 –

    We successfully received the following:

    Libraries Connecting You to Coverage Grant – $500
    -Received $500 to put towards efforts to connect patrons with healthcare coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace.
    -Eight sessions were held and patrons applied and received healthcare coverage.

    American Creed Grant – $300
    – Received a copy of the American Creed DVD documentary for circulation in our collection, as well as a speaker to lead a community discussion about the documentary.

    LSTA Summer Reading Grant – $6,092
    – The LSTA Summer Reading Grant is distributed through the State of Missouri for the use of promoting summer reading through activities and events at the library.

    We considered and rejected a half dozen other grant opportunities that did not fit our needs as well.

  • FY 19-20 for public computers, FY 21-22 for staff computers
  • Use one of the LSTA technology grants for big technology projects.  Current plan has public computers being replaced in 2019; LSTA grant would pay most of the costs if we win the grant
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS, APPLIED for FY 19-20 grant –

    As of 2/20/2019, we applied for an LSTA ladder grant to update 16 public computers, update 10 programming/instruction laptops, add 2 Chromebooks for our Lego League robotics team, add 10 tablets for STEM/STEAM programming, upgrade our hardware firewall and integrate internet filtering technology into the device, update 3 printers, and update 5 monitors.  If we win the grant in mid-April, we will get $45,500 worth of technology for a local match of $5,800. 

    If we do not win the grant, we will have to rethink and reprioritize our purchasing, and make do with less.

  • Ongoing in once-per-year fundraising cycles
  • We had a lot of people from all over the country donate to the library in 2014.  We have been going back to this list of donors about once a year to ask if they will give again.  We expect, and have seen, the amount we get from this group drop dramatically as we move away from 2014.  We seek to make this yearly process more efficient, to maximize the gain versus cost in staff time.
  • Progress: ACHIEVED for FY 18-19 –

    We greatly improved the process in our November/December 2018 fundraising from this group of generous donors.  We reduced staff time by about 95% for the actual sending of the 2018 appeal, compared to previous years, thanks to careful planning and using an inexpensive emailing service.  We also strategically targeted who would get which stage of our 3-stage appeal, to keep from annoying these donors.  One thing that helps is that we give them an update each year.  You can find the Nov/Dec 2018 letter here.  In this last fundraising campaign, these good people gave the library about $8,750.   We will continue working on the efficiency of this process next fiscal year.

  • FY 19-20
  • Determine if these grant opportunities can help meet our mission, and help with big projects
  • Progress: NOT YET BEGUN, set for FY 19-20

 

  • FY 18-19
  • Allow growth in the diversity of services to adult patrons, including senior patrons and patrons with special needs, and improve consistency, quality, and responsiveness of those services
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We hired Rachelle Brandel, with a Master’s of Science in Library and Information Sciences, as Adult Services Librarian in June of 2018, and adult services have blossomed in a wide variety of areas.  We also have a much more robust suite of offerings for senior patrons, homebound patrons, and patrons with special needs.  Another successful area of focus is on economic development and job seeking skills.

  • Evaluate at beginning of each fiscal cycle and implement changes when most effective
  • Evaluate needs, evaluate fitness of current staff to meet those needs, follow through via changes in duties and/or promotions
  • Progress: ACHIEVED for FY 2018-19 –

    We conducted a thorough restructuring of full time staff.  We have retained or established 4 professional positions – Director, Adult Services Librarian, Children’s Librarian, and Technical Services Librarian – and one full time para-professional position, Circulation Lead.  This included restructuring the reporting tree.  Every job description was rewritten and expectations were increased and clarified to better realize the potential of our talented staff members.  We have seen improvement in every area of library operations since this change.  

    In conjunction, we also restructured the part-time positions, meaning a half-dozen public-service circulation positions and one new shelver position.  We have made scheduling and desk coverage far more efficient and consistent, with better trained desk staff.  Again, we have seen improvement in every area of circulation and shelving operations.  We have even realized unexpected efficiencies in operation, as the new desk schedule structure allows a full time employee to supervise every shift, and when someone calls in sick, we can often make do with that full time employee working at the desk for more of the shift than usual. 

    This total restructuring has proven to radically improve our ability to fulfill our mission.  We expect only minor changes in the next couple of fiscal years, since the new structure is already so stable and effective.  

  • Yearly, after shifts in staffing have taken place
  • Progress: ACHIEVED for FY 18-19 –

    During the thorough staffing changes at the beginning of the fiscal year, we solved most of our staffing needs by changing job descriptions and schedules, along with hiring an Adult Services Librarian.  After that reorganization was finished, we determined the only remaining need was for more and better shelving.  We established a new part-time shelving position and filled it in September of 2018.  We will do the same kind of evaluation next fiscal year.

  • FY 18-19
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We established the position of Circulation Lead with specific expectation of handling staff training, under the supervision of the Adult Services Librarian.  The Circulation Lead is now in charge of setting standards, timeline, and procedures for each of the many kinds of training we do.  We have monthly all-staff meetings with training built in, regular retraining live at the desk, and special training sessions as needed.  Part of that process is to solicit feedback, measure progress, and adjust training methods as needed.

  • FY 18-19
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    As of 2/21/2019, the administrative staff members that do evaluations have a plan for how to ask about special training needs in the written evaluations, with the expectation of also talking about needs during the evaluation review meeting.  We have not yet pinned down wording.  We will do that when we edit and prepare evaluation documents in March of 2019.

  • Each year
  • Libraries and other tax-funded institutions are exempted from the new minimum wage laws, but we still need to be competitive in the workplace in order to find and retain quality employees.
  • Progress: NOT YET BEGUN –

    We already have a process in place whereby we evaluate salaries according to what is competitive in the marketplace for the positions we offer, that we expected to do every few years.  It will be important to do that process every year for the next few years so we can keep abreast of wage changes for the kinds of employees we are hoping to attract and retain.  As of 02/21/2019, we do not know yet what impact this will have on the budget, as we have not yet reached that stage of the budget planning process.

 

  • FY 18-19 and FY 19-20
  • Progress: ACHIEVED for FY 18-19 –

    So far in FY 18-19, we have greatly improved our ability to identify and serve various special populations and regions in Ferguson.  We have increased our reach into areas of the community we had struggled to reach before, such as having programming in and near the apartment complexes on the south-east corner of Ferguson.  We have reached out to local home bound patrons at centers like Aging Ahead and Oak Knoll Nursing facility, providing library materials and tailored programs, as well as facilitating residents’ access to special services like the Wolfner Talking Book and Braille Library from the Missouri State Library.  We have worked with Citywalk, the Ferguson Special Business District, and other local area businesses to promote business and assist entrepreneurs.  We have reached out to local community artist groups such as the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Quilters, Good Shepherd Art Gallery, and the Flower Basket Quilters for promotion of local artists.  We have a more robust homebound service, bringing library materials to those who have no way to get to the library.  We have created new programming partnerships with the YMCA, Urban League, Save our Sons, and many other organizations to serve various patron groups in their own neighborhoods and here at the library.  We have also increased the number and variety of programs with local schools and daycares, such as having literacy events with teachers at Griffith Elementary and bringing books to a new daycare.

  • FY 19-20
  • Influencers, in this case, means individuals that can help champion library services and it’s mission to patrons in their orbit of influence, such as leaders of non-profit organizations and churches, City of Ferguson employees, and patrons with large social networks, on the grounds that an excellent way to advertise the services we offer and keep the library in high regard is by word of mouth and human relationships
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    In FY 18-19, we have certainly developed many new relationships with community influencers and strengthened existing relationships, but as of 02/25/2019, we are only just now doing so in the systematic way that the objective suggests.  Our daily work has heavily emphasized creating relationships with other organizations and with community leaders, but this year has had a proliferation of new relationships.  We are now more consistent in encouraging cross-promotion with other organizations on various social media platforms.  But, we expect to conduct a more systematic campaign in FY 19-20.  

  • Create plan of action in FY 18-19 and pursue plan in FY 19-20
  • Must also evaluate need to recruit outside help during creation process
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    As of 02/22/2019, we have concluded that we should get bids from marketing firms for the creation of logos and branding, as the project is beyond the abilities of current staff members, but we have not yet begun seeking bids. 

  • Ongoing, but initial push in FY 18-19
  • Progress: ACHIEVED for FY 18-19 –

    We have markedly improved communication among staff about programs and services, and instruction on how to market those programs and services is a regular part of staff training.  We expanded upon our customer service training with an emphasis in this area, as well as additional training for online resources such as ReferenceUSA.  For FY 19-20, we expect to develop training further after the library has developed branding and a marketing strategy.

  • Ongoing
  • Emphasis here is on tracking what schools are requiring of students for activities like reading lists, and what teachers are needing from outside organizations like the library
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS for FY 18-19 –

    We have, of course, been considering the needs of teachers and students for years, and incorporating those needs as we find them.  In FY 18-19, we worked on assessing those needs more intentionally by doing things like buying from the reading lists the teachers use with their students.  We have made book purchases and built programs around information we gathered from teachers and school administrators.  We expect these efforts to continue in FY 18-19 and increase in FY 19-20.

 

  • FY 18-19
  • To guide future expenditures in the most efficient and effective way, we need to make a list of upcoming improvements to the library’s building and grounds, then prioritize that list by which projects need to be tackled before others.
  • Progress: NOT YET BEGUN –

    As of 02/22/2019, we have an idea for how this process could work but have not initiated it.  The agenda for February’s Board of Trustees meeting includes first steps for this process.

  • FY 18-19 but benchmarking must be sustainable
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We leveraged the reporting tools available through the utility companies to create spreadsheets of energy use, and have a process in place for regular updates of that data.  

  • FY 18-19
  • In practice, this objective became a duplicate of the “research energy efficiency incentive programs” objective under goal 1, so that description is recreated here
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We’ve gone green! In December of 2018, we leveraged Ameren incentives to reduce upfront costs as we completed two big projects. 

    We moved all lighting to LED bulbs, improved the quality of light fixtures in the auditorium, and generally made the entire facility brighter, with a broader light spectrum.  Our first electric bill after the big change had savings of about 55% over the previous year’s bill for that month, meaning about $450.  The lights were predicted to pay for themselves in a couple of years, and are well on their way to doing that. 

    We also completed a big HVAC project, replacing two aging HVACs with ultra-high-efficiency models that are also capable of controlling humidity to keep our books from growing mold, and retrofitting three other HVAC units with multi-stage controllers to make them more efficient.  The cost savings from the HVAC updates will pay for themselves over the life of the new units. 

    We have greatly reduced the library’s energy use/carbon footprint.  We will continue looking for incentive program opportunities, but these two projects really made a difference for the library.

  • Timeline set by Capital Improvement Prioritization Plan
  • Progress: NOT YET BEGUN –

    We know this would be a vital project, so we made sure to put it on the objectives, but as a practical matter, it becomes one of the many projects to be prioritized within the CIPP.  As of 02/22/2019, that timeline has not been set yet.

 

  • FY 19-20
  • We want to be a forward-looking library with an adaptive and modern understanding of our mission, and that includes being willing to consider technologies that have not been traditionally associated with libraries.  That has to be tempered with making sure we are always fulfilling the library’s mission, and that the technologies are efficient and effective means to meet the need that has been identified.
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    This will always be “in progress”, a reminder of the attitude we need to take and tacit authorization to follow those new ideas.  As of 02/22/2019, we have identified needs and considered some non-traditional technology options (wifi hotspots, specialized automotive tools, etc), but have not yet moved on creating a new category of materials, either because it was out of mission, or too expensive, or not practical to accomplish.  We have gotten a couple of hotspots so we can evaluate whether they will be practical and affordable to circulate; they are currently used by staff when they conduct programs out in the community.

  • FY 18-19 
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We radically rethought how we did ordering.  Instead of having one or two staff who do all the ordering, we have spread that task among 5 staff members.  Each one has specific areas of specialty that they are encouraged to make their own – i.e. one staff person has responsibility for large print books, and another has the books on computer science, and a few of them split music and movies.  We also encourage other staff to offer suggestions.  All the ordering then gets overseen by a staff member who makes sure we are not duplicating orders or neglecting a section.  As a result, the quality and quantity of books, music, and movies have improved significantly this year.  It is a more complicated system, but it yields much better results, and achieves the objective of allowing both diversity of viewpoint and encouraging staff to develop specialization in specific areas of the collection.  

  • Ongoing
  • This objective includes physical and digital resource, but in practice it is digital resources that need more training and are most likely to be overlooked.
  • Progress: IN PROCESS –

    This objective will always be ongoing because we are always developing and changing the resources we make available to patrons, especially the digital offerings (various research databases, Overdrive ebooks, Hoopla movies and music, etc.).  As of 02/22/2019, we have had a few training sessions on digital resources.  We created and ordered various informational handouts for patrons and staff on these resources.  We have a series of trainings planned for spring of 2019.  For the physical collection, staff are already more knowledgeable in this area, but everyone gets updated whenever a collection piece gets moved or when there is an ongoing large project to improve the collection.

 

  • FY 18-19
  • The idea is to develop an efficient process whereby a “default” survey can be modified for specific use cases and utilized across various situations; to create a frame on which to build the tool we need at any given time.  This can be used to survey patrons needs, get feedback on a specific program, ask staff members for opinions, and a host of other uses.
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    As of 02/22/2019, we have determined that Google Forms will be the most likely tool to allow both online and paper surveys to be easily created.  Staff members have been experimenting with Google Forms and have a general plan, but have not yet created the default survey or tested all aspects of the process.  We have an expectation of finishing this by May so we can use it for various summer reading program surveys.

  • FY 18-19 
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    This objective is most likely to build off of the previous objective, with the additional considerations of when and how to best ask for staff feedback.  As of 02/22/2019, we have not addressed this objective beyond the beginnings of creating the general survey tool.  

  • FY 18-19
  • Emphasis on determining times of highest need and modes of interaction
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    We implemented this in late 2018 and have made a number of modifications based on staff feedback.  We divide each day into 2 hour blocks of time and then log the number of times, in each block, that staff answer reference questions, give directions, help a patron with the fax and copier, answer questions over the phone, and help patrons at the public-access computers.  This information is then recorded in spreadsheets and used to determine staffing needs, which hours the reference librarian should be at the desk, and similar questions.

  • Ongoing
  • Progress: Achieved for FY 18-19 –

    With the new staffing structure, the professional librarians were also each given broad domains of responsibility (i.e. cataloging, or children’s services, or programming for special needs patrons).  They are expected to keep up on developments in the profession within their domains, and bring that information to bear when planning services and programs.  We have implemented a bi-weekly meeting of the fulltime staff members to bring that information forward, to allow them to offer advice on decisions affecting the library, and to assign responsibility for various tasks.

  • FY 19-20
  • Outline methods and barriers for obtaining this information
  • Progress: NOT YET BEGUN –

 

  • FY 18-19
  • Progress: ACHIEVED –

    As of 02/22/2019, we have assessed technology needs and developed both a development plan for what technology to add in the next few years, but also a technology rotation plan whereing we replace technology before it has failed to the point of significantly impacting services.  See goal 1, objective “Leverage LSTA technology grant” for more details about what is coming.  The plan is to replace patron-facing technology in FY 19-20, and staff-facing technology in FY 21-22, and thereafter update technology on a 4 year cycle.  That means we do a big technology project every other year (instead of every year), while still having a 4 year cycle.  Not all technology needs to be cycled every 4 years (i.e. network switch), so some items are retained longer.  Other items are not expected to last 4 years (i.e. some of the printers that operate under high demand) are replaced as needed and are provided with a certain degree of redundancy so that a failure will not halt services (i.e. multiple printers that can handle patron prints so if one fails printing can continue).  This plan is permanent, but some of the details will be revisited every two years, such as assessing if technology needs to go away or if new technology needs to be added.

  • Ongoing
  • Evaluate such technology with an emphasis on meeting needs and maximizing benefits against costs, NOT just chasing new fads 
  • Progress: IN PROGRESS –

    Currently, the Director is in charge of the technology domain and therefore has chief responsibility for keeping abreast of technology ideas in the area, but other staff members also gather information.  This is accomplished by membership in mailing lists and online forums for this purpose, reading professional journals and websites, and communicating with other technology experts and administrators at the surrounding libraries.  This information is brought to bear in the bi-weekly meetings of fulltime staff members, the monthly meetings of all staff members, and comes under tight focus when considering technology upgrades.  In other words, this is a constant conversation, with discoveries and ideas surfacing often.  We always keep in mind that we are not as well funded as many other libraries in the area, and therefore cannot chase after every new opportunity; we pick and choose what will be the most effective use of taxpayer funds.

  • Ongoing
  • Should also implement course and material options for training purposes
  • Progress: IN PROGRES –

    We have purchased two wifi hotspots so we can evaluate their potential as circulating items.  We have discussed but then rejected purchasing ereaders for training purposes.  These kinds of decisions come up occasionally, and staff are encouraged to suggest training aids.