Strategic Plan 2014 - Strategies & Outcomes

THINK AGAIN:  Strategies for Transformation 2025

1.  DEVELOP NEW LEARNING INITIATIVES FOR MAXIMUM USER VALUE & IMPACT

PPL is likely to have greater positive impacts on its users through interactive, transformative programs/services than through the passive lending/borrowing services it’s offered traditionally. In addition to offering high-quality learning experiences, these programs must attract more users to be truly high-impact. PPL’s program portfolio should include many offerings that draw upon the library’s unique collections. Finally, the public’s needs will change at an accelerating rate. PPL has to stay out in front of those changes to be credible as a knowledge resource.

OUTCOMES

A. Provide  education that connects users, collections, technology, and partners, and that has measurable value and impact.

  • Make high-engagement, high-impact programs PPL’s highest priority and the focus of constant R&D, entrepreneurship & investment
  • Host fewer, but more PPL-relevant and better-attended one-off events
  • Connect these new programs to the library’s unique physical resources
  • Provide individual technology that’s ample & current, plus some “gee-whiz” gadgetry
  • Staff will tap partners for program design & oversight, and volunteers for program delivery
  • Pay special attention to programming that helps targeted populations succeed
  • Encourage multiple low-cost experiments, then phase out the ones that don’t work and invest more in the ones that do

B. Provide resources for incubation of creative and innovative start-ups, nonprofits, and other entrepreneurial enterprises

  • Create an in-house incubator for program R&D (PPL’s and other non-profits’)

C. Reinvigorate Collections to encourage wider, more varied usage.

  • Gradually reprioritize emphasis from physical to digital and from general collections to unique collections that more directly connect to programs & services

2.   GROW PPL AS A NETWORK

This work is too ambitious for a single organization’s staff, resources, creativity or reach. Up to the present, PPL has focused internally on building its menu of activities. This focus needs to shift towards strong, external relations with other Providence-, Rhode Island- and national organizations.  The network model will reach much more deeply into Providence/RI’s institutions and communities than ‘going it alone.’

OUTCOMES

A. Become Providence’s best collaborator

  • Staff will mobilize volunteers, partners & sponsors across org. boundaries to create working teams and other resources for specific projects
  • Motivate team members with reciprocal benefits, growth & fun
  • Managing external partners, people & other resources will be a major staff activity
  • Harness PPL’s internal research expertise in service to the network
  • Use unpaid media to create positive, high-profile brand recognition required for PPL’s revenue, outreach, partnering and volunteer strategies
  • Create an advisory board of partner organizations

3.   INCREASE USE & ENGAGEMENT THROUGH OUTREACH & RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

Use is a big piece of PPL’s mission impact and a major metric for funders. Also, people attract more people. There’s a science for acquiring and retaining users.

OUTCOMES

A. Focus resources on a maximum of 5 key audiences in the next 3-5 years:  young children, teens, the art & design community, those needing workforce development, and downcity residents. But not to the exclusion of others.

  • Segmentation is the key to bringing in & engaging more users
  • Build interest through programming…build engagement through people
  • Acknowledge shifting community demographics and connect with diverse communities.
  • Develop PPL’s capacity for low-cost, high-touch outreach
  • Create sub-identities that attract specific segments
  • Smart, responsible collection and use of user data is required for all of the above

4.   STAFF ARE PPL’S CORE RESOURCE; VOLUNTEERS SUPPORT THEIR WORK & EXTEND THEIR REACH

To be effective, staff need to be recognized for their work and receive the full support of PPL. The conditions of their work here must be fair and encourage professional growth. One of the most important ways for staff to grow and for PPL to increase its impact is through the use of volunteers. By tapping volunteers, staff increase both the horsepower and skills available to them.

OUTCOMES

A. Volunteer partners will play a major role in designing and delivering program content

  • Partner with educational institutions to identify carefully selected, trained and supervised volunteers  to help on program delivery
  • A high-quality volunteer experience becomes an important secondary outcome for PPL
  • Oversight and higher-level expertise provided by staff  (a teach-the-teachers model)
  • Transfer of competencies: PPL taps volunteer subject matter experts

B. Staff roles will shift to support our broadened educational goals

  • PPL staff form the framework of the organization
  • Build roles, jobs, compensation, benefits & training to support a healthy, happy, productive staff
  • Staff role shifts from content expertise to include coach, collaborator, and connector
  • Hire bright, friendly, info- and tech-savvy generalists as program developers & guides

5.   BECOME A PLACE THAT REPRESENTS TRANSFORMATION & INNOVATION

One of PPL’s biggest draws will be the in-person interaction it offers as a ‘third space’.  Above all, the new PPL will be a place where interesting people learn and do interesting things, and this should be reflected in its appearance.

OUTCOMES

A. Soft renovations to represent new directions without major construction costs

  • Repurpose 150 Empire for program and revenue generation
  • 1st priority: develop a critical mass of activity to avoid “first-at-the-party” syndrome
  • Balance segment neighborhoods with public places where all users go
  • Reconfigure the interior, piece by piece, to support specific uses
  • Begin the Shift from the library as a book repository to a place for hands-on learning and creation

B. Plan for Major renovations in 2-3 years that fully incorporate new directions

  • Identify spaces that will require big, up-front investment and “hard renovation
  • Build flexibility into the floor plan when possible
  • Inside and outside design should reflect aspects of the new PPL’s identity: learning, transformation, creativity, innovation, smart people, interesting activity, sense of humor, urban aesthetic, etc.
  • Continue the shift from the library as a book repository to the place of high impact, measureable learning and creation.

6. ENHANCE DIGITAL LIBRARY AS ADJUNCT TO PROGRAM ACTIVITIES

PPL online should be an indispensable part of the PPL experience, not a separate entity in a different market. Unlimited worldwide competition exists for content/tools unrelated to PPL or RI.

OUTCOMES

A. Expand “home grown” digital resources for both content and as platform for building programmatic communities

  • Increase investment and build out PPL online;  focus it on PPL, its users, local public.
  • Most important: increasing reach, use, interactivity & other functionality of PPL’s program offerings
  • Create community through online marketing; maintain it through social media
  • Avoid building content or tools unrelated to PPL, its users, or local content
  • Use common design, content, and people to integrate PPL online with the 150 Empire experience

B. Continue our commitment to providing no cost access to the Internet & online resources.

  • Combine information/reference online access with computer lab access, to create a single  Information Commons service point

7.  BROADEN AND DEEPEN SUPPORT BASE 

This plan will require a quantum leap in PPL’s ability to raise revenue.

OUTCOMES

A. Establish multiple revenue streams resulting in stable, predictable annual funding

  • Create a menu of giving opportunities, and match different kinds of funders with different PPL uses
  • Build a staff development function and strategy that draw on a wide range of fundraising models--with particular focus on major gifts, younger high-net-worth individuals, and corporate sponsorships
  • Train all PPL staff  to understand the link between revenue, new services & free services and to recognize revenue opportunities
  • Enhance PPL boards to increase their effectiveness in fundraising
  • Build governmental relationships
  • Identify new revenue-generating activities
  • Tap national and international funding opportunities