To ensure that every voice was heard in the process of developing the library’s strategic plan, CIVIC Technologies (CIVIC), in association with The Ivy Group, was retained in August 2015 to undertake a community engagement initiative to identify future library services in Fairfax County. Under the direction of the Library Board of Trustees, the Board’s Planning Committee exercised direct oversight and project management. Over the next thirteen months, CIVIC conducted an extensive process that reached thousands of residents and worked with library staff to align library service strategies with community needs.
Several methods were used to gather stakeholder and staff input. These methods included three surveys:
In all, nearly 10,000 people contributed to this process. CIVIC presented their findings and recommendations to the Library Board of Trustees on September 8, 2016. All documents from the Public Engagement Initiative were made available to the public on the library’s website. This initiative allowed the library to take advantage of new technologies for gathering community input and to use up-to-date demographic information in conjunction with library usage data. Most importantly, the process allowed community stakeholders, members of the Board, and library staff to think about the future of the library collaboratively.
Library staff members were recruited to serve on a Staff Strategic Planning Committee responsible for crafting the plan. Nearly one hundred staff members were nominated by peers or volunteered to participate and as a result a primary and secondary committee were created. The primary committee consisted of nineteen staff members from all levels of the organization and included Librarians, Branch Managers, Youth Service Managers, Page Managers, Outreach Managers, Circulation Managers, Library Aides, Administrators, Library IT, and others. The Library Director and Deputy Director served in an ad hoc capacity and a representative from the County’s Office of Organizational Development and Training was brought in to facilitate the process. A secondary committee included thirty-seven additional staff members.