A Strategic Plan for Clayton County Library System

Clayton County Library System

The Clayton County Library System has six main branches, which are situated in different parts of the state of Georgia. It is headquartered in Jonesboro, GA 30236, with the head office branch being the largest of the six. The current director of library services is Rosalind K. Lett (Clayton County Library System, n.d). The library has more than nine administrative team members; I am currently the managing branch librarian at the Morrow Branch. Clayton County Library System provides a range of services, which are specifically designed for adults, youths, teenagers, and kids.

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Organizational Mandates

Clayton County Library System has three major organizational mandates, which every public organization, especially libraries, must have. The first mandate is to provide free library services to the local community members (Bordone, 2010). The free services constitute an initiative by the government to enhance the literacy level within the state of Georgia (Bordone, 2010). The implication of this is that the strategic planning process of Clayton County Library System must always take into account the fact that its clients must get free services, except where the express permission of the government is reasonably sought. Moreover, given that the services are supposed to be free, the library must design its strategic plans based on the resources it can mobilize (Katz, 2013).

The second mandate of the library is to provide its services to clients of different ages: adults, youths, and children (Pandora & Hayman, 2013; Gilton, 2012). This means that the library has the responsibility of ensuring that its services meet the unique needs of its various clients. (Wolf, 2011; Jarvis, 2008). The library has different sections with specific services for clients of different ages and academic levels. Concerning the implications, Clayton County Library System must always consider the ages and academic levels of its clients while coming up with strategic goals during its strategic planning process (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

The last mandate of the library is to maintain and secure the learning materials in its custody so that every visiting client can get what he or she wants (Diamond, 2011; Zabel, 2010). Clayton County Library System gets most of its resources from the government. Therefore, it has the mandate to ensure that the learning materials on which such resources are used are well maintained to serve clients over a relatively long period (Lubas, 2011; Pearlmutter & Nelson, 2012). This mandate implies that it reduces the number of resources that may be needed to achieve strategic goals, as may be outlined in a strategic plan (Kent, 2012; Clare, 2010). For instance, when learning materials are well maintained, there is no need to have a goal of replacing them as a part of subsequent strategic plans.

The Mission and Values of Clayton County Library System

The mission of Clayton County Library System is:

To contribute to the success of the citizens of our diverse community by offering a full range of library services that meet their informational, educational, and leisure interests, fostering the love of reading in our youth and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge for all. (Clayton County Library System, n.d)

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The library endeavors to provide different relevant library services to enable the local community members to acquire knowledge and information, which may be relevant to their educational needs. The library has also some values, which it observes during its daily operations. The values are very vital in terms of achieving its goals and objectives as outlined in the strategic plan. Therefore, Clayton County Library System has the following values:

  1. Accountability: accountability is one of the important core values that a public organization should have (Rainey, 2009). A public organization should always be accountable to the relevant government authorities and the members of the public (Usherwood, 2012). Therefore, Clayton County Library System takes responsibility for delivering on its commitments.
  2. Teamwork: teamwork is often important in any organization that needs to achieve its goals and objectives, especially as outlined in a strategic plan (Venetis, 2008; Latham, 2013). Clayton County Library System takes pride in the diversity of its experiences; it also builds connections among all team members. The team members trust one another and work together.
  3. Expertise: expertise is very important to an organization like Clayton County Library System (Gobillot, 2011). Expertise enables an organization to understand its clients, which is also crucial in terms of providing efficient services (Gobillot, 2011; Krausert, 2009). Clayton County Library System relentlessly tries to understand better the local community members, who form the largest part of its clients.
  4. Excellence: excellence refers to a quality that surpasses an ordinary standard (Blazey, 2013; Ganji, 2012). Clayton County Library System strives to ensure that its services for the local community members have a high quality.

Stakeholder Analysis

A stakeholder is an individual or a group of individuals having vested interests in an organization (McPhail, 2011). The interests must be taken into consideration during a strategic planning process (Mallin, 2007). Without key stakeholders, the execution of a strategic plan may not be successful (Hage, 2007). In the case of the Clayton County Library System, there are several key stakeholders, whose influences have significant implications for the planning process. The key stakeholders of the library are discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.

The government officials represent the relevant government authorities who have a high degree of interest, which include ensuring service delivery to the members of the public (Goulding, 2012). Therefore, a strategic planning process must often ensure that the interests of this group of individuals are satisfied (Goulding, 2012). The government representatives are also very important for the planning process because they can influence the level of government funding the library receives. To maintain their support for the process, the cost of a strategic planning process should be reasonable and within government allocations (Goulding, 2012).

The members of the board of directors are also as important as the government representatives are (Pearlmutter & Nelson, 2012). The reason is that they constitute the senior library officials, who have a high level of influence on the library’s policies; the directors are the ones who approve Clayton County Library System’s new policies (Pearlmutter & Nelson, 2012). Therefore, for a strategic plan to be successful, the board of directors needs to be involved at very high levels (Pearlmutter & Nelson, 2012). To solicit and maintain their support, they need to be consulted at every level of the planning process.

Clayton County Library System’s director of library services is accountable to the board of directors (Mathews, 2013). In this case, Rosalind K. Lett’s participation during the planning process is very vital. She is the one who approves the strategic goals of the library before consulting with the members of the board of directors, who have the final say in the planning process. Based on this fact, Rosalind K. Lett also has a high degree of interest. Due to this, she must be extensively consulted and involved in the planning process.

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Branch managers are the next stakeholders whose interests in the planning process are significant (Mathews, 2013). It is important to note that for organizational goals to be accomplished, the branch managers must play an important role (Mathews, 2013). In this respect, their interest should be satisfied to incentivize them to participate fully in the planning and execution process (Mathews, 2013). Since branch managers are also important during the planning process, their support can be maintained by ensuring that they have enough resources to play part in the strategic plan implementation process (Mathews, 2013; Bryson, 2011).

The last stakeholders are the junior employees. Even though the employees also have their interests, there may not be a need to engage them in the same way as other stakeholders (Mathews, 2013). The employees’ input during the planning process may be important, but not necessary (Mathews, 2013). They only need to be informed about what the library is doing and the roles they are required to play in the process (Mathews, 2013). Therefore, soliciting and maintaining their support entail informing them about the importance of their participation (Mathews, 2013).

External and Internal Environments (SWOT Analysis)

Organizational Strengths

Strengths are specific characteristics of a given organization, which give it a competitive advantage over similar organizations (Bryson, 2011). Therefore, one of the strengths of the Clayton County Library System is the availability of updated sources of learning materials. This implies that the library’s customers can acquire current information about various social, political, and economic matters (Yuksel, 2012).

The convenience of large community space is the second strength that the library possesses. The relatively large space can accommodate a significantly large number of customers, especially children who are always brought by their guardians to read in the library. The third strength is that the library has been able to create specific reading areas for customers of varying ages: youths, children, and adults (Koontz, 2007; McAvinchey, 2013).

Organizational Weaknesses

Despite the strengths, the Clayton County Library System has some weaknesses, one of which is the inadequate financial allocations from the government. Just like most public organizations, the library receives a substantial amount of its financial allocations from the government (Kemp, 2009; Sharma, 2012). It is important to point out that the financial allocations from the government are never enough concerning meeting the long-term goals of the library (Sharma, 2012).

The other weakness is the lack of an effective public relations plan to improve the library’s prominence among clients (Watson & Noble, 2007). This is partially attributable to the fact that the library has not been receiving adequate monetary allocations from the relevant government agency (Watson & Noble, 2007). Moreover, the weakness has been contributed to by a lack of adequate alternative sources of finances. The last weakness is related to the second one. The library does not have specialized public relations personnel. This explains the reason why the library does not have an effective public relations plan.

Organizational Opportunities

The library has some opportunities to enhance its services to the members of the public. One of the opportunities is the convenience of its different branches. The library has six branches in different parts of Georgia (Hernon & Mathews, 2013). This fact provides it with an opportunity to invite more clients to use its localized learning facilities. The other opportunity is the space the library has to accommodate a relatively large number of clients. The library can lease some of its space to different groups of public members at reasonable fees. In this case, the library has the opportunity to increase its sources of income (Hernon & Mathews, 2013). The last opportunity is that the library can use a corporate social responsibility approach to attract the support of the local community members (Hernon & Mathews, 2013). This is made possible by the fact that the library and its six branches are located within the local communities they serve. The use of a corporate social responsibility approach provides the library with an opportunity to engage with the local community members in a positive way (Hernon & Mathews, 2013).

Organizational Threats

Organizational threats are factors that may obstruct an organization from achieving its strategic goals (Block, 2007). In the case of the Clayton County Library System, one of the threats is the lack of awareness of its services among the public members, especially those found within the local areas where it has branches. The library has unique services, of which other similar organizations cannot boast. Nonetheless, because of a lack of an efficient public relations plan, it has become problematic to inform the local members about the unique services of the library effectually (Block, 2007).

The declining financial supports from the government are the second threat, which may hamper the realization of the library’s organizational strategic goals (Block, 2007). The reason is that the library greatly depends on the financial allocations from the government to sustain its efficient operations (Harriman, 2008). The last threat is the spread of other public libraries within the county, which has the potential to attract customers away from the Clayton County Library System (Marco, 2011).

What I have learned from the Analysis

I have learned that the SWOT analysis process helps in pointing out the main strategic issues that should be addressed in a strategic plan. I have also learned that identifying the strategic issues through the analysis helps planners to come up with strategies to achieve the overall goals of an organization. Therefore, in my strategic planning process, doing this kind of analysis influences how I identify and deal with strategic issues of the library.

Strategic Issues of the Clayton County Library System

A strategic issue is something major, internal or external, which may either limit or expand the alternatives available to an organization to deal with some specific challenges (Katz, 2013; Marco, 2011). Since issues are often strategic, they must also be long-term in nature (Barraket, 2008). One of the strategic issues of the library is the lack of financial strength (Kemp, 2009; Coleman, 2008). It is strategic because the achievements of the organizational goals are based on the availability of adequate finances.

The other strategic issue is the lack of effective advocacy (Kemp, 2009). This issue is strategic because it is the only approach that can be used to inform different parties about the services of the library. The last strategic issue is the lack of specialized advocacy personnel to help in advocating the library’s services among the local community members. It is strategic because only specialized personnel can help the library to come up with an effective advocacy plan.

Strategies to Address the Issues

To address the first strategic issue, I would explore different alternative sources of finances. In this case, I would work with different relevant networks to mobilize resources from the local community members and different business organizations to support the work of the library (Bryson, 2011; Griffin, 2008). This action is justified on the ground that the only alternative sources of support are the community and businesses (Griffin, 2008). I would address the second and the third issues by asking the human resources department to recruit advocacy personnel to help the library to do effective advocacy. This move is justified because the library can only sell its services to customers through effective advocacy.

Adopting the Strategic Plan

To adopt and proceed with the plan, I would seek the approval of both the board of directors and the director of library services. Once the two entities approve the plan, the implementation process would begin immediately (Bryson, 2011).

The Organization’s Future Vision

The library does not have a specific vision. However, from its goals and objectives, the future vision appears to be the public library of choice for meeting all the informational and educational needs of the citizens of Georgia (Clayton County Library System, n.d).

The Implementation Process

The first step would be to obtain the necessary approval from the top management officials and the board of directors. The second step would entail building consensus to ensure cooperation among all stakeholders during the implementation process (Bryson, 2011). The last step would include conducting public awareness and education to communicate the details of the strategic plan to the public members and enlist their support and cooperation during the process (Bryson, 2011).

Monitoring and Re-evaluation

One of the issues is the lack of enough resources for all stakeholders within the library to undertake their duties during the implementation process. The monitoring and modification of this issue would include evaluating how the available resources are being used and possibly eliminating some tasks, which would be undertaken once more resources would have been acquired.

The other issue would be the fear of employees about the effect of the changes that the strategic plan might have on their job. In this case, the monitoring and modification processes would include evaluating the challenges faced by the employees and dealing with them immediately.

Conclusion

In my reflection on the strategic planning process, I would like to state that my experience is that a strategic planning process is very important to achieve organizational development. I have learned that the planning process helps in the identification of strategic issues and devising specific strategies to deal with them. I have also learned that there are important stakeholders, who must be considered during a planning process.

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