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Strategic Plan 2016-2019

2016 - 2019 Strategic Initiatives

1. Products and Services
2. Finance
3. Facilities
4. Technology and Communications
5. Organizational Development

Strategic Plan PDF


In 1996, voters approved a dedicated, perpetual millage to fund the establishment and operation of an independent district library, newly separate from the Ann Arbor public school system. Over the next twenty years, led by an elected Board of Trustees and supported by a talented staff of nearly 200 professionals, the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) has become a treasured community resource.

The library operates out of five physical locations: the flagship building in downtown Ann Arbor, the Traverwood branch to the north, Westgate to the west, Malletts Creek to the southeast, and Pittsfield to the southwest. Through this deliberately placed constellation of facilities, patrons enjoy convenient access to all that the library offers.

Highlights of these offerings include:

  • Traditional circulation materials such as books, DVDs, and other media – as well as unusual collections available for check-out including, but not limited to, musical instruments, art prints, home tools, and games;
  • A diverse array of recurring programs and one-time events, often delivered in partnership with other public or private non-profit organizations;
  • Spaces ranging from quiet study rooms for individuals and small groups, to community gatherings of up to 130 people, all available at low- or no-cost;
  • Access to public computers and high-speed internet access;
  • A rich suite of online resources such as the searchable Old News archive and Pulp, a compilation of information about arts experiences happening in and around Ann Arbor; and
  • The Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, which provides free access to alternative-format materials for those experiencing temporary or permanent visual/physical limitations, as well as other related support.

AADL is deservedly proud of its commitment to ongoing innovation. One of AADL’s defining characteristics is the nimbleness with which the organization anticipates and responds to evolving community needs and interests. From strategic early adoption of emerging technologies, to partnering with community organizations, and continuous evaluation of its service portfolio with an eye toward potential refinements, the library is committed to remaining relevant long into the future – all while staying faithful to the foundational reference and circulation services traditionally sought by patrons.

The library’s resulting excellence has fostered appreciation at the local level: an EPICMRA survey conducted in February 2016 revealed that 94% of respondents hold a favorable opinion of the library. AADL has also received national recognition as well, as the only library in the state of Michigan to be awarded the Library Journal’s “5-Star Library” status.

The following plan seeks to build on this foundation of excellence: aligning with the Ann Arbor District Library’s vision, mission, and values; harmonizing innovation with tradition; and, ultimately, amplifying the library’s impact in a way that is both ambitious and achievable.

Initiative 1: Products and Services

1.1 Adjust offerings in order to better serve the senior population.

  • One-on-one assistive technology support available by appointment.
  • Began offering adult-oriented field trips during weekdays.
  • On-site tours & talks available to senior residences and other adult-oriented groups.
  • Created and updated a “Resources for Caregivers” public list on in response to a request from Turner Senior Resource Center.
  • Staff invited to serve on the UM Ginsberg Center’s Community Advisory Board.
  • Hosted two events and an exhibit in partnership with the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County.
  • Continued facilitation and production of AACHM’s Living Oral History Project.
  • Developing a one-on-one computer training service for the general public.
  • Evaluating shelving layout across system to make browsing more comfortable for older patrons.
  • Created Fiber Arts Lab, a weekly event dedicated to knitting, crocheting, and other fiber arts.
  • Hosted Art for X, a series of daytime events that explored the value and opportunities art brings to the public realm, in conjunction with the Ann Arbor Art Center.
  • Began offering Drawing for Adults event every Sunday at the Downtown Library.
  • Offered events specifically targeted for older adults such as retirement planning, navigating Medicare, and senior health issues.
  • Conducted an interactive workshop to offer tips to navigate the world of preserving family photos, movies, and slides in conjunction with local business, Priceless Preservation of Ann Arbor.
  • Continue to offer public space for community groups such as the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor who meet once a month to discuss the history of food in America.
  • Director Parker invited to speak at the Osher Lifelong Learning.
  • Director Parker invited to speak to local chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
  • Director Parker invited to speak to the West Side United Methodist Church’s Women’s Circle.

1.2 Adjust offerings in augment our support of teen patrons.

  • Partnership with Ozone House for regular communication and a site for withdrawn materials.
  • Partnership with Neutral Zone for library day after-school drop-in, program partnerships, and fine-forgiveness.
  • Increased partnership with 826Michigan for after-school podcasting programming, school visits, and serving as a site for their family writing labs.
  • Anticipated peak finals study times for high school students at Westgate Branch, and reserved space for their use.
  • Continued expansion of teen programming such as Adulting 101, Sewing Lab, and 3D Printing.
  • “It’s All Write” writing contest received 569 entries; 18 prizes will be awarded. Added Flash Fiction category to broaden appeal.
  • Selected Ann Arbor Youth Poet Laureate from five finalists. The winner received a contract to have a debut collection of poems published by Penmanship Books in New York.
  • Planned the first annual Teen Writing Festival, featuring a workshop coordinated with the Neutral Zone, a Q & A panel with YA authors, and an awards ceremony for the "It's All Write!" Teen Writing Contest, scheduled for June 2017.

1.3 Deepen, expand the portfolio of offerings supporting full equity and access across all cultures in our community.

  • Added an ESL conversation group to Westgate Branch.
  • Continued to meet and program with groups such as the American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Family Services, Ann Arbor Arab American Parent Support Group, International Chinese Reading Association, among others.
  • Reached out to the five AAPS high schools to directly set up visits.
  • Continued partnership with PALMA to host English language tutoring sessions at the Downtown Library.
  • Continued partnership with the Ypsilanti District Library for El Dia de Los Niños y Libros event.
  • Co-sponsored and hosted El Dia de la Familia Latina with the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Community Outreach Program.
  • Continued offering software in multiple languages, including multilingual kids apps at Westgate, and Brainfuse, an online tutoring service that offers instruction in Spanish.

1.4 Cultivate a more systemic partnership with Ann Arbor Public Schools.

  • Re-evaluated and adjusted May School Visits to offer an improved, more flexible experience for students and teachers.
  • Began offering each 2nd grade class that visited AADL on a field trip a follow-up staff visit to their classroom.
  • Hosted Storytelling workshops at Ann Arbor Open School.
  • Doubled scope of Library Songsters programming, including a broader spectrum of artists, teachers, and classrooms, including WISD classrooms.
  • Presented or tabled at a variety of off-hours school events such as career days, ice cream socials, curriculum nights, and others.
  • Actively working with AAPS to develop online sign-up for digital library card for students.
  • Hosted meetings of AAPS Media Specialists and Head of Curriculum.
  • Continuing to develop and offer classroom checkout of tool sets upon request.
  • Provide web archive of Skyline High School’s installation of the Legacies Project Oral History.

1.5 Explore the guiding principles for AADL’s approach to unusual collections.

  • Featured article in the Wall Street Journal in March 2017 highlighted the AADL’s Tools Collection.
  • Continued to field inquiries from other libraries in regard to the AADL’s unusual collections as they pursue their own goals around unusual collections.
  • Actively developing reservation system to allow Tools checkouts on specified dates, for integration into new website.

Initiative 2: Finance

2.1 Explore alternative revenue generation options. 2.2 Continue to operate the library in a fiscally responsible manner.

Initiative 3: Facilities

3.1 Prioritize and implement the long-term facilities maintenance plan.

  • Developed 7-year capital forecast for all facilities, provided to the Board of Trustees.
  • Renovated and expanded the Westgate branch

3.2 Conduct a long-term study to evaluate the placement and attributes of current and future AADL facilities. 3.3 Reimagine the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown presence.

  • The Library Board of Trustees is holding a retreat June 12, 2017 centered on the Future of the Library in the Downtown.

Initiative 4: Technology and Communications

4.1 Refresh AADL’s branding, integrated with a comprehensive communications strategy.

  • Position for Communications and Marketing Manager created in 2017.
  • Began using refreshed branding and refined visual design on posters, signage, and advertisements.

4.2 Articulate a vision for technology investments that confirms AADL’s position as an early adopter, and ensures relevance and vibrancy over the long-term.

  • Added regular agenda items for Board of Trustees meetings covering AADL technology projects and planning.

4.3 Implement the new web presence.

  • Completed the new website information architecture and graphic design. Design is being implemented on beta server prior to board presentation.
  • Catalog migration and related software development is underway.

4.4 Identify opportunities to increase cross-channel interaction.

  • Developed Weekly Newsletter, expected to launch summer 2017.
  • Developing new notification and alert system in conjunction with new website.

Initiative 5: Organizational Development

5.1 Assess employee benefits structure for competitiveness.

  • Pay structures with job descriptions are re-evaluated every three years by an outside source to ensure our competitiveness in the area/market.
  • Health Benefits assessed annually against local and regional peer organizations for competitiveness and value.

5.2 Provide meaningful opportunities for staff to implement the strategic plan.

  • Producing “Fellow Youths”, a young adult literature podcast intended for librarians and young adult advocates.
  • Producing “Secrets from the Lab”, video podcast offering hands-on demos related to events.
  • Producing “Tools Crew Live”, an ongoing video series where musicians are invited to create and perform music using gear from AADL’s music tool collection.

5.3 Refine Board of Trustees’ committee structure to enable more open and inclusive communication.

  • Updating Board packet production workflow to improve searchability & flexibility.
  • On July 18, 2016, bylaws of the Board of Trustees were edited and passed to restructure the committees of the Board.

5.4 Enhance professional development and learning opportunities for members of the Board of Trustees.

  • Recent and upcoming development opportunities for the Board of Trustees include:
    • MLA’s Headlee Amendment Webinar in February 2017.
    • MLA’s Annual Conference held in October each year.
    • MLA Executive Summit on June 2, 2017.
    • AADL Un-Conference in May 2016 and May 2017.
    • Midland/Northern Conference June 5-8, 2017.
    • ALA Annual Conference June 22-27, 2017.