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Office of Commonwealth Libraries Five Year Plan

This guide outlines the Office of Commonwealth Libraries Five Year Plan from 2023-2027.

Goal 2: Libraries as Community Catalyst

GOAL 2: Libraries as Community Catalyst

Enable and encourage every library to understand and serve the needs of their communities through deep engagement, effective partnerships, and strategic resource sharing.

Need Addressed:

There is a need for libraries to be responsive to community needs and engage actively with communities with particular focus on populations in the margins, a need for support in strategic foresight and established healthy governance structures.

Project Areas

Project Area 2.1 Library Empowerment

Empower libraries to connect with community partners to build equitable libraries.

Activity Areas
  • Provide special projects funding to support inventive local partnerships that connect libraries to the needs of their communities as active responders.
    • Potential activities: Equity and inclusion sub-grants, broadband and digital equity partnerships, workforce development initiatives, civic engagement and civil discourse initiatives.

  • Support community engagement that positions libraries at the center of identifying and responding to emerging needs, particularly in populations in the margins.
    • Potential activities: Collection development projects to reflect the community, library services for immigrants and refugees, people living in poverty, older adults and veterans, initiatives to celebrate contributions of unseen populations.

Target Audience: General public

Evaluation: Libraries report changes connected to their programs in populations targeted. Libraries conduct collection assessments, identify needs for development, assess user satisfaction and use after addressing those needs.

Timeline: Work will progress over the five years of the plan.


    • Year 1: Establish structure for project funding, regular guides for partnership possibilities and emerging programs. June-Aug 2024
    • Year 2: First round of project grants to communities, evaluation and revision. June-Aug 2025
    • Year 3: Record experiences of communities, evaluate outcomes, revise. June-Aug 2026
    • Year 4: Measure changes in communities. June-Aug 2027

Project Area 2.2 User-Focused Service Design

Support user-focused planning and service design to reinforce that libraries belong to everyone and everyone belongs in libraries.

Activity Areas
  • Provide consultation and support for strategic foresight, environmental scanning, user-focused service design, and proactive response to changing situations
    • Potential activities: Assistance and training in planning and service design for local libraries, tool kits and data dashboards for local libraries, systems and districts.

  • Continue/Expand local implementation of OCL-designed programs to create sustainable, welcoming and supportive libraries
    • Potential activities: Locally led and executed versions of programs like Including YOU, Building Belonging, Video Game Clubs of America, Teen Reading Lounge, Summer Library Program, Summer STEM Outreach, Teen Services initiatives, Family Place, StoryWalk initiative.

Target Audience:  Library Staff, volunteers and/or trustees; General Public

Evaluation: Establish target number of libraries that engage in planning activities. Number of completed library plans shared with the state. Collect library staff and user stories on their experience with the processes. Number and impact of programs conducted; changes recorded in specific areas of community need. IMLS-related questions capturing changes in attitude, behavior and skills; preferably pre- and post- designated programs when possible.

Timeline: Work will progress over the five years of the plan.


  • Year 1: OCL programs packaged for local implementation. Program parameters set, consultants and pilot communities selected. June-Aug 2024
  • Year 2: First pilot sites planning process and evaluation. June-Aug 2025
  • Year 3: Expansion of planning sites and service design pilots, evaluation. June-Aug 2026
  • Year 4: Expansion of service design sites, planning continues, evaluation of OCL programsJune-Aug 2027

Project Area 2.3 Strengthening Governance and Leadership

Improve governance and leadership of libraries at the local level to reflect future-focused library practice and the diversity of our communities.

Activity Areas
  • Develop and recommend robust board standards and resources, including evaluation and recognition of excellence in governance through peer guidance.
    • Potential activities: Board retreats, trustee peer advisor initiatives, board excellence recognition program, promising practices documentation.
  • Support the development of local library leadership with Directors and Trustees.
    • Potential activities: Project funding for library directors, staff, volunteers and trustees to participate in community partnerships and initiatives that put the library at the center of community improvement.

Target Audience: Library staff, volunteers and/or trustees

Evaluation:  Trustees improving on assessment ratings.  Directors report a good relationship with their trustees. Director retention. Stronger local support.

Timeline: Work will progress over the five years of the plan.


  • Year 1: Develop parameters of recognition program, plan for board retreats, conduct assessmentsJune-Aug 2024
  • Year 2: Parameters of project funding program, conduct board retreats, pilot recognition program, evaluateJune-Aug 2025
  • Year 3: Parameters of peer advisor program, document promising practices, implement project funding for partnership initiatives, evaluate. June-Aug 2026
  • Year 4: Evaluate recognition program, conduct assessments again, record outcomes of project funding for partnershipsJune-Aug 2027