And the survey says…
The current Guelph Public Library (GPL) strategic plan titled Building Steam was about doing business differently, focusing on productivity and exploring alternate revenue sources. It was an ambitious and to date, very successful game plan that included annual goals to enhance customer service and strengthen organizational performance. As a planning tool, a strategic plan can either be a public relations tool used to connect with the community or it can be a set of strategic actions and programs. At GPL we consider our strategic plan a living and actionable to-do list, that is built on community engagement, supports our success and is monitored by the GPL board.
Our first step in crafting a new plan was to talk to our customers and solicit their comments and recommendations about how we can improve public library service in Guelph. Over a seven week period in early spring we conducted a series of user satisfaction surveys. We talked to 6,007 people or over 11% of our customers in person and online. This is what they told us:
► 97% said GPL was important or very important to them
► 95% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with GPL services
►when asked about the quality of services, 88% said it was good or very good
I was surprised that there was very little difference between Main and branch customer comments, except when it came to more meeting and study space at Main, earlier open hours at the branches and from our online customers, more eBooks and databases on the website.
However, 34% of respondents all agreed there needs to be more public library cooperation with local schools and 28% recommended more adult programs and events. When asked the all-important question about how we could improve library service:
► over 30% suggested more new movies and more copies of best sellers
► 23% recommended building a new, bigger new Main library
► and there were lots of suggestions about more/longer open hours and of course better parking especially at the Main library and West End branch
We also learned a lot about our customers for example:
► over 40% of our customers walk into a GPL library weekly and over 12% visit Main or a branch every day
► over 51% of our online customers visit the GPL website weekly and over 9% visit the website daily
The next step will be to consult with the amazing library staff, conduct a SWOT analysis and use the resulting data to establish and communicate annual goals, service reviews and performance measurements. We will then research best practices and innovations by identifying public library trends and their impact on customer service. The goal of this benchmarking is to develop an ambitious plan focusing on actions that will enhance GPL’s mission and staff performance.
The 2015-2017 GPL strategic plan will:
► move GPL forward in an informed and strategic way
► prove staff with a comprehensive road map of annual goals
► empower the GPL board to effectively monitor performance, embrace change and provide guidelines to continuously improving library service
This may all seem like a lot of work, but just like any business, without a strategic plan there is no direction and no way GPL can move forward, embrace change and be relevant in the lives of our customers.
Stay tuned there is lots more to come.
Kitty Pope #15 April 2014