We developed this plan in 2007, getting lots of community feedback.  Each year since, we have developed an action plan based on these strategic initiatives, goals and objectives.

Strategic Initiatives, Goals and Objectives

Service Excellence

The Oak Park Public Library exists to meet the needs of the community. We are focused on the customer experience and anticipate user needs. We provide consistent, convenient, friendly, knowledgeable services. We recognize that an important part of our job is to communicate effectively so that the community is aware and can take full advantage of library services, resources and programs. We actively seek out best practices and adapt them to the needs of Oak Park, and other libraries look to us for best practices and innovation as well. We are a leader among libraries.

Offer customer-focused service throughout the organization.

  • Evaluate workflow, staffing levels and budget allocation to maximize customer satisfaction with resources and services.
  • Evaluate self-service options for optimal performance.
  • Provide understandable, attractive, visible signage.
  • Share a clear definition of service excellence.
  • Evaluate customer service.

Strive to be a leader in service excellence among libraries in Illinois and nationwide.

  •  Incorporate continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation into all library operations and services.
  • Gather, evaluate and implement best practice from other libraries.
  • Create innovative services and programs and share with other libraries and our community.

Access to Information

The free exchange of ideas and access to information are fundamental tenets of a democratic society. The library is committed to the principles of intellectual freedom. We provide free access to information and resources that address our users' needs and wants. We respect and protect the privacy and confidentiality of our users.

Make the Library easier to use for everyone.

  • Conduct a self-study for policy, economic, language and physical barriers to reduce or eliminate barriers to access.
  • Explore techniques to better market and promote the collection.
  • Reach out to special client groups (youth, seniors, differently abled) to meet their needs.
  • Identify non-users and their needs.

Increase staff and public awareness of what we do and what we have.

  • Create a public awareness plan that promotes services, materials and programs.
  • Ensure that all staff is fully conversant with Oak Park Public Library policies and procedures.
  • Share the library core values with staff and community.
  • Improve and increase outreach efforts.

Learning Organization

We believe that we provide the best possible library services when we are a Learning Organization. We consciously and continuously seek to gain new knowledge and skills. We are in a state of continuous assessment and adaptation. Individual learning is continuous, knowledge is shared, staff practice systems thinking and are encouraged to experiment, take risks and not fear failure. Staff respect and trust each other and engage in open, honest communication throughout the organization. Everyone's contribution is valued. There is a clear, shared, inspiring vision and a strong sense of community and shared purpose.

Be a responsive, evolving organization.

  • Establish institutional standards and expectations for communication, respect and conflict resolution throughout the organization.
  • Recognize and reward exceptional individual and group performance, innovation, collaboration, creative problem-solving and continuous learning.
  • Facilitate the career growth of high-performing staff and provide all staff with the tools and educational opportunities required to develop new skills.
  • Create the optimal workforce for the Library's future; identify appropriate workload staffing levels necessary for running operations; strive to attract and retain a staff that reflects the diversity of our community.
  • Share knowledge throughout the organization.
  • Actively practice open, honest communication.

Share a clear, inspiring vision and purpose.

  • Ensure all staff understand and actively support organizational goals.
  • Incorporate assessment, continuous improvement and planning for the future into everyday operations.

Lifelong Learning and Enjoyment

Oak Park has a proud heritage of diversity and inclusion, and is strongly committed to education and learning. The Library has an important role in providing services and resources to people of all ages and abilities. We promote early literacy through innovative and creative children's programming. We work with educational institutions to ensure academic success for all. We reach out to teens, adults, seniors and special client groups to make sure we are meeting their needs. We instill a love of reading by demonstrating and communicating our own enthusiasm and joy. We provide materials programs and resources that entertain, inspire and inform.

Promote literacy and the love of reading and learning for all ages.

  • Expand and evaluate outreach services for literacy.
  • Develop opportunities for staff and public to cultivate and share their love of reading.
  • Develop programs in support of and in coordination with the collection.

Build, manage and evaluate our collection in order to meet the educational, recreational and cultural needs of the community.

  • Evaluate community and patron desires and make sure our collection reflects them.
  • Define the role of the collection and the appropriate balance for types of materials, including formats, age-levels and subjects.
  • Provide easy user-focused access to the collection.

Leverage technology to provide innovative library services and to reach out to remote users.

  • Explore the establishment of a virtual branch to focus our current online services into a unified approach.
  • Evaluate our integrated library system to ensure optimum customer service and financial stewardship.
  • Use the interactive potential of the catalog and website to get feedback from our users.

Cultural Center

Oak Park is a dynamic hub of cultural activities and civic engagement. The Library builds and engages in mutually beneficial relationships with other community groups and organizations to create a vibrant web of community activity. We are a full partner in finding solutions for community problems, and focus our role in all aspects of community improvement and government. We are a physical place and a virtual destination where people and ideas connect. We are a repository and aggregator of local history and heritage. We are a clearinghouse for community information.

Offer programming which serves the needs and interests of the Oak Park community.

  • Improve library-wide coordination, planning, marketing and evaluation of programming.
  • Work in collaboration with other organizations (libraries, schools, businesses) and cultural institutions to develop, co-sponsor and publicize programs.

Maximize use of meeting rooms at all three library locations.

  • Create a centralized listing where all events and programs held in the Library can be posted.
  • Communicate to the community the availability of and limitations on the use of meeting rooms.
  • Evaluate current room reservation software and train relevant staff in its optimum use.


The community of Oak Park, its residents and businesses, provides us with the funds to operate the Library and expects us to maintain the highest levels of efficiency and integrity. We practice transparent government and align our financial resources with our institutional goals and priorities across all three library facilities. We recognize that our financial resources are finite and we actively pursue alternative sources of funding.

Develop a comprehensive plan to maintain and upgrade library infrastructure (buildings, grounds, technology) to ensure safety, efficiency and the delivery of excellent library service. Balance opportunities for improvement against costs.

  • Determine and plan for upkeep-, upgrade- and replacement-costs for all systems on a continuing basis.

Reduce the environmental impact of the Library below current levels and be recognized as a community leader in this area.

  • Create an Environmental Task Force to explore energy efficiencies and ways to reduce the environmental impact of the Library.

Clearly define the role of all locations in achieving the library mission.

  • Assess the relationship of locations to patron expectations and the Library as a whole.
  • Examine, determine and maintain collections and services appropriate to each location.
  • Examine (and adjust as necessary) all library hours to better meet the needs of our patrons.
  • Decide and communicate which staff responsibilities (collection, selection, programming, services) are centralized and which are decentralized.
  • Determine and implement adequate staffing to insure personal safety and meet patron needs for all locations.

Make the best use of available space.

  • Conduct regular usability studies of all locations and align spaces according to best use.
  • Evaluate and develop a plan for optimal usage of lobby space.

Align our budget with institutional goals and ensure our priorities and our budget process is open and transparent to all.

  • Develop a budget process that is transparent and actively encourages staff input.
  • Raise our cost consciousness and encourage staff participation in cost containment efforts.
  • Demonstrate operating efficiencies to the community.

Broaden our resources.

  • Develop a centrally coordinated volunteer program that includes training and recognition of volunteers.
  • Explore ways to increase resources through community and library partnerships.
  • Expand fundraising efforts.
  • Investigate entrepreneurial services that will increase financial resources.