Strategic Plan

The Public Library of the City of Boston built by the people and dedicated to the advancement of learning. The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty. Free to all. MDCCCLXXXVIII (1888)
-Carved in stone on the McKim Building of the Central Library in Copley Square

The BPL Compass: Strategic Plan

The BPL Compass: Strategic Plan was approved by the Boston Public Library’s Board of Trustees on November 15, 2011.

In May 2012, at the annual meeting of the Boston Public Library’s Board of Trustees, a version of the strategic plan was published that includes the principles for excellence, the full text of the strategic plan, profiles of community members, a summary of the planning process, examples of outreach, and a range of supporting documents.

Read the full BPL Compass Strategic Plan (PDF)

In 2013, Boston Public Library received a “Best of Show” award in the Advocacy category for the BPL Compass during the American Library Associations’ annual conference. The Library Leadership & Management Association, a division of the American Library Association, presented the “Best of Show” awards, which recognize the best public relations materials produced by libraries.

In 2020, the BPL Board of Trustees approved a bridge document, entitled the Strategic Roadmap (PDF), to update the principles of the Compass plan.  The Roadmap offers concrete actions which, while aligning with the principles of the Compass plan, is a living document, more clearly responsive to the challenges and opportunities of today’s environment.  This document is meant to guide the BPL until the completion of a future strategic plan, which will include significant public input.


I) User-Centered Institution
The BPL is a user-centered institution with services that anticipate and respond to neighborhood interests and the changing demographics of the City and Commonwealth.

II) Community Gathering
The BPL exists to serve and sustain communities that foster discovery, reading, thinking, conversing, teaching, and learning, in accessible, sustainable, and welcoming facilities throughout the City, as well as with an engaging online presence.

III) Special Collections
The BPL is committed to the ongoing development and preservation of its distinctive special collections, which provide citizens from all walks of life with access to their common cultural heritage.

IV) Center of Knowledge
The BPL is a center of knowledge that serves researchers, lifelong learners, and the intellectually curious through its incomparable collections, digital resources, and access to other scholarly networks.

V) Children and Teens
The BPL fosters the love of reading and skills in critical and creative thinking among children and teens – from early literacy through mature readership – by offering a slate of services that provide academic support and intellectual growth.

VI) Access and Innovation
The BPL provides access to and training in innovative technology, electronic resources, and digital information through its own holdings and its strategic position within the wider world of knowledge.

VII) Sustainable Organization
The BPL depends on sustainability of resources through a judicious stewardship of finances; active employee participation and professional development in an environment of dignity and respect; and partnerships that enrich services, expand outreach, and leverage public investment through private support.

The BPL leads the way for people of all ages with recreational reading and media, invigorating programs, user-created content, and opportunities for discovery in settings that are stimulating and engaging.

Approved by the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston – December 16, 2010
Updated and approved by the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston – November 15, 2011

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