Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Draft Compass Outcomes and Strategies

by Gina Perille

As promised, we are posting the working draft of the Compass Outcomes and Strategies Document 09012011. It is a PDF document and is 13 pages in all.

Here are some notes on the document’s structure:

  • Principles appear at the tops of pages and are ordered with roman numerals.
  • Outcomes appear beneath each principle and ordered with uppercase letters.
  • Strategies appear beneath outcomes and are ordered with arabic numbers.
  • Potential ideas for staff-developed work plans appear under strategies and in italics. It is not expected that these internal work plan notes will appear in the final document.

The next milestone in this nearly two-year planning process is for the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees to receive a copy of the draft strategic plan. That will happen on September 15. If you are able to make your comments before that date – either via email to or as a post on this blog – we would greatly appreciate it. The strategic plan will be refined by the Strategic Planning Committee and Staff Compass Committee before and after the September 15 Trustee meeting. Both groups will continue to review comments and feedback. The Boston Public Library Board of Trustees will have the opportunity to formally adopt the strategic plan at their November 15 meeting.

Please give the document a good read and let us know whether this resonates with you, is clear, and whether anything is missing.

One Response to “Draft Compass Outcomes and Strategies”

  1. David Vieira says:


    I would like to thank the Compass committee, Strategic Planning Committee and all of the staff and patrons who engaged in this two year plus effort. I had the privilege of attending many of the roundtable discussionsthat took place in the several branches to observe for myself direct involvement of the community. For most of those sessions I attended as President of the Citywide Friends of the BPL so my comments should be viewed in that context.

    I. User-centered institution
    Evaluate and improve programs and services

    Please discard euphemisms-not everyone knows what you mean by “New Bostonians”. Say what that means-residents of Boston from other national cultures who may or may not have English language skills and may need special attention to access library resources.
    A-3.a Hours.

    We have just finished another summer with no Saturday service in the branches and no Sunday service at Copley. Consider maintaininga 5-day summer schedule  that allow some branches to be open Monday-Friday and others Tuesday-Saturday. Copley could consider a similar schedule by restructuring staff schedules  to incorporate Sunday as part of the standard work week. This should also apply to winter hours at Copley.

    Create meaningful and dynamic advisory groups.

    You already have several in place-the various Friends groups, but you rarely consult or meet with them (branch librarians excepted).

    Non-English website interface

    The MBTA website has a basic Google interface that translates into 15 languages. Check it out.

    C-4 Partnerships

    See B-2 above re Friends groups

    II. Community gathering

    Develop a long-term capital plan to remove barriers to accessibility

    The libraries are the most heavily trafficked general use public buildings in the city. ADA is 21 years old. How much more “long term”
    planning does COB need? It took 19 years of
    agitation from the public and several hearings to get a basic automatic door installed at the Johnson Building entrance. I suggest you change “long term” to “immediate”and sit down with COB to work on the details. There are several branches that need immediate attention.

    III. Collections

    A broad statement here. I understand the need to preserve and protect the current assets of the BPL. The branches also have historical records and artwork that need preservation. As an example many of the Town of Hyde Park records are archived at the Hyde Park Branch, as well as The Hyde Park Historical Society, which shares space in the branch. Branch artwork also needs to be preserved, restored and displayed as part of the heritage of the individual neighborhoods.

    IV. Center of Knowledge

    No comments

    V. Children and Teens

    Youth Services Coordinatorand Children’s/teen staff

    EVERY library should have both a Children’s and Teen professional librarian on staff. You can’t accomplish any of the other goals in this section without proper staffing. If you can’t afford a full-time staffer for each branch, hire someone who can do a split shift between two locations.

    VI. Access and Innovation

    No comments

    VII. SustainableOrganization

    General comment

    The various Friends groups have been the BPL’s first line of defense for many years but they basically go unacknowledged by both BPL management and Trustees. They raise and expend thousands of dollars annually to support branch programs and the purchase of books, media, museum passes, equipment and supplies. They maintain relationships with neighborhood organizations, businesses and schools. Yet in this entire section the word “friends” appears only once, and in lower case. It’s about time the BPL starts paying more attention to who their Friends really are and what they do and have done to keep the system viable.


    FUN is what you make of it.

    Thanks for the opportunity to submit these comments. I will look forward to continuing the process.

    Dave Vieira
    Immediate Past President
    Citywide Friends of the BPL