San Antonio Public Library asks public to weigh in on strategic plan

The San Antonio Public Library will present a draft of its new Strategic Plan to the community during a series of public forums scheduled to obtain public input on the plan. The new Strategic Plan is designed to reemphasize the Library’s top priority of supporting education and learning opportunities through an expanded role in early literacy education and stronger relationships with area school districts. The plan also seeks to support economic and workforce development by expanding its successful Jobs and Small Business Center to its branch libraries and to foster community connections by customizing spaces, services, and collections at individual branches to serve the needs and interests of people who live around the branch.

The Strategic Plan sets forth a new mission statement for the more-than-100-year-old Library: The San Antonio Public Library changes lives through the transformative power of information, imagination and ideas.

“Libraries change lives, they transform people’s lives,” said Jean Brady, chair of the Library Board of Trustees. “We want to have a great City of San Antonio, and we know that libraries help make great cities.” 

The draft Plan is the result of more than nine months of planning and research that included a comprehensive market segmentation analysis of consumer preferences in various parts of the city; a review of library trends and best practices; benchmarking against peer library systems; online surveys with Library staff, senior management, San Antonio Public Library Foundation board members, and Friends of the San Antonio Public Library members; and a facilities assessment. Reports and the draft plan are available for review at

“This is a time of great change and reinvention for libraries across the country,” said Ramiro Salazar, San Antonio Public Library Director. “The Library Strategic Plan provides a clear and cohesive vision of the future, which seeks not to predict, but to prepare and position the Library to adapt to changing market conditions and meet the needs of its customers in the Information Age. To remain relevant and customer-focused, libraries cannot exist as mere warehouses of information. They must become facilitators and collaborators of 21st century learning by helping users obtain the wide range of abilities and competencies needed to thrive in today’s society.”

Development of the draft Strategic Plan was guided by the Leadership Advisory Committee, a group of community leaders from the fields of finance, education, technology, government, media, health care, non-profit and business that offered insights and perspectives into the needs of the community and how the Library can best meet those needs now and into the future.

“Education and economic development are the highest priorities of the Library’s Strategic Plan, and I’m very glad to be a part of the Library’s continuing to move in this direction,” said Tom Frost, Emeritus Chairman of Frost Bank and Chairman of the Leadership Advisory Committee.

“When I was a little boy, I used to walk to my branch library two blocks away, and I read virtually every book in that library,” said Alex Briseño, former city manager of San Antonio and a member of the Leadership Advisory Committee. “Those kinds of opportunities changed my life, and that’s the kind of impact the Library needs to make in this community. This Strategic Plan goes a long way in articulating ideas for doing that.”

A consulting team led by KGBTexas and The Ivy Group, which has consulted for more than 50 library systems across North America, drew on best practices and innovations from high-achieving libraries around the country. The consulting team worked with more than 60 Library staff members who served in Work Groups that tackled five areas of strategic focus:

• Support Educational and Learning Opportunities

• Support Workforce and Economic Development

• Foster Community Connections

• Increase Public Awareness

• Improve Organizational Health

The Work Groups then presented specific strategies addressing their designated area of focus to the Library Task Force, a group of senior level management established to confirm goals, project parameters and timelines and to make recommendations to the Work Groups. The draft plan was presented to the Library Board of Trustees and the Leadership Advisory Committee on June 22 before being posted on the Library’s website for public review and input.

The Library has scheduled a total of eight public forums on the draft Strategic Plan, and the public has until July 27 to provide feedback before it is presented to the Library Board of Trustees and the City Council for adoption. Unlike any other department within the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Public Library System is overseen by a City Council-appointed Board of Trustees, which is exclusively responsible for the management, care, control and maintenance of all Library system properties.

Public Forums

Wednesday, July 13 - 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. - Las Palmas Branch Library*

Thursday, July 14 - 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. - Parman Branch Library at Stone Oak

Saturday, July 16 - 10:00 a.m.-noon - Molly Pruitt Library at Roosevelt

Monday, July 18 - 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. - Central Library

Tuesday, July 19 - 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. – Mission Branch Library

Wednesday, July 20 - 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. - Great Northwest Branch Library

Friday, July 22 - noon-1:00 p.m. - Central Library

Monday, July 25 - 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. – Johnston Branch Library

*Spanish translation available

Editor's Note: NOWCastSA will livestream the Monday, July 18 an Monday, July 25 forums on its web site.