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Masterclasses on evidence-based strategic planning and libraries benchmarking toolkits

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Libraries Deliver: how we'll achieve this, Taskforce

[Editor’s note: Sheila Bennett writes about our plans to run 2 workshops to find out more about the toolkits. Details below of when and where. Besides people running libraries, these session are also intended for portfolio holders, other senior councillors and senior leaders at officer level (such as chief executives, corporate directors and those leading council transformation or continuous improvement initiatives) - so please share the invitation with colleagues in your council.]

Creation of the toolkits

In August and September, Ian Leete from the Local Government Association (LGA) blogged about the work the Taskforce had been doing on Actions 10 and 13 from the Libraries Deliver: Ambition document. We designed and tested an evidence-based strategic planning toolkit and a Benchmarking Framework which libraries can choose to use for self-assessment.

These are designed to help libraries assess the services they currently provide, and then think long-term as they plan and develop their library service, in consultation with their communities. The strategic planning guidance lays an emphasis on how the library service can help meet wider corporate objectives, taking into account other local service provision both within the area and across council boundaries.

We wrote the strategic planning toolkit with 2 audiences in mind; library services themselves, but also those taking broader strategic and transformation decisions within councils (such as senior councillors and officers).

We drew the Benchmarking Framework together with the aim of making it possible to be used by either a complete library service, or by individual libraries. We also wanted it to be useable not only by council-run libraries, but also by community-managed libraries.

What do you think so far?

We’ve launched both the longer term evidence based strategic planning toolkit and the Benchmarking Framework in beta so that we can continue to update them with your feedback. We’d welcome your comments on how you are using the strategic planning toolkit and/or Benchmarking Framework, and anything you think could be added or amended to make them more useful.

Please send any feedback to

Learning from experience

To augment the toolkits, we know that it’s invaluable to hear from people who’ve already embarked on this sort of work, and learn from their real-life experiences - what worked well, what less well, the sort of techniques and approaches they’ve used, the challenges they’ve faced and the skills and outlook that’s needed for success.

So why not benefit from others’ hard work and come along to one of our free Masterclasses on these issues?

We’re holding them in London on 27 November, and Leeds on 29 November. Both events will run from 10:00 to 16:00 (registration will open at 09:30) and lunch / refreshments will be provided.

We’re just finalising our programme (we’ll put out more detail when that’s done), but the emphasis will be passing on practical learning and stimulating ideas through debate and sharing knowledge.

Who should attend?

These sessions are aimed at:

  • portfolio holders, other senior councillors and senior leaders at officer level (such as chief executives, corporate directors and those leading council transformation or continuous improvement initiatives), to help them:
    • appreciate the contribution library services can make to achieving overall corporate outcomes and objectives
    • understand why they should be putting library services at the strategic centre of their thinking and identify opportunities to link libraries into all corporate strategies
    • consider how the Benchmarking Framework for library services could be adopted in their council to support transformation and continuous improvement work
  • people involved in managing libraries (both council-run and community managed), to help them:
    • understand how they can contribute evidence and insights to help develop and support longer-term, evidence-based and sustainable approaches to planning future library provision
    • establish library services at the heart of council service delivery strategies
    • achieve understanding, buy-in and commitment to a sustainable and thriving library service from senior council leaders
      use the Benchmarking Framework to self-assess their services and identify areas for improvement

Signing up to attend

If you’re interested in attending the masterclasses, please register via the Eventbrite pages for London and Leeds.

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