This paper aims to show the main action areas to which public libraries are devoting their efforts and resources at the onset of the twenty‐first century, despite their own particularities and needs.
The methodology is based on a comparative analysis on a sample of so‐called “strategic” and “long‐term” plans from US public libraries covering from 1998 through 2010. Of all identified priorities, those appearing in at least 40 per cent of the plans were used for the analysis. Thus, the paper narrowed the list of priorities down to the five most repeated ones in the sample of plans, and their peculiarities are set forth here.
The paper finds that, although the method used is a simple one and the results are limited to the set of libraries whose plans have been analysed, there are coincidences with some predictions in some papers on the role public libraries should play in the twenty‐first century.
In the long term, this type of research permits comparison of trends among libraries from different countries and the monitoring of how they evolve with time. It can also be useful to library managers as a benchmark.
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