Strategic value planning for libraries

Michael A. Germano (University Library, California State University, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Shirley M. Stretch‐Stephenson (Department of Marketing, California State University, Los Angeles, California, USA)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Publication date: 17 August 2012



Strategic plans are developed and executed by businesses in order to chart a course toward an idealized future destination for the organization. Normally, this means aspiring to become an industry leader or niche holder by increasing market share, developing customer loyalty, penetrating new markets or some other defined goal that is ultimately premised on growth in revenue attainment. Because of the competitive nature of business and the environmental changes that have occurred and continue to occur at an increasing rate, marketing has become a key functional area within most enterprises' strategic plans. Today's strategies require the development of plans that embrace customer engagement in an effort to increase revenue. As such, marketing is fast becoming a critical functional area surrounding the development and execution of a strategic plan. Examining marketing's role in strategic planning, as well as the critical thought work conducted by marketing and sales personnel as they influence organizational cultures that are friendly to implementing competitive strategy and planning activities, is useful for libraries if they wish to engage in beneficial and viable strategic planning of their own. Unfortunately, libraries as non‐profit service organizations are rarely in a position to create revenue based strategies. Instead, libraries must focus on strategies that encourage value creation. Additionally, in the absence of a dedicated, full‐fledged marketing group within a library, it becomes vital that such non‐profit service organizations develop replacements or similar organizational analogs for integrating marketing functions while at the same time developing a marketing‐like, patron‐centered orientation and culture required for successful market‐based strategic planning. This paper aims to investigate this issue.


Informed by the two authors' combined extensive experience in both the theoretical and practical applications of sales and marketing, the paper discusses the current trends in market planning, especially those aimed at utilizing the marketing function as a critical element of strategic planning and execution.


The paper finds that libraries that engage in strategic planning can incrementally improve their chances of success during the execution of that plan if they make an effort to include the marketing process throughout the development and execution of such plans. Additionally, since marketing and its implied customer orientations provide a strong conduit to an organization's understanding of customer needs and perceptions of value, library strategic planning that incorporates traditional marketing elements and tactics like environmental scans, customer value creation and promotion of unique benefits will provide the best foundation for competitive library strategic plans.

Practical implications

The authors rely on their practical and theoretical experience in marketing and planning to convey a more purposeful sense of library strategic planning that includes library marketing as a required element in order to foster strategic planning success.


The paper shares specific ideas regarding the purpose, role and benefits of strategic library marketing that are connected to improving the likelihood of long term strategic planning success, especially when such plans are aimed at increasing perceptions of library value.



Germano, M. and Stretch‐Stephenson, S. (2012), "Strategic value planning for libraries", The Bottom Line, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 71-88.

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