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Public library planning: a routine practice?

Ana R. Pacios (Library and Information Science and Documentation Department, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Getafe, Spain)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 13 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to study whether organisations, in this case libraries, continue to plan after having done so at least once, and whether they conduct planning on a routine basis.


The websites of 71 libraries, that in 2006 had a strategic or long-term plan, were analysed to determine whether in 2016 they had a new plan in place. Where there was none or where the name of the plan had changed, e-mails were sent to the head librarian to ascertain the reasons.


A total of 71.83 per cent of the libraries in the sample had a new plan underway in October 2016, i.e., ten years later. A significant rise (+8.03 per cent) in the number of three-year plans was observed relative to 2006, perhaps because the crisis and resulting uncertainty have induced libraries to narrow their decision-making windows. A preference for the term “strategic plan”: over “long-range plan” was also detected in 2016.


The study provides empirical evidence of the existence of routine planning. The continuity of plans in a series of libraries shows that in practice planning is a systematic, continuous and iterative activity, as contended in planning theory.



Pacios, A.R. (2017), "Public library planning: a routine practice?", Library Management, Vol. 38 No. 4/5, pp. 237-247.



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