A Plan for Tomorrow

The Des Moines Public Library is pleased to announce it has completed a system-wide strategic and master facilities planning initiative in collaboration with Ivy Library, The Ivy Group’s Philadelphia-based library division.

After nearly a year of study, DMPL and Ivy Library published a comprehensive report, A Plan for Tomorrow, which details research findings and strategic recommendations. The plan will guide DMPL trustees and staff as they address the challenges of providing public library service to a growing community of more than 200,000 individuals in an age of evolving technological demands.

“The in-depth process was a very thorough and involved look at our current operations, our facilities and how we will need to proceed into the next decade,” said DMPL Executive Director Greg Heid. “The Library Board of Trustees and staff are very pleased with the information, insight, and opinion that the public and stakeholders of the community have brought forth through the planning process facilitated by Ivy Library.  It’s a vast amount of valuable feedback we will use to guide our future decision making processes for future library services to our community.”

Over hundreds of dedicated hours, Ivy Library and DMPL conducted qualitative and quantitative research on the programs and services the library offers, including 27 executive interviews with community leaders and input from 640 individuals through focus groups, online surveys, public telephone and online surveys, and meetings with the Board, and senior management team.

In developing the strategic plan, the team:

  • Benchmarked DMPL’s performance against 14 national peers;
  • Conducted a market segmentation and lifestyle analysis;
  • Assessed current technology and facilities; and
  • Gathered input from 640 individuals through six focus groups; internal online surveys of library trustees, library foundation board members, senior management, staff and volunteers; public telephone and online surveys; and meetings with library trustees, library foundation board members, volunteers and senior management.

The Ivy Group also worked with a local firm, the State Public Policy Group, who conducted extensive interviews with 27 local leaders to gain their perspectives on the needs and trends (social, political, economic, and demographic) affecting the DMPL’s service area and ways in which the DMPL might help address those needs.  The interviews explored opportunities for the library to support municipal goals in such areas as educational achievement, economic development, interdepartmental cooperation, and customers, and to identify possible collaborations and partnerships which the DMPL might form with public and private sector entities in the future.

“We learned the Des Moines Public Library ranks first among its peer institutions across the nation regarding programs and program attendance—it is important the library continues to engage its community,” said Davis. “It was a pleasure working with Greg and his colleagues at the library to learn what their customers need and want and make actionable goals to better provide those programs and services.”

Through their research, Ivy Library identified 12 strategic priorities on which A Plan for Tomorrow focuses:

  • Customer Service
  • Technology
  • Fundraising
  • Taking a Lead in Education
  • Support for Economic Development
  • Libraries as Public Space
  • Outreach to Underserved Populations
  • Community Affairs
  • Advocacy and Government Relations
  • Branding and Marketing
  • Staff Training and Development
  • Internal Relationships

For each priority, Ivy Library developed individual initiatives—some more timely than others, and some already in progress. A few of the action items include securing funding to reinstitute mobile library services in disadvantaged areas; conducting a study to realign hours of operation to customer needs; rebranding the library around the themes of empowerment, transformation, and self-improvement; and promoting online resources and providing training for business owners and entrepreneurs.

“We learned the Des Moines Public Library ranks first among its peer institutions across the nation regarding programs and program attendance—it is important the library continues to engage its community,” said Ivy Group Partner Nancy Davis, who led the project. “It was a pleasure working with Greg and his colleagues at the library to learn what their customers need and want and make actionable goals to better provide those programs and services.”

About the Des Moines Public Library

Founded in 1866, the Des Moines Public Library serves a population of approximately 200,000. With six branches, the urban library supports multiple outreach programs and houses four special collections including the Iowa Collection—an assortment of books and other items reflecting the history and culture of the State of Iowa and the City of Des Moines. For more information, visit www.dmpl.org.

About The Ivy Group and Ivy Library

Since 1989, The Ivy Group has served clients across the nation with marketing, consulting, research, branding, advertising, graphic design, website development, and public relations from offices in Philadelphia and Charlottesville, Va. Its library division, Ivy Library, has conducted research and facilitated plans for public libraries in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Idaho, Georgia and more. For more information, visit: www.ivygroup.com or www.ivylibrary.com.

About State Public Policy Group (SPPG)

SPPG is a policy and organization company that serves public, private, and nonprofit sector clients with a vast range of needs and interests. They are recognized for their depth of experience, reliability, and innovative ideas to fit each client’s situation. Their staff is comprised of people with uncommon interests and backgrounds with a common interest in doing good work and creating better policy to support a bright future. For more information, visit: www.sppg.com.