King County Library System: looking toward the future | Stephen A. Smith

  • Monday, July 24, 2017 9:00am
  • Opinion

Stephen A. Smith

Over the past year and a half, the King County Library System has been immersed in a strategic planning process to bring into focus all the elements that will guide our work in the years ahead. For KCLS, the initiative was unprecedented in its scope and public outreach.

KCLS’ last strategic plan was forged more than 10 years ago, and it was time to re-evaluate whether our efforts were still properly aligned with the needs and priorities of the communities we serve in the most meaningful ways possible.

Why did the process take a year?

Because we wanted to hear from you. It was an intentionally broad, community-centric effort, including more library users, citizens, community leaders, staff and stakeholders than ever before. Through a series of surveys, interviews and focus groups, more than 4,000 people weighed in on a number of questions, such as: What are your hopes and aspirations – as individuals and as citizens? What are your concerns? What hurdles do you face in trying to navigate your lives? And how can KCLS help?

We received feedback from all sectors of the community, such as education, arts and culture, faith, business, science and technology. The process also tapped important data pertaining to cultural relevance, library usage and county-wide growth and demographics.

Five particular areas of concern emerged: population density; transportation; socio-economic disparities; affordable housing, and diversification. At the same time, it was clear that communities desire opportunities for interaction, where shared values of kindness, respect, learning, equity, and inclusion thrive.

Respondents were thoughtful in their comments and insights, providing us with a deeper understanding of personal and community challenges – and revealing enormous potential for civic engagement.

KCLS took the time to listen, and a year later, a major milestone has been reached. Our new strategic focus – to create opportunities through meaningful connections – means we will work hard to link individuals, families, communities and organizations with the information and services they need to navigate life’s complexities, and to provide equitable avenues for people from all walks of life to build the skills and knowledge they need for success. It shows our commitment to bridging differences and creating communities of inclusion and belonging. In short, our strategic focus reflects the overarching themes we heard from our 49 library communities as most valuable and important in their lives, both present and future.

The guiding principles that have always framed KCLS’ work – our mission, vision and values – also have been refreshed:

Our mission: to inspire the people of King County to succeed through ideas, interaction and information.

Our vision: a world where knowledge allows diverse communities to prosper and grow.

Our values: knowledge; diversity, equity and inclusion; intellectual freedom.

You, KCLS and the road ahead: Paved with Knowledge is our just released report that will guide us as we continue to create programs, services, activities and partnerships that provide opportunities for the entire KCLS community to learn, grow, prosper and engage not only with library staff, but with friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. The document is available online at kcls.org/theroadahead.

Stephen A. Smith is interim director of the King County Library System.

More in Opinion

Courtesy photo
                                A 1973 photo of the Southcenter Theatre and the lower left corner of the mall.
Cinerama near Southcenter was popular movie venue

Generations of kids and young adults have fond memories associated with going… Continue reading

Some policies are misguided, merit scrutiny

We elect officials to posts of trust throughout our country to wisely… Continue reading

Allowing ‘ADUs’ means the end of low-density single-family neighborhoods

Remember that postcard asking “What do YOU think?” Most of us glanced… Continue reading

Old cow path nearly blocked freeway construction

In the late 1960s, the state of Washington issued contracts to build… Continue reading

School may be out but June is still busy

June is exceptionally busy for the Tukwila School District because of the… Continue reading

Spoilers ahead: Season two did not disappoint

Diving into the new episodes of the Netflix hit.

Herman Anderson, proprietor of the Golden Arrow Dairy, purchased the first insulated dairy delivery truck in the area as well as the first electric pasteurizer. This business was a prominent icon in Tukwila until the coming of the Interstate freeways in the mid 1960s. Photo (circa 1940s) credit to Wynn (son of Herman) and Maxine Anderson. Submitted photo
City began annexation era in 1948 with Golden Arrow Dairy

Mayor Charles Baker and future mayor, John Strander, as chairman of the… Continue reading

It’s necessary for residents to feel safe

In February, I attended a council-sponsored meeting at the Church by the… Continue reading

Summer’s A-Comin’ at the pool!

We’ve had a few runs of sunny days this spring to give… Continue reading

Detached housing units could help struggling families

Here is a fundamental truth. Everyone needs to be some place. We… Continue reading

Thank you to those who support the school district

As the school district makes its transition to summer learning and vacation… Continue reading

Tips for staying safe at the pool

Let’s talk water safety. May is national Water Safety Month, and the… Continue reading