The key to understanding the mission of Camden County Library and its recent accomplishments can be found in thelibrary’s strategic plan, a carefully crafted document for the years 1994-98 that lays out goals and defines “customers” in very specific terms. The focus of the plan is the people of Camden County, the individuals and special groups that reside in the area the library serves. In providing customer service, the library strives to ensure broad access to materials in a variety of formats. The strategic plan targets “people not traditionally served by the library system” as a group that will receive the library’s special attention and concern. Among those underserved groups, the library identified schools as being the most important. The strategic plan states that “A number of different innovations . . . are taking place both in libraries and in schools that would suggest greater cooperation is a natural evolution.” However, rather than waiting for the slow process of evolution to effect change, the Camden County Library took charge of the situation and built partnerships with the schools through the CamNet project.
The strategic plan targets “people not traditionally served by the library system”.
The strategic plan for 1994-98 describes where the library wants to be in the future and provides a map of how to get there. A grant from the New Jersey State Library provided the funding for the planning process. During a year’s time, a planning committee toured all the facilities in the system, met with branch managers and staff, and analyzed demographic information about the county. After a series of meetings with the library staff, library commissioners, and members of various library Friends’ groups, the planning committee revised the library’s mission statement and determined three service roles that would receive priority: popular materials center, reference center, and formal education support center. The public was brought into the planning process and a detailed strategic plan was prepared before the end of 1993. One of the primary goals of the library is to provide users “of all ages and backgrounds” with “access to materials, information and services.” The detailed demographic analysis of the plan for each part of the county provides a basis for accomplishing it. Having a plan based on a broad consensus has helped prepare the library to take advantage of funding opportunities. Further, a consistency flows out of the plan’s thoroughness, and out of the consensus of direction that seems to exist among CamNet partners.