In 1995, the library published The 1995-2000 Strategic Plan of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh after an extensive examination of the community it serves, the relative importance of the roles it plays in that community, and the challenges and opportunities it faces. Funding from the Vira I. Heinz Endowment supported this three-year planning process, which was guided by the Public Library Associations’s Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries and involved some 40 focus groups across the city. Library staff and community volunteers determined that three of the library’s functions were most important to the community: supporting lifelong learning, providing information, and serving as a cultural center. The planning process further produced a mission statement, a vision statement, and identified guiding principles, critical management issues, and goals.
In a parallel effort, funding from the Buhl Foundation enabled the library to engage a library technical consulting firm to develop project plans and a budget to implement the “information strategies for Allegheny County Public Libraries” which both the 1990 president’s report and Lucchino’s The Quiet Crisis report had recommended. With both a technical development plan and a library strategic plan in hand, the library was able to make the case to local foundations that the 10 million dollars required to build an electronic information network to serve the entire Allegheny County was a wise investment.
The library administration and staff are following the technical plan for now, but within two years, they expect that the technical plan will change as technology or the community changes. “A plan provides a good base,” say administrators, “but we must keep it flexible. It will change, but we won’t have to re-do it entirely. It’s very important to move ahead whenever we can.” In other words, they do not let the technical plan stand in the way of progress.