Strategic Plan




The Haverhill Public Library is the institution in the City that connects our community to lifelong learning and enrichment.



The Haverhill Public Library is a focal point of our community, meeting the lifelong learning needs of all people. The Library provides exceptional service, materials, and programs to meet the needs of the community.




September 15, 2016


The Honorable James J. Fiorentini, Mayor and Chairman

Richard J. Sheehan, Vice Chairman

Deborah Y. Coletti

William J. Klueber

J.Edwin Veasey

Kathleen Bresnahan

James A. Rurak




This plan is the result of the hard work and dedication of many

members of the community and library staff.


Community Planning Committee

Beverly Donovan, Haverhill Chamber of Commerce

Jan Williams, Director, Buttonwoods

Gail Feigenbaum, NECC

Ann Hart, Haverhill Public Library patron

Cassandra Gaff, HHS student

Cindy Cavallaro, Friends Board Member

Darlene Beal, Executive Director of HCMedia

Laura Franzone, Community Action, EEC teacher, DOE teacher

Alison Colby-Campbell, Heartbeat of Haverhill

Andres X. Vargas, Haverhill City Council

Sergeant John R. Rosario, Haverhill Police Department

Officer Adam Durkee, Haverhill Police Department

Andrew Herlihy, Haverhill Community Development


Staff Planning Committee

Sarah Moser, Director

Ricky Sirois, Assistant Director

Nancy Chase, Head of Youth Services

Nancy House, Head of Reference and Information Services

Nancy Rea, Consultant





The City of Haverhill, located 30 miles northeast of Boston on the Merrimack River was established in 1640 as Pentucket; Haverhill was incorporated as a City in 1870.  Although originally settled as farm land, the City evolved into a major industrial center through the establishment of saw and grist mills in the late 17th Century, tanneries and boat yards in the 18th Century, and shoe manufacturing in the 19th Century.  The City remained a thriving industrial center until the severe depression of the 1930s.  In the late 20th and early 21st Century, the City has seen a resurgence of growth, with computer technology and research industries moving into Haverhill’s industrial parks and central business district.

According to 2010 U.S. Census Data, the population of Haverhill was 60,879; an increase of 2,000 from the 2000 Census. In 2014 the population had increased to 62,488. The demographics of Haverhill have changed over the years, with 14.5% of Haverhill residents claiming Latino heritage. 20.9% of residents speak a language other than English at home.

From the 1930s through much of the 1970s, Haverhill was in a depressed and declining state, but growth and change have been the major themes of the last few decades.  Housing trends in the 20th Century led to the conversion of several old factories into loft apartments and condominiums.  Most recently, the removal of the long vacant Woolworth building has led to new development along the river. Harbor Place will welcome additional businesses and a UMass satellite campus to Haverhill and kick start renewal along the river.  A recent community scan of the City is attached in appendix A.




The Haverhill Public Library was established in 1873 in an agreement between wealthy industrialist E.J.M. Hale and the City of Haverhill.  The agreement stipulated that Mr. Hale would donate land for a building site and half the money necessary to build and furnish a library if the people of Haverhill would donate the other half.  He further stipulated that the City, in accepting this gift, would establish a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees and assume responsibility for the annual operating expenses of the library.  The original library building opened on November 18, 1875.  In 1965 the Trustees decided to build a new library facility to replace the original building.  Construction began in 1966 and the new library opened in June of 1969.  A subsequent renovation project, completed in 1997, increased space for materials, seating, and overall size from 30,500 to 44,000 square feet.


The Haverhill Public Library is governed by a seven-member self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.  The City is responsible for funding the maintenance of library facilities and staff salaries.  As the owners in trust of the Library, the Trustees are responsible for ensuring that the City fulfills its part of the agreement, as well as providing an annual appropriation of funds for the purchase of library materials and other services.  Ultimately, the library’s Board of Trustees is responsible for the Library, its facilities and services, policies and procedures.   Since the Library’s inception, a priority of the Board of Trustees has been the development of a Library Endowment, the interest from which is used to purchase materials and to supplement the City of Haverhill’s budget for the Library.



The goals of a Strategic Plan are to identify key areas a public library must focus on in order to meet the changing needs of the community and to share that information with all library stakeholders – patrons, staff, and community. The selection of some goals over others does not mean that other aspects of the Library’s work are less important. The selection of a goal simply acknowledges that the Library will focus additional effort and resources in that area.

The Haverhill Public Library selected professional consultant Nancy Rea to facilitate the strategic planning process. Nancy used the process outlined in Strategic Planning for Results, written by Sandra Nelson for the Public Library Association and published in 2008 by the American Library Association. This process focuses on assessing the needs of the community that the library serves.  The library determines which of these needs can be met by the library and addressed in the strategic plan.

The Library formed a Community Planning Committee to help assess the needs of the Haverhill community in the next five years. Nancy conducted two meetings of the Community Planning Committee to gather input and identify possible service responses and goals for the library. The group also considered a vision for the community of Haverhill.

To solicit staff input, Nancy led a focus group with all staff that included an analysis of strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results (SOAR) of the library, followed by consideration of possible service responses for the library, and finally a vision and possible goals for the library.

The final piece of data came from a Community Survey the Library posted on its website, made available in-house, and distributed to other community locations.




As part of their thinking about the library and the needs of the community that it serves, the Community Planning Committee worked in small groups to discuss the City and developed Vision Statements for Haverhill.  These statements reflect the direction in which the group hopes to see the community moving and helped direct the Vision Statement for the library.


  • Haverhill will be a welcoming City to people of all cultures, recognized for its geographic uniqueness, historical, artistic, and cultural resources. Providing opportunities for employment, education, and recreation, Haverhill is a City that honors the past and continually prepares for the future.


  • Haverhill will be a safe community that fosters innovation, civic engagement, and pride for the City; while embracing the diversity, history and beauty of its cultures-past, present, and future.



In their work the Community Committee and the staff looked at eighteen possible roles that the library might fill in the community.


The Community Planning Committee identified five service responses for the library to consider in the new plan.

  • Celebrate Diversity: Cultural Awareness
  • Visit a Comfortable Place: Physical and Virtual Spaces
  • Create Young Readers: Early Literacy
  • Know Your Community: Community Resources and Services
  • Learn to Read and Write: Adult, Teen, and Family Literacy
  • Staff identified the following five service responses:
  • Celebrate Diversity: Cultural Awareness
  • Visit a Comfortable Place: Physical and Virtual Spaces
  • Connect to the Online World: Public Internet Access
  • Satisfy Curiosity: Lifelong Learning
  • Stimulate Imagination: Reading, Viewing and Listening for Pleasure

These services responses guided the development of Goals and Objectives for this plan.




In late 2015, the management team and consultant developed a short survey designed to collect public input for the strategic plan. Copies of the survey were made available at each service desk in the library, as well the Mayor’s office. An electronic version was available via links on HPL’s website and all social media platforms. The survey was available for two months and consisted of twelve questions addressing issues ranging from the building’s cleanliness to collection development to program offerings. We received fifty-two online responses and one hundred sixty-nine paper responses. Our respondents skewed heavily to age 45+ and were overwhelmingly female. Overall, the library received positive ratings on virtually every question, with concerns over bathroom cleanliness and parking issues being the only largely negative areas of feedback. Some respondents continue to favor traditional interactions with staff and are less positive in their feelings toward automation and a move to more electronic resources. Overall, the results of the survey showed a wide range of valued services and priorities.  Complete survey results are in attached Appendix B.


Input from the community survey, the community planning committee, and Library staff guided the focus of this new plan the creation of goals and objectives.  During the course of the Library’s Strategic Planning process, several areas of need were identified and incorporated into four service goals for the FY2017- FY2021 Strategic Plan. It is the goal of the Trustees and library leadership to work to close the gap in funding and meet the state mandated MAR. HPL is working toward a future where a waiver will be unnecessary.



Outstanding customer service is a hallmark of the Haverhill Public Library, and it is fundamental to the Library’s purpose. In fulfillment of its promise to carry out its mission with “exceptional service,” our focus must be on delivering services that meet community need and ensure continued community support. Growth and diversification of Library services depend upon the Library’s ability to maintain its focus as a customer-driven organization.




The Library’s collection remains a great strength. Funded solely by the Trustees’ endowment fund, individual donations, and Library-generated revenue, the collection has remarkable depth. As the diversity of Haverhill grows, it is imperative that the Library’s collection reflect the cultural, ethnic, religious, economic, and gender diversity of the community.




It has been nineteen years since the Library’s last renovation and expansion, and during that time, use of the facility has increased dramatically. The Library building is reaching its “end of life” point and will continue to need refurbishment and upgrades to meet modern challenges. Keeping facilities functioning well is a constant concern.




The Library continues to experience an ever-increasing demand for wireless access and for all technology, especially mobile technologies. The Library’s forty-two public computers are used by more than 1,200 people weekly. As economic conditions have been slow to improve and the digital divide continues to grow, the Library faces increased pressure to serve as the community technology center. For many in our community, the Library’s technology is the only technology available. We must continually evaluate and upgrade computer services to meet community needs.



Staff Development

In recognizing that the Library’s most valuable resource is a highly-trained, knowledgeable staff, we must continue to provide professional development opportunities for all staff. Technology needs change quickly; the demand for insight into the latest devices and technology trends requires Library staff to constantly upgrade their skills. Leadership will continually assess the need for additional staff, or staff restructuring, to better serve the needs of the public.



Community Involvement

The 21st Century library is often the heart of the community – a place where diverse groups come together to interact and find the resources they need to live their lives. The Library must look for opportunities to partner with community organizations, including service and charitable clubs, educational institutions, other non-profit service organizations, social groups, municipalities, and business organizations promoting the local economy. Community involvement is a valuable part of sharing the Library’s message and mission.




GOAL #1 Facilities:  Library users will have a safe, well maintained, welcoming facility

  • OBJECTIVE: Routinely evaluate cleanliness of public restrooms


  • Custodian regularly reports conditions to Director
  • Director will report any issues to Board

Implementation:  Director, Custodian, Management Team


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2018, conduct a space study to evaluate and upgrade seating and work areas for public use


  • Explore hiring a consultant
  • Visit other libraries
  • Develop space plan

Implementation:  Director, Management Team


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2019, update and improve the children’s Library and program room spaces to offer more seating and interactive play opportunities


  • Assess current space with new space plan in mind
  • Visit other libraries
  • Develop plan

Implementation:  Director, Head of Youth Services


  • OBJECTIVE: Annually evaluate the need for new furniture


  • Assess condition of existing furniture
  • Secure funding
  • Order new as appropriate

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, Custodian


  • OBJECTIVE: By FY2019, improve magazine room


  • Assess current space
  • Secure funding
  • Order any needed shelving or furniture

Implementation:  Director, Management Team


OBJECTIVE:  Annually assess security needs in the Library


  • Review incident reports
  • Explore possible solutions with Staff and Board

Implementation:  Director, Management Team


OBJECTIVE:  By June 2017, complete landscaping project


  • Contract for planting needed to complete plan
  • Schedule work

Implementation:  Director, Management Team


GOAL #2 Technology:  Library users will have adequate, up-to-date technology to meet their informational needs


  • OBJECTIVE: Assess annually opportunities for improved social media presence


  • Assess current social media use
  • Monitor trends
  • Consider implementation of new social media

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, IT Specialist


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2018, develop a more efficient/effective method for creating email lists for direct patron contact


  • Explore what other libraries are using
  • Literature search
  • Consult with MVLC
  • Purchase software as appropriate

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, IT Specialist


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2020, explore ways to improve HPL website by including more links to in-demand services and products


  • Monitor trends
  • Consult with MVLC
  • Purchase appropriate software

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, IT Specialist


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2020, provide additional, up-to-date technology resources for a growing adolescent population


  • Monitor current trends
  • Consult with MVLC
  • Purchase appropriate software
  • Market resource to adolescent population

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, IT Specialist


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2022, digitize photos in the Special Collections


  • Assess photo collection to select items for digitization
  • Consult with BPL
  • Contract for digitization

Implementation:  Management Team, Reference Team


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2019, explore online payment of fees/fines


  • Explore options available
  • Consult with MVLC
  • Purchase software as appropriate

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, IT Specialist


GOAL #3 Collection:  Library users will have materials with content and format that meets their informational and recreational needs


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2020, use current ILS data to assess the breakdown of the HPL collection and develop a shelving plan to reflect demand


  • Assess ILS capabilities
  • Purchase any needed software
  • Develop plan based on data

Implementation:  Director, Management Team, IT Specialist


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2018, improve marketing of the HPL collection using displays, signage, and other opportunities


  • Assess current marketing
  • Monitor trends and tools
  • Purchase software or signs as appropriate

Implementation:  Director, Management Team


  • OBJECTIVE: Annually evaluate and weed to provide room for new material


  • Assess current collection
  • Assess current community needs
  • Weed as indicated

Implementation:  Management Team, Department Staff


  • OBJECTIVE: Annually staff will evaluate new formats by which materials can be accessed


  • Monitor trends
  • Purchase new formats as indicated

Implementation:  Management Team, Department Staff


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2020, provide a more diverse collection of resources to reinforce the evolving education standards and various learning levels, including for adolescents


  • Assess current collection
  • Monitor trends
  • Purchase materials as indicated

Implementation:  Head of Youth Services


GOAL # 4 Programs/Services:  Library users will have programs and services that meet their needs at times that are convenient


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2020, develop ongoing, regular program “series” that can be advertised and planned well in advance


  • Determine needs of the community
  • Explore appropriate programming series
  • Contract with presenters as appropriate
  • Schedule and advertise series

Implementation:  Management Team, Adult Services Team


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2021, explore ways of better promoting databases and other online services, including to a senior population


  • Assess current databases
  • Determine community needs
  • Consult with MVLC and MBLC
  • Purchase databases as indicated
  • Promote databases to targeted populations

Implementation:  Management Team, Adult Services Team


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2021, increase civic related programs to five annually


  • Determine needs/interests of the community
  • Explore possible programs
  • Schedule and promote

Implementation:  Management Team, Adult Services Team


  • OBJECTIVE: Annually evaluate and continue to build partnerships with other City agencies


  • Assess current partnerships
  • Reach out to other potential partners
  • Plan collaborative projects as appropriate

Implementation:  Director, Management Team


  • OBJECTIVE: By June 2020, increase number of hands on art events to five annually


  • Assess current events
  • Determine community needs/interests
  • Explore possible events
  • Schedule and promote

Implementation:  Management Team, Head of Youth Services


  • OBJECTIVE: Annually evaluate and continue to offer innovative literacy and STEAM related programming, both in house and throughout the community


  • Evaluate current offerings
  • Monitor trends
  • Determine community needs and interests
  • Plan, schedule and promote programs

Implementation:  Head of Youth Services


  • OBJECTIVE: Staff will annually be offered development or training opportunities to enhance their skills and ability to serve the community


  • Assess Staff training needs/interests
  • Monitor training opportunities
  • Make Staff aware of opportunities
  • Provide follow-up evaluation and opportunities to use new skills

Implementation:  Director, Management Team




The Trustees and Staff of the Haverhill Public Library are dedicated to an ongoing planning, implementation, and evaluation effort, with formal collection of data; an annual review; and development of recommendations for future Action Plans.


This plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in September 2016 and accepted by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in November 2016.