he New Orleans Public Library has shared the culmination of a two-year project to provide a framework for its staff to focus its efforts while finding creative approaches for long-term impact.

The framework for creating a library lifestyle is built on three pillars:

  1. S.M.A.R.T. Kids
  2. A Ready Workforce
  3. Open Doors

These three goals were developed based on the feedback provided by both internal and external stakeholders. The intent of this plan is to create a "Library Lifestyle" for residents across New Orleans. To achieve this goal, the plan seeks to reimagine what the library is and does, and can do – it pushes leadership and staff to think beyond the “bricks and mortar” and create innovative ways to connect the community to the Library’s resources with the goal of significantly moving the needle towards positive outcomes for our children and families, for our workforce, and for our Library system.

Mayor Cantrell chimed in on the proposal:

“From my days in Broadmoor helping to bring back the Rosa Keller Library, I have always been dedicated to the vision of libraries as community anchors – where our residents can have access to not only books and technology but also social services, jobs and education. Working with our Office of Youth & Families, my Administration requested a planning effort from NOPL, and we're excited about the results. NOPL's strategic plan reflects this vision and plots a course for our libraries into the next decade and beyond. I want to thank the Library’s leadership, including City Librarian Gabriel Morley and its board members, for engaging hundreds of residents, staff and City leadership in this collaborative process. My Administration is committed to ensuring our libraries can be powerhouses of information, literacy, workforce development and youth enrichment as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic recovery and beyond,”

Stakeholder engagement began in 2019 with surveys, focus groups and stakeholder interviews to get community input on the future of the New Orleans Public Library. Through those efforts, more than 4,000 stakeholders offered their vision for the future of the library system. At the same time, a committee of NOPL staff members worked in earnest to develop a draft three-year strategic plan until the COVID-19 pandemic hit –  halting those efforts. In January 2021, the NOPL Board and NOPL Foundation renewed the planning efforts and incorporated the previous work, along with guidance from the Youth Master Plan and the Human Relations Commission, to produce this plan.

Libraries to Re-Open to Visitors
Libraries re-open their doors just in time for the summer heat.

“This strategic plan represents the collective voices of our stakeholders and boldly envisions a future in which the Public Library is an invaluable resource for every citizen of New Orleans, across all demographics," said Phala Mire, NOPL Board Chair. "We finally have a path forward that serves the best interests of our city, our schools, our neighborhoods and our quality of life.”

As the City begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions and our community is equitably recovering from the impacts of the pandemic – which includes the return to regular in-person services at most locations starting May 17 – stakeholders believe the New Orleans Public Library has an important role to play in that recovery. It was this passion that helped inspire the plan’s theme, “Creating a Library Lifestyle.”