Process and Timeline

Given the challenging and complex conditions in which we find ourselves, this strategic planning process seeks to align SFPL’s 21st century library services with community ambitions and institutional goals. Recognizing the ambitious and impactful goals for this effort, the Strategic Planning team will build on SFPL’s institutional strengths demonstrated in the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, as well as champion SFPL staff’s deep commitment to their communities.

The SFPL strategic planning process prioritizes including the voices of many and is iterative in nature. Each activity builds upon previous activities to create ideas and deepen an understanding of the core values that will inform the SFPL Strategic Plan. Through this process, the team will generate a variety of integrated deliverables including data analytics to provide clear evidence of current needs and future demands, library facility analysis to understand current use and future opportunities and community asset maps to illustrate gaps and strengths of San Francisco’s current social impact eco-system.

Project Timeline

Strategic work will be conducted in six phases over 12 months. The final strategic document will be delivered in January 2024. The phases of the project include:

  • Phase I: Launch (January - February): Planning, Current State Research & Analysis
  • Phase II: Discover (March - June): Information Gathering, Research & Analysis, and Community Outreach
  • Phase III: Sensemaking (June - August): Identify Strategic Alignments
  • Phase IV: Iterate (August - September): Envision Future Community & Employee Experiences
  • Phase V: Refine (October - November): Create Strategic Roadmap & Toolkits
  • Phase VI: Document (January 2024): Strategic Roadmap Feedback & Documentation

Throughout the project, Gensler will be leading the project management and working with all project partners to deliver a series of deliverables that include:

  • Internal and External Engagement Plan
  • Internal Insights Report
  • External Insights Report
  • Draft Strategic Plan
  • Final Strategic Plan


Project timeline showing the phases and deliverables explained above and engagement activities explained in the next section.

Engagement Activities

Throughout Spring 2023, the consultant team and SFPL leadership team have conducted a series of internal staff engagement workshops and external community focus groups along with surveying methodologies. These engagement activities will continue throughout the summer. A detailed breakdown of all activities can be found below:

Internal Staff Engagement: Workshops, meetings, and surveys with various SFPL departments and groups.

  • Staff Values Survey (1)
  • Management Team (M-Team) Workshops (4)
  • “Staff Ambassadors” Workshops (5)
  • Library Commissioner Interviews (7)
  • CCSF Dept. Head / Partner / Stakeholder Interviews (13)
  • Senior Managers Workshop (1)
  • Organized Labor Meeting (1)
  • Special Operations Workshops (2)
  • Branch Managers Workshop (1)
  • Main / CTS / CPP Managers Workshop (1)
  • Youth Services Workshop (1)
  • All Staff Meetings/Workshops (2)
  • Adult Services Workshop (1)
  • Circulation Services Workshop (1)
  • Branch Site Visits and Branch Manager Interviews (9)

Night of Ideas Event Workshops:

Over 500 community members participate in 15 different hands-on workshops and activities to generate ideas about the future of SFPL. We created opportunities for inspiration, conversation, and reflection on the future of San Francisco. Some of the key takeaways from the evening were:

  • The process is the product
  • Community co-creation at its finest
  • People are yearning for ways to create together
  • All forms of expression and storytelling were celebrated
  • We enjoy seeing ourselves reflected and heard
  • San Franciscans are ready for the library to lead REAL systemic change
  • Creating the future together generates hope, optimism, and joy
Members from the community, artists, and performers engaging in the activities during SFPL’s Night of Ideas


The activities at the Night of Ideas event included:

  • Creative Name Tags
  • Thought Starter Beauty Boards
  • Future Narratives
  • “I’m Seeking” Statements
  • Party Placemaking Toolkit
  • Storytelling Toolkit
  • Future Library
  • Future City
  • Future Library Visioning
  • Future City Visioning
  • Future Library Spaces
  • Future Madlib
  • City Asset Mapping
  • Core Tensions
  • All People Statement



Community Engagement Focus Groups: Nineteen (19) community focus groups focused on capturing both geographic reach of all City supervisorial districts and equitably focused on priority populations. These focus groups are done in partnership with the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Chinatown Community Development Center and the Youth Arts Exchange.

  • 05/31/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Teens
  • 06/20/23 - District 10 #1 Focus Group (Black/African American community focus)
  • 06/21/23 - District 11 Focus Group (Latinx, Black/African American, AAPI focus)
  • 06/22/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Disability Community
  • 06/28/23 - Friends of the Library Focus Group (1 of 2)
  • 06/28/23 - Friends of the Library Focus Group (2 of 2)
  • 06/29/23 - District 4 and 7 Focus Group (Parkside)
  • 06/30/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Chinese Language Speaking
  • 07/05/23 - District 3 and 6 Focus Group
  • 07/11/23 - District 10 #2 Focus Group (Black/African American community focus)
  • 07/12/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Parents
  • 07/13/23 - District 5 and 7 (West of Twin Peaks) and 8 Focus Group (LGBTQIA+ focus)
  • 07/18/23 - District 1 and 2 Focus Group
  • 07/19/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Filipino Language Speaking
  • 07/20/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Spanish Language Speaking
  • 07/25/23 - Priority Population Focus Group: Elders
  • 07/26/23 - CBO Focus Groups (1 of 2)
  • 07/26/23 - CBO Focus Groups (2 of 2)

Branch User Intercept Surveys: On-site intercept surveys to capture input from library users.

  • 1,900+ branch user intercept surveys completed across all 27 branches.