Despite a Year of Ups and Downs Ames Public Library Strategic Plan on Course

Despite a Year of Ups and Downs Ames Public Library Strategic Plan on Course

by Sheila Schofer  

It was about this time last year—after gathering data, surveying our staff and public, and holding several community engagements sessions—that the Ames Public Library unveiled its new Strategic Plan.  Now one year in, I thought it would be great to take stock of what we have done to move our goals forward, despite a tumultuous last 12 months.  When we created our plan we did so with broad staff and community involvement, and our goal for implementation of the plan has been the same. We have employees from across departments working collaboratively on teams to help with key initiatives.  This hands-on approach has helped staff to stay connected to the “why” of the work we do.  It makes my Director’s heart so proud when I hear staff regularly mentioning the Strategic Plan as we evaluate services and develop programs.

 It takes all of our staff, volunteers, board trustees, city colleagues and community partners to make this important work happen, and I am so grateful for all the hard work we have done together.

On to the highlights!

Equity- Create an intentional plan to address barriers in library systems and actively work to create equitable service and access.

  • Library goes fine-free
  • Translation devices at all service desks and bookmobile
  • Inclusive programs and partnerships with organizations serving community members with disabilities like Mainstream Living and Friendship Ark

Inclusion- Create a welcoming and comfortable place for all community members.  Develop best practices for collaborative partnerships in order to amplify a diversity of ideas, cultures and experiences and foster community understanding.

  • Inclusive programming like the More than Monoliths conversations with Black artists, Ames Pridefest activities, Homeschool Book Club and more.
  • Working on collection diversity audit review to ensure a collection that reflects our entire community
  • Expanded world language collections in multiple formats

Civic Engagement- Provide opportunities for community members to connect with accurate information, be involved in their community and better understand and be prepared to participate in the institutions of representative democracy.

  • Civic Center webpage with resources, engagement opportunities, and voting information
  • Voter Registration, Election Day Voting and Satellite Absentee voting on Saturday, October 30 from 10am-4pm in the Library Auditorium
  • Host site for multiple candidate forums.  These have been live-streamed through our partners and well attended in person with standing room only and overflow viewing rooms

Access- Connect Community members to needed information and resources.

  • Partnership with Ames Community Schools to register all pre-K through high school students for library cards
  • Addition of online learning tools like Bookflix, Comics Plus, Cypress Resume Writer, Law Depot, The NY Times, and The Wall Street Journal
  • Personalized Picks customized booklists—curated by real library staff, not algorithms!


Wellness- Foster a thriving community through promotion of physical, mental and socio-emotional well-being.

  • Offered multiple free vaccine clinics in partnership with Mary Greeley and Story County Public Health with free transportation from CyRide
  • Partnered with City of Ames to host two well attended Mental Health First Aid trainings for the community
  • Mindful Teen wellness program series

Staff Development- ensure excellent customer service as our community needs evolve through proactive staff development and training.

  • Special in-service all staff development days of learning
  • Opportunities for staff to attend and present at professional conferences
  • Revamping onboarding activities for new employees with welcome videos, staff photos and more

These are just some of the highlights of how the Ames Public Library is moving ahead with its Strategic Plan that you helped to create.  I am so proud of our staff’s efforts and eager to move forward on even more initiatives that impact the lives of our community. 

You can read the plan online on our website at or, better yet, come by for a visit and see it in action!