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City council approves Austin Public Library strategic plan

The plan lays out strategic goals for the city's library system and recommends construction of new branch libraries, as well as expansion of existing branches.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Council voted Thursday to adopt a comprehensive strategic plan for future Austin Public Library (APL) facilities.

The plan lays out strategic goals for the city's library system and recommends construction of new branch libraries, as well as expansion of more than half of the system's existing branches. The intention behind the plan is to keep up with Austin's booming population growth.

"On behalf of everyone at the Austin Public Library, I am excited that the Council has adopted this vision for the future of our community’s libraries," APL Director Roosevelt Weeks said in a statement. "This plan lays out a path for APL to continue to empower everyone in our community to discover, learn, and create for years to come."

According to a press release from the City, Austin's rapid population growth has caused the city to "lag behind peer cities in 'library square foot per capita,'" a metric used to calculate a library system's capacity to serve the community. The release stated that further population growth without the construction of new facilities will continue to drive that metric down. 

The release also stated that population growth on Austin's edges is already not well served by APL's existing branch network.  

The facilities plan approved by the council on Thursday proposes four "net new" large library branches, as well as suggested projects to expand, replace and/or relocate many existing branches.

"Five and a half years ago, Austin opened a new world-class Central Library in downtown, and that building remains the crown jewel of the city," Weeks said. "However, our neighborhoods deserve world-class library facilities too. The plan adopted by the City Council today lays out a vision for growing and updating our entire library system to meet the needs of the rapidly changing, dynamic city we serve."

In addition to facility plans, the Strategic and Facilities Plan also lays out five new strategic goals for APL. Those goals are: 

  1. Provide community-centric programs and services
  2. Design and develop spaces for community connections
  3. Foster stakeholder relationships
  4. Expand library access
  5. Engage staff

Finally, the plan also includes new mission and vision statements for APL. The new vision statement is, "Austin Public Library: A model of equity, inclusion, access, and diversity," and the new mission statement is, “Inspiring all to discover, learn, and create.” 

The plan was developed over the course of more than a year, incorporating input from a community survey that received more than 5,400 responses, pop-up community events in 20 locations and a series of surveys, listening sessions and workshops with APL staff and community stakeholders.

See the full plan document.

Boomtown is KVUE's series covering the explosive growth in Central Texas. For more Boomtown stories, head to KVUE.com/Boomtown.

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