Merrill Memorial Library has put out a request for proposals for a consultant to craft a five-year strategic plan for the library. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

The Yarmouth public library wants to come up with a community-centric five-year plan to improve its sustainability practices.

“Going forward, more specific to the strategic plan, we’ll talk about the environmental impact of what the library does and identifying the ways that we can improve that impact and create more awareness for patrons,” said Joan Dollarhite, president of Merrill Memorial Library’s   board of trustees.

Once public outreach begins, other goals may come to light, Dollarhite said.

The board, which began discussing an update to its strategic plan last fall, intends to hire a consultant to work with a committee of residents and has set a June 24 deadline for consultants to respond to its recent request for proposals.

As of May 19, the board has received one proposal but has been contacted “by several other interested consultants and expect to receive their proposals before our June deadline,” Dollarhite said.

The board is looking for a consultant who has experience working with nonprofits and creating strategic plans – even better if they’ve worked with libraries, she said.


Public outreach likely will start this fall. It’s too early to know how community input will be gathered, but when the library’s 2017 five-year strategic plan was created, the process included focus groups, forums, interviews with community leaders, surveys and interviews with library directors across Maine.

Goals and objectives from the library’s five-year plan in 2017 included increasing the downloadable collection by 25%, fostering a stronger relationship with the community and supporting professional development opportunities for library staff.

During the pandemic, the library succeeded in expanding its digital collection and also began offering more foreign language books in an effort to welcome the refugees and asylum-seekers arriving in Yarmouth and surrounding communities.

The new strategic plan will also likely consider the library’s facilities, long-range planning and financing, according to Town Manager Nat Tupper.

“The public needs and interests of library patrons change significantly over time, and the trustees are very intentional about anticipating those changes and making changes to the staffing, budget, space, program and policy allocations to best meet the needs of the residents,” Tupper said.

The cost for the consultant and creating the plan is estimated to be between $12,000 and $15,000 and will be paid for through the trustees’ funds, not taxpayer dollars.

Dollarhite said residents should keep an eye on the library’s Facebook page for updates on how they can be involved. More information can be found at

“The library is driven by what the community wants,” Dollarhite said. “The strategic plan will be grounded in the mission of the library, but will be directed based on that community input we get.”

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