Library of Congress Tees Up Strategic Changes

Inspector general says institution has not followed through on previous plans

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said the institution would do a better job planning and executing as a knowledge base. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Library of Congress is looking into the future and is on track to release a five-year strategic plan in October. The agency, which has struggled with management and planning in the past, updated lawmakers on their progress on Wednesday.

The library will embark on a mission to focus on its users and providing improved services for the 1.8 million people who visit the library in person and more than 300 million digital users each year.

The mission of the library is “to engage, inspire, and inform Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told the House Administration Committee.

The library has faced significant challenges bringing storage and technology into the modern era and planning for major projects.

Inspector General Kurt W. Hyde said that there has been “no or little execution” of previous plans, especially when crafted by interim leaders of the library. He pointed to “so-called strategic plans” that had “insufficient outcome-oriented goals.” But he told lawmakers that he has confidence that those patterns will be changing with Hayden at the helm and robust top-down leadership.

Hayden pointed to the development of an implementation plan, which the agency will use to set and track progress towards the goals laid out in the strategic plan. She did not go into specifics about what the plan will contain beyond improvement of services.

“Ultimately, the library will develop a culture that views planning as a never-ending, iterative process, where operations and services are reviewed and analyzed continuously, so that we may regularly improve our efficiency and our value to users,” Hayden said.

Learning more about the library’s users will be key to improving how the agency meets their needs. Hyde told the panel that the library will be embarking on a new effort to collect good user information, which will drive changes to delivery of the library’s services.

“That’s going to be new for them and they are going to need some resources there,” said Hyde, “Also they are going to need resources in executing on their strategic plan.”

Congress funded the library at $669.9 million, with $119.3 million of that allocated for the Congressional Research Service for the current fiscal year.

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