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The new MSB Library Strategic Plan (Was this worth the cost?)

The MSB owns and manages five public libraries:  Sutton, Big Lake, Willow, Talkeetna, and Trapper Creek.

However, the busiest public libraries in the Mat-Su Valley – the Palmer library and the Wasilla library – are owned and operated by the cities of Palmer and Wasilla.

Note:  The Mat-Su Valley has school libraries too.  The Mat-Su Borough School District (MSBSD) manages all of the libraries at our public elementary, middle, and high schools and the University of Alaska runs the library at the Mat-Su College.

Here is the new Talkeetna Public Library, which was completed in 2016:

talkeetna public library

Library funding has been a contentious issue for decades.  Here is a report (circa 2013) written by Wasilla Library Director Kathy Martin-Albright explaining the problems.


The Mat-Su Library Network’s most recent Strategic Plan plus other, older Mat-Su library strategic plans were attached to the MSB Library Board meeting packet from August, 2016.  See pages 20 – 32 for the 2014 plan.


FYI:  The MSB recently withdrew from the Mat-Su Library Network.

In August, 2017, the MSB issued an RFP soliciting bids from consultants to prepare a NEW “Public Library Strategic Plan.”  The estimated “value” of the contract was 30K. The strategic plan needed to include “a vision statement, a mission statement, goals, measurable objectives, and proposed activities to meet expressed community needs for library services over the next five years.”

18-014PP MSB

Note: I am unable to obtain more documents about this RFP (and find out exactly how much the winning bid was) without doing a public records request because, even though the bid is only 6 months old, the MSB deletes all old RFPs and related documents from its website!

The winning bidder was Library Systems & Services based in Rockville, Maryland.

Here is this consulting company’s completed Plan, which was attached to the most recent Library Board meeting packet:


While it is a nice report, it is fairly brief (23 pages) and really not much different from the most recent (2014) strategic library plan.

Was it really necessary to pay a consulting firm thousands and thousands of dollars to update the library plan?  Why couldn’t the MSB staff have prepared this? Or the library board? Is this report really going to make any substantial difference to how the MSB libraries are run and managed?


  1. Todd Todd February 24, 2018

    Do you have an email address? I can email you the RFP & Intent to Award.

  2. M.J. Benefield M.J. Benefield March 22, 2018

    Were demographics and statistics for the 2 city libraries included in the information relayed to Library Systems & Services? It certainly doesn’t look like it. Their recommendations would be completely skewed if this information wasn’t taken into account, which means all our hard earned money went down the toilet. As it is, all the recommendations in the study have always been something libraries strive for. This document is nothing more than academic drivel.

    While the MSLN was “officially” dissolved, policies and procedures haven’t appeared to change at all. Was the dissolution retaliation for the 2 cities deciding not to pay for MSB IT services when they already have city IT services? Perhaps it was yet another calculated move to continue refusing to apply proportionate tax funds to the 2 city libraries. The majority of Wasilla and Palmer Library patrons don’t live inside city limits, but still pay non area wide taxes to the Borough for library services. Essentially, the Borough is taking their money and spending it on a relative handful of library patrons. I think the cities need to stop pandering to the Borough for their meager 40K “grant” and send the MSB a bill for services rendered instead.

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