Needs - Strategic Planning for Diversity

Assessing Need—The Environmental Scan

Diversity planning can vary depending on location, population, resources and climate. It is helpful to review what similar institutions have developed, but it is also important to assess the internal climate of your organization and the external environment in which you exist. An environmental scan will help identify allies, gaps and resource availability.

An environmental scan may be intimidating, so before embarking on one, you may wish to consult examples of other organization’s environmental scan to take note of the items surveyed, the methods of collection and organization, and the final products.

There are several resources that can help you easily identify demographic data and estimates for your community. 

  • U.S. Census (link:  The U.S. Census can provide some of the most useful information for assessing the demographics of a given community. In addition to race and ethnicity, information on people with disabilities, age, gender, educational attainment, and marital status can be found in the various reports published by the Census. Data from the 2010 Census can be found on the website
  • U.S Department of Education Institution of Educational Sciences (link: The Department of Education’s Institution of Education Statistics (IES) collects and analyzes data related to education.  The IES provides the School District Demographic System (, which contains demographic information for K-12 students by state and school district.  IES also has several reports that examine postsecondary education (  
  • State Demographics, Population, or Data Centers:  Many states have state demographic, population, or data centers which provide detailed information for state populations, including at the city, county, or district level. 

In addition to gaining factual data to support the need for diversity within your organization, it is also useful to explore similar or supporting programs in your environment that might help with your work.  Within an academic setting, this might include offices for student support, ethnic or gender studies departments, or student organizations.  Within the public library setting, this may include Equal Opportunity Services, chamber of commerce units, or community-based organizations. 

Assessing the diversity of your organization’s internal environment is just as important as surveying the community in which your organization exists. An internal scan can include many things, but among the most obvious are a review of existing policies or statements (mission, vision, strategic plan) that address diversity; library staff demographics; library programs, activities, or collections that address diversity; and library stakeholder or partner demographics.

Review Other Plans

Certainly, the most expedient way to get started crafting the Diversity Plan after completing the environmental scan and settling on a definition of diversity for your environment is to review the plans of other institutions both within and outside the field.

It may be that no one plan meets all of your institutional needs, thus making it necessary to borrow various approaches from different, existing plans. Undoubtedly as important is making contact with relevant staff members at libraries and other institutions to inquire about both crafting and living with the plan. There are many Diversity Plans that look impressive on paper but fall flat during implementation.

Provided below are several diversity plans: