Please download the library’s strategic plan here:


Our Mission

Forbes Library exists to provide a wide range of information and materials to all of the people of Northampton, and to encourage and support the civic, intellectual, and cultural pursuits of the community. Forbes Library encourages curiosity, free inquiry, and lifelong learning and provides a friendly physical environment as a community meeting place.

Our Vision

adapted from poem by Seth Gregory

a safe space
a community hub
a sanctuary for lifelong learning
we are here to welcome and meet your needs
believing that dignity is inherent
that knowledge is power
and that your library should be free

A strategic planning process gives the library an opportunity to listen deeply to the concerns, needs, and hopes of our community. We spoke to many different members of our community about the library. This helped us to identify areas in which the library is already strong as well as areas in which our services need to be expanded or improved. We draw on this plan to develop budgets, prioritize activities, and continue to plan for the future.

This plan provides a clear sense of purpose for the library staff, trustees, friends, and volunteers. Largely aspirational, we will work hard to achieve the goals set forth and provide annual updates to our community.

Goals & Objectives for 2025-2027


Center the wellbeing of our community through the library’s services and spaces.

  • We will continue to protect the intellectual freedom and privacy of our patrons.
    • Sample activity: Publicly support legislation that protects intellectual freedom and library employees
  • We will take action to provide new pathways to library access.
    • Sample activity: Increase the number of kindergarteners with public library cards in Northampton Public Schools
    • Sample activity: Actively collaborate with Northampton’s new Resilience Hub
  • We will take action to support the City of Northampton’s goal of carbon neutrality.
    • Sample activity: Advocate for improved links to existing and planned bike infrastructure in the city to the library
  • We will make improvements to our building for the safety and comfort of people using it.
    • Sample activity: Improve accessibility and ventilation of bathrooms


Empower our community by increasing awareness of local resources. By sharing information and building connections, we will drive growth and improve the quality of life in Northampton.

  • We will promote the library’s services to an ever widening audience.
    • Sample activity: Conduct targeted marketing campaign to Latinx members of our community
    • Sample activity: Seek grant funding to develop a communications strategic plan
  • We will improve wayfinding for increased access and discoverability.
    • Sample activity: Use bilingual (English/Spanish) signage wherever possible
  • We will be more visible in the community.
    • Sample activity: Increase cardholders living in Northampton Housing Authority properties
    • Sample activity: Explore hosting a community information fair


Improve our physical spaces and resources so that we may continue to be a source of fun, wonder, and inspiration for the community

  • We will complete capital projects that support creativity, learning, and entertainment.
    • Sample activity: Add an accessible performance stage to west lawn
    • Sample activity: Renovate the Young Adult Room
  • Our collection will support our community in new ways.
    • Sample activity: Expand our Library of Things collection with additional crafting and other recreational items, household items, and tools
  • We will foster a learning culture for staff and patrons.
    • Sample activity: Increase staff development funding
  • We will preserve and share our local history.
    • Sample activity: Continue to expand Local History Collections with emphasis on cultural and political movements of the last 50 years. Focus on LGBTQIA+, music, arts, political activism, and journalism.
    • Sample activity: Develop a plan for renovating exhibits in Coolidge Museum

Forbes Library’s Values

We offer an inclusive space that builds community and belonging.

We foster curiosity, creativity, fun, and lifelong learning.

We ensure that the library is accessible and free for all.

“I’m truly awed by the dedication of the Forbes Library staff, Trustees, Friends, and the advisory groups behind this beautiful and comprehensive FY2025-FY2027 Strategic Plan embracing a Forbes Library for all. I wholeheartedly support this well-crafted vision to enhance community well-being, boost awareness of our invaluable library and services, and inspire and welcome everyone in our community. Together, we can chart a course toward a stronger, healthier, and more vibrant community where knowledge freely circulates, support is readily available, and inspiration flourishes.”
– Gina-Louise Sciarra, Mayor of Northampton

The 2025-2027 Strategic Plan was unanimously accepted by the Forbes Library Board of Trustees on September 21, 2023.

Message from the Chair

We are pleased to share with you Forbes Library’s Strategic Plan for FY2025 through FY2027 which provides a framework for the library to meet the needs of our community and deliver higher levels of service. The plan was developed based on input from the Northampton residents who came to our community forums and the 1,100+ community members who responded to our survey. We also spoke to thirty local stakeholders about the challenges their organizations, and our city, will face in the coming years and ways in which the library can help. The library staff, the board of trustees, the Friends of Forbes Library, our Racial & Social Justice Advisory Group, and the Coolidge Museum Advisory Committee all participated in visioning exercises that helped identify the library’s strengths and create goals for the future.

We heard from our community that there is a need for the library to build and expand upon our partnerships with other organizations in the city. These connections and networks have become crucial in the wake of the pandemic where our community members are faced with challenges including social isolation, affordability, and the digital divide. We have set goals to help center the well-being of our community, create greater access to resources, support our city’s climate goals, improve our spaces to make them healthier and more accessible, and support our staff. We’ll also be enhancing the library by adding a stage on the lawn, building new teen space, and adding more fun and useful non-book items to the circulating collection. Our local history collection is a valuable asset to the community and we’ll continue to expand its collections. We want to particularly focus on preserving resources around local cultural and political movements of the last 50 years including LGBTQIA+, music, arts, political activism, and journalism. This year is the 100th anniversary of Calvin Coolidge becoming president and the Coolidge Museum will be hosting a series of programs marking key events in his presidency. A lot of the data we collected and the conversations we had made us realize that the library needs to toot its own horn more. So, we’ll be doing a lot more promotion to ensure our community knows what’s new and what’s already available for them at the library.

With the help of the Trustees and the Friends of Forbes, our committee employed the services of strategic brand consultant Seth Gregory who participated alongside us as we collected all of this data from our community. He helped us organize what we were hearing into the themes and goals that form the structure of this new Strategic Plan and ultimately informed the design of our new logo and tagline. The logo reflects the library’s role in serving our community. It is inspired by the shape of the sandstone arch over the front doors and also suggests the open pages of a book. To me, it also looks like pathways leading us to the future.

I want to thank my fellow committee members who were willing to put in countless hours working towards this plan. We began this process as we emerged from the pandemic and were often feeling stretched in many directions. I’m grateful to you all for carving out time and headspace for crunching data, organizing Zoom meetings, putting together presentations, sharing your expertise, thinking strategically about the big picture, and creatively considering all of the tiny details. I would particularly like to thank Lisa Downing and Molly Moss, the Director and Assistant Director of Forbes Library, for all of the time and expertise they put into making this plan and keeping our wonderful public library running smoothly.

I also want to thank our community. Throughout this whole process, we heard over and over about your love for Forbes Library. We’re lucky to have you!

Katy Wight

Vice President, Board of Trustees & Chair of Strategic Planning Committee