Library Consulting Services


Consensus Boosts Library Planning & Engagement

Libraries face unique issues regarding how they are structured and funded. Changes in society, including new technology and a push for wider units of service, require new responses from libraries, but public awareness often lags behind the reality. Consensus works with libraries that are serious about engaging their stakeholders and public, beyond holding a few focus groups. We also work with libraries that need to answer questions about how they should be governed, structured and funded.

Consensus team includes national thought leader, Tom Hennen. Tom Hennen consulted with Consensus during the writing of our report on libraries in metro Kansas City. Since then, he has worked with us on all of our library projects. Tom is principal in Hennen Library Consulting and has been a practicing librarian for almost 30 years. He is presently the director of Waukesha County Federated Library System in Wisconsin. Hennen is the author of Hennen’s American Public Library ratings (HAPLR), which uses data provided by 9,000 public libraries to create comparative rankings. Hennen has published more than 40 articles on a wide range of topics, including library futures, standards and accounting. His book for Neal-Schuman, Hennen’s Public Library Planner, has provided solid how-to advice for library leaders since its publication in 2004.

Here is a sampling of our work on library issues:

Making Book: Gambling on the future of our libraries. The geographic structure and funding systems for many metro Kansas City libraries were established when people visited their local libraries on foot or horseback. Today, geographical boundaries are increasingly meaningless, as the public expects more, different, and seamless quality service. How should metro Kansas City libraries best be structured, organized and funded to produce the best results in the future?
Making Book – complete report
Making Book – executive summary

Libraries Together in Scott County. Four libraries in the county that includes Davenport, Iowa, hired Consensus to study ways they could be structured, funded and governed. The study was prompted by a statewide and local push for increased government efficiency. Our study included extensive research, stakeholder interviews, two statistically valid surveys, and deliberative forums.

Libraries Together in Scott County Final Report
International Association for Public Participation article on Libraries Together
American Libraries article on Libraries Together

WCCLS Funding & Governance: A platform for future action.Where is the sweet spot when it comes to funding and governing libraries? What structure would balance the interests of the various players? Those aren’t easy questions to answer, especially when the players include 14 distinct libraries in just one county. Washington County (Oregon) Cooperative Library Services hired Consensus to work with it and its libraries to find a better way. The study included research, interviews, development of alternatives, deliberative forums, and  retreat to develop an action plan.
WCCLS Funding & Governance Final Report