Strategic Plan


Throughout its history the Nantucket Atheneum has been deeply intertwined with its community and the island’s history. With its inception as a library in 1834, serving as the island’s only public library since 1900, and housed in a landmark 1847 building listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Atheneum has served as the cultural and educational hub for Nantucket for 185 years.

An on-going challenge of the Atheneum is that it is one of a small number of public libraries in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that is privately owned and operated as a 501(c) 3, rather than operated by a municipality. This non-profit status does allow the Atheneum substantial flexibility in its operations, services and programs. However, it presents challenges to financial security and puts significant pressure for continual fund raising. The Atheneum’s fiscal year is concurrent with that of the Town of Nantucket, running from July 1 to June 30. Currently the Nantucket Atheneum receives 29% of its budget resources from government funding with the remaining revenues dependent on the financial support of island year-round and summer residents.

Although Nantucket is located 30 miles off shore, the Atheneum serves a multi-faceted community. According to the 2010 U.S. Census our population increased 6.8% since the last census in 2000 with a year-round population of 10,172. A recent report by the Nantucket Data Platform in 2018 puts the year-round population as closer to 17,200. There continues to be a sizable recent immigrant population from the Caribbean, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia — many of whom come with limited English language skills and often from countries without a public library tradition. Baby Boomers and retirees are a growing segment needing services and programs focused on technology literacy and life-long learning experiences. Young working people and families with children face economic stresses including the working of two jobs, high cost of housing, and limited resources to pursue cultural and recreational interests or community interaction, making the public library with its free services and programs a vital part of their lives. Also the influx of summer residents and visitors, swelling the population to 55,000 adds demand for library services and programs.

In response to these community needs, Atheneum has become not only a transactional institution with its main function to check out materials and to offer reference services but also a transformational institution providing free educational and cultural programs and services for a diverse population, utilizing the latest technology and assuming an essential role in civic engagement through its free community meeting places.
The Nantucket Atheneum’s Mission and Core Values continue to underpin the library’s year-round programs and services in response to the community of Nantucket.


The Nantucket Atheneum, a private, non-profit organization, provides public library service to the island’s year-round and seasonal residents, housed in a historic 1847 building and in the Weezie Library for Children. The Atheneum collects, organizes and disseminates books, literature, and other materials in a variety of formats to help users of all ages meet their recreational, personal, professional and intellectual needs. In keeping with its heritage, the Atheneum also serves as a cultural center for the Nantucket community by sponsoring educational programming and maintaining special collections related to the history and culture of the island.


We believe people are important.
We strive for excellence.
We believe in the importance of offering free access
to diverse knowledge and culture.
We are community centered.
We are financially responsible.
We honor our history.

The development of the Nantucket Atheneum Strategic Plan 2019-21 began in 2018. The process included the gathering of information from the Board of Trustees Retreat held on August 20, 2018; Atheneum Staff Retreat held on September 24, 2018 and an on-line Community Survey issued in the fall of 2018 and answered by 435 participants. The Nantucket Atheneum Board of Trustees approved the plan on February 11, 2019.

Goals & Objectives

The following goals will anchor and guide the Nantucket Atheneum for the next three years. The goals are considered of equal importance and are not in priority order. Objectives provide direction on how to accomplish the goals. Success toward achieving these goals will be reviewed annually by the Atheneum Board of Trustees and the Executive Director.

Goal 1: To meet community needs with free access to top quality resources, services and programs.

A.   Assess community needs

1. Secure state, community and Atheneum data

a. Identify data and sources needed

1) Include underserved populations
2) Include new types of literacy needed for skills development and success in the 21st century

b. Determine if Data Platform Group could be helpful and cost effective for securing data
c. Collect and analyze data
d. Create comprehensive outline of current and future community needs

2. Utilize Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for determining and expanding the Atheneum’s value to and impact on the community

a. Research KPI for libraries and non-profits
b. Determine KPI for Atheneum
c. Develop methods for collecting KPI data
d. Implement KPI data collection
e. Analyze KPI data
f. Create comprehensive list of KPI for Atheneum

B. Assess current Atheneum services and programs

1. Create a comprehensive inventory of current services and programs
2. Compare current services and programs with above lists of community needs and KPI
3. Revamp current or develop new services and programs to align with KPI and revised community needs within Atheneum’s financial resources

C. Seek collaborative opportunities with other island organizations

D. Practice inclusion in resources, programs, services and staffing

E. Invest in more professional development training for Atheneum staff to strengthen their capacity to meet library and community needs

GOAL 2: To ensure the Nantucket Atheneum remains financially stable, resilient and sustainable.

A. Continue strong Board of Trustees with adherence to best practices of non-profit governance
B. Continue to achieve annual balanced budget
C. Maintain control of annual expenses
D. Assess future revenues including data from Long Range Financial Plan (2018)
E. Increase endowment
F. Expand the nascent Major Gift Program
G. Provide education for Board Trustees on their role in fundraising and institutional advocacy
H. Explore ways to help library staff secure stable housing

GOAL 3: To increase awareness and strengthen perception of the Nantucket Atheneum among key audiences and stakeholders.


A. Educate the year-round and summer community about the scope and cost of Atheneum’s resources, services and programs
B. Increase community understanding of the critical role of donations and philanthropy in the Atheneum’s finances
C. Increase library staff and Trustees participation in Nantucket Atheneum advocacy
D. Create and implement a comprehensive marketing plan

1. Utilize findings of community needs assessment and Key Performance Indicators
2. Create community ownership of the Atheneum
2. Examine need for rebranding
3. Determine need for additional staff hours for future marketing effort