July 15th Staff Focus Group–South County Regional Library

Staff Focus Group Discussions for PLCMC’s Strategic Plan – July 2008
Staff Session #1

South County Regional Library

July 15, 2008

1. Exceptional and cherished library experiences shared with the group.

-An elderly woman, house bound and vision impaired called to request a favorite poem in larger print. She later wrote a letter to staff stating how much she appreciated being able to once again read the poem she used to read to her children many years before.

-A ladies book club was looking for romance novels outside of the norm. Staff asked for recommendations from another patron who is a UNCC professor of literature and was given a list of Native American and Indian romance authors. A title was chosen and the professor was invited as a guest speaker. Staff noted that relationships were formed and connections made within the group as a result. Staff was pleased to be able to find a community source that could bring something special to the book club.

-A patron who had minimal computer skills came in daily to ask staff for help with Word asking very elementary questions. A year or two later she visited with staff and told them that she had started her own cosmetics business using the computer skills she learned at the library and thanked the staff for their time and assistance.

-A current PLCMC manager remembers a time when he was eight years old and heard that anyone could call the local library with ANY question and get an answer. When he called and asked the research librarian how to make peanut butter and jelly she took him very seriously, addressed his questions and called him back in fifteen minutes with the needed information. Being treated not as a child but equally to any other caller left a strong impression on him.

-A branch recently held a “Community Day” and wanted to offer a program to their senior patrons. They partnered with the local chapter of AARP to facilitate a program focused on issues important to today’s seniors. These older patrons have thanked the staff repeatedly and were appreciative for time set aside for their age group.

-Staff shared an experience when he visited the Denver public library and spoke with their staff about their procedures for internet use. The relaxed atmosphere regarding computer use made his visit more enjoyable. He felt that the patrons’ needs were made a priority with fewer rules to enforce.

-Many staff noted that friends and patrons moving to our area often state that PLCMC offers more and better services than their former libraries including better hours of operation, better resources, and longer check out period, free programming and receiving CIO online or through the mail.

-Several in the group related experiences at other libraries while visiting family or friends in other states. California library staff was impressed when shown a copy of CIO and said they wished their library had something similar. Students in one MLS program in California study PLCMC in the classroom. Children’s librarians in a Connecticut library said they view PLCMC’s website regularly for ideas they can use.

-Several staff spoke of small town libraries with strong volunteer and community involvement. An example was given of a library that offered a free book signing with a nationally known author.

-The importance of providing internet assistance as a community service was discussed. People who are not regular library users often come to the library only because they need help with an online application, to open an email account or for help with a job search. If we provide them with friendly, helpful service they may return to use our other services.

2. Community Changes/Trends

-People are relying more on public transportation

-Staff spending more time with new users who are struggling with today’s technology.

-Non-English speaking population growing rapidly.

-Spanish speaking community also growing. Will possibly make up for one third of all NC high school students by 2015. Many job hunters and retirees returning to the library.

-Refugees and new citizens applying for library cards and seeking help and resources from the community. Increase in building of apartments and group transit housing. People want to be close to transportation and close to work.

-Increase in petty crime, theft

-Gas prices are escalating. Some people may not be able to afford transportation to and from work.

-May see an impact of CMS budget cuts that will inspire natural partnerships for the library and school system.

-Greater need for tutors, exam proctoring. May need to adjust internet rules for students taking on line exams. One hour limit not sufficient.

-Increase in Home Schooling community in Charlotte.

-Some libraries seeing increase in children coming to library with nannies or “stay at home” dads or grandparents.

-Increase in unemployment brings people to the library for resume help. People competing for jobs need library to help them develop necessary skills and keep them fresh.

-Library is a referral agency to families who need job hunting alternatives or researching nursing homes for aging parents. Some may be cutting out internet at home and will rely on the library. One hour may no longer be sufficient time on computer.

-Cultural make up within our community has changed. Seeing more Asian, Spanish, Indian, Russian and German population. Difficulty in helping these patrons due to communication barrier.

-State of the economy and gas prices may be keeping people home. Library is busier this summer and on Sundays.

-May see more need for virtual help links through the library

3. Scenario A – High tech libraries

-What is likely or desired in this library?

-A technology center with some library services

-Technology savvy staff giving one on one assistance

-Staff is very comfortable with the technology so they can make the customers feel more comfortable with it.

-Technology for all ages

-Looks more like a computer lab or Apple store with lots of plasma screens advertising library programs and services

-Space is designed around maximizing the number and configuration of computers and laptops

-Social networking and gaming for students

-Laptop users have wireless available

-Computers will be used by job seekers, seniors, teens and adults

-This type of library will appeal to customers who don’t use the library as much and who think of the library as old fashioned or who stopped coming due to a bad experience.

-Self service is desirable to some people.

-Customers want computer access

 What is not likely or desired in this library?

-Not everyone is comfortable with technology.

-Google doesn’t find everything

-Not enough staff to give one on one service with technology

-No children’s services or programs

-Not a quiet space/lots of activity and discussion going on

-No reader’s advisory or best sellers

-Students are also looking for books for homework help

-Many people looking for materials and physical items they can hold in their hands

-Sometimes customers want to be helped instead using self service

-Human interaction is necessary

-Many people want quiet space. Need a balance.


-More study carrels needed/enclosed quiet space and community meeting space

-More bandwidth

-Enough computers so there is no waiting

-Would need to shift public’s expectations regarding what a library is. (Tech center with some library services instead of a library with some computer services)

-Need for qualified staff on the cutting edge of technology

-More computers mean increased heat in building.

-Need for sufficient parking

-Need for special non glare windows (so computer screens can be viewed easily)

-Expense of keeping computers upgraded

-Partnership opportunities with community colleges and other groups

-More volunteer opportunities

-Where would staff gain the expertise, training would be on going

-People want what they want NOW

-Building would need to be flexible to add and change with technology

-Need for lots of outlets for computers and laptops, et

-What types of access issues would we deal with regarding library cards?

-How would we pay for this type of library initially and for constant upgrading to the system and hardware   with new technology and for online resources that are not always free?

Scenario B – Book centered libraries

What is likely or desired in this library?

-Plenty of best sellers and other books for everyone

-Staff very knowledgeable about books and enjoys discussing books with customers

-Quiet library that encourages reading


-Traditional and old fashioned

-Staff is knowledgeable about books

-Print resources are in good supply for students when schools are closed. Able to find titles from reading lists.

What is not likely or desired in this library?

-Lacking in technology for public

-Not meeting everyone’s needs

-No training opportunities for public

-Limited resources for students or gaming

-Limited job search resources

-No resources for non-readers

-Fewer volunteer opportunities

-Limited staffing opportunities

-No technology or non print resource


-Buildings/facilities would have more room for books/programming/ comfortable seating without the computers.

-No non-print collections

-No need for renovations to make room for technology

-Larger budget for books

-No computer programming

-Limited staffing opportunities

-Fewer opportunities for volunteers

-Technology non existent

-No need for internet policies if all books

-Fewer opportunities for staff training/fewer staff needed

-Limited policies to enforce


One Response to “July 15th Staff Focus Group–South County Regional Library”

  1. maxpiut Says:

    Hi guys,

    just want to introduce myself on plcmcforum.wordpress.com, hope this is the right category for that purpose.


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