July 22nd Staff Focus Group–West Boulevard Library

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

Staff Session #5

West Boulevard Branch Library

July 22, 2008

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

· During a visit to Columbus, Ohio last summer one of our staff needed internet access to print his return plane ticket home and went to a busy branch of the public library for computer access. He received friendly service and was given quick access free of charge.

· A recent visit to the Cerritos Library in southern California was a special treat to another staff member who said that just walking through the library was an experience and pleasing to all the senses. The library was designed with the 21st century in mind and through the use of exhibits and art work offers a different experience to patrons as they walk from one area to another.

· The Lake Lure Library staff was very friendly and helpful when our visiting staff needed computer access and was quickly logged on without the need of a library card. When she needed use of the copier the librarian admitted that it was new and she had not used it but said they could figure it out together and then hugged her before she left! She also recalled visiting a library in Florida that kept extra reading glasses at the desk for patrons to use.

· While sharing a story during an outreach program for Seniors at a local Y, our staff recognized one of the participants as the woman who had originally taught her the story years before. She was pleased to be able to give back an outreach experience she had been given and cherished.

· The public library in Auburn, Alabama offered a pleasing experience for one staff member who was visiting her son at the university. She was impressed by the cleanliness and the quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Lots of windows with a beautiful view made it enjoyable to sit and read. A new teen space was being built to cut down on afternoon noise. She also appreciated being able to use the computer without a library card.

· A staff member was pleasantly surprised while visiting the NY Public Library when she was given an impromptu tour by very friendly staff. She did not expect this in a busy big city library.

· One of the staff remembers visiting the library when growing up in Columbia, SC and always being greeted at the door by friendly staff offering assistance. Everyone received great customer service from the time they entered the building whether it was the main library or a branch. She also remembers a mural of “Where the Wild Things Are” in the children’s department at the main library.

· Driving with her family to neighboring counties to visit the library was a special treat for one of our staff who did not have a library nearby when she was a child. She particularly enjoyed visiting the bookmobile in Bolton, NC and also remembers driving as far as Wytheville to use the library there.

· Another staff member had a twenty minute walk to the library but enjoyed the freedom to go by herself as a child. Although she recalled that the children’s librarian was unpleasant and “not a children’s person” the summer reading program kept her going back. She would read a book and write a summary and it would be posted on the bulletin board. There were no prize incentives but it was a big deal to have her paper posted for everyone to see.

2. Community Changes/Trends

· Exploding population

· State of the economy is bringing more people to the library to use free services, do resumes, job searches and online applications and to find housing

· Baby boomers are retiring and other retirees are moving into the area

· More patron registrations

· Multicultural growth

· More people are taking advantage of Spanish conversation classes

· Summer camps and other child care groups are taking advantage of library programs for kids

· Increase in latch key kids coming to the library

· Seeing more mentoring with one on one interaction

· Seeing more people with special needs and mental health clients

· Finding that the needs of our customers are broader and constantly changing

· We are serving a transient population where people are here a short time and gone

· There is a greater need for meeting room space

· The library is providing non traditional services by offering spaces for early voting and serving as pick up locations for recycle bins

· Other agencies in the community are advertising or promoting visits to the library for services that they no longer provide

· Increase in home schooling

· More teens are coming to the library

Roles for the library in meeting these changing needs

· We should be more approachable to small businesses and develop a stronger presence in the business community.

· We are seeing more foot traffic in the library on weekends due to economy and rise in population.

· We see opportunity for more daytime programming and book clubs, resume writing and job searching workshops.

· There is an opportunity for developing an advisory board for senior citizens and more health related programs including yoga classes.

· There is opportunity for more multigenerational programs and cultural awareness programs.

· We should devote more of our resources to collections and dvds and find other sources of revenue in the absence of county funding.

· We should provide more movie programs and film series and provide refreshments.

· We should participate in more regional events.

· We should continue to evolve to meet community needs.

· We should work with community partners to find out directly how we can meet their needs and tailor our services accordingly.

· There is an opportunity to participate in art crawls.

· We should continue to be a destination place for daycare groups.

· The public no longer sees us as a traditional library and it expects more services from us – exam proctoring, fax and notary services, etc

· The library is a starting point for many people. The library is the first place they come when they move to the community.

· We should develop a partnership with CMS to see how we can help raise test scores and lower the drop out rate of students, particularly in the schools with greatest need.

· We need to work with and embrace teens in all library locations to identify their needs and be more nurturing in our interactions with them.

· The public sees the library as a community information center. We should develop a 311 type information service in order to provide the public with community resource information more efficiently.

3. Scenario A – High tech libraries

What is likely or desired in this library?

· Library is already teaming with technology

· Describes PLCMC for most part

· Noise level has increased

· We have students congregating in groups

· Accurate description of what students do in our library

What is not likely or desired in this library?

· No downloading of music, movies

· Books on hand are not always hottest best sellers

· People forced to place holds

· This type of library could be intimidating for many and would only appeal to a certain segment of the population that is technology savvy.

· Unrealistic for a library to look so high tech, like a computer lab

· Amount of patron self sufficiency is unrealistic

· Not a place for families and children

· No programming beyond technology classes

· No depth to collection, popular library focus and no classics

· Community would not be engaged; not a warm destination place

· No volunteers

Impacts

· Feels cold, sterile

· More IT staff trained to deal with equipment

· Would need more time constraints on computer usage

· Buildings would need to be redesigned or renovated

· Would cost more money to keep up with equipment upgrades

· More special training for staff

· Security impact due to expensive equipment

· Better infrastructure to support internet access

· Books are our brand and this model strays too far from that

· Literacy is not stressed and we would not be meeting other needs of the community

· Librarians would be stressed dealing with all the equipment

4. Scenario B – Book centered libraries

What is likely or desired in this library?

· Layout is generally focused on books and is a show case for the print collection.

· Library staff are avid readers and still believe in “the power of the book.”

· We are getting better at providing more comfortable seating for our readers.

· We do provide a broad selection of books.

· We are working to merchandise print collection.

· We like to provide good readers advisory because we are readers ourselves.

· We offer variety of book clubs across the system.

· We have recognizable children’s areas.

· We offer a wide range of children’s programs.

· Our children’s staff give special treatment to kids.

What is not likely or desired in this library?

· No computers or technology

· Our collection is not quite as broad

· Our libraries are not as quiet

· Not as many of our patrons are readers

· Not as encouraging of reading on the spot

· Books are not our main research resource

· We do not put as much emphasis on print materials

· We do not have as much staff or space

· We are not the community’s first place to go

Impacts

· No need for computer labs, meeting room space, etc

· Need more $ for collections

· More space to store books

· More money for increased staff

· Would have huge turnout for programs

· No need for outreach

· No need for partnerships

· No need for our current policies regarding behavior and code of conduct if people are serious about reading

· Would need to look at our check out policies. Might need to limit number of books or have shorter checkout period with the increased demand for books.

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