July 30th Staff Focus Group-Mint Hill Library

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

Staff Session #8
Mint Hill
July 30, 2008

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

• A staff member recalled how the librarian at her local branch always remembered her name, and how the staff there always treated her as someone important.

• A staff member recalled walking in to her local library in Syracuse, NY, and having a librarian there remember what books she liked to read and recommend new titles to her.

• A staff member recalled a children’s librarian in Medina, Ohio who remembered her name and what sorts of books she liked to read, and made time to show her around the building.

• A staff member recalled a local library that was truly tailored to meet the needs of its community. There were sidewalks, so it was safe for her to walk there with her children, and there were always plenty of children’s programs throughout the day and in the evening for working parents.

• As a teenager, one staff member recalls receiving help from a reference librarian in locating magazine articles for research. She noted that this had a big impact on her homework assignments throughout her time in school.

• A staff member recalled waiting for the local book mobile in Bryan, Texas. For him, and for other children in the area, seeing the book mobile coming was as exciting as seeing the ice cream truck.

• One staff member loved the look of her local library in Greenville, South Carolina, especially the children’s area. She recalled the large Mother Goose, and a child-friendly map that she loved playing with.

• A staff member recalled volunteering at her local branch and how it made her feel like she was in on what goes on behind the scenes at the library.

• When a staff member was visiting a library in Chapel Hill, she and a family member checked out a particularly good Halloween picture book. A year later, they wanted to take it out again, but could not remember the author or title and were unable to locate it. The librarian on duty looked all around with them, and even let them search through the branch storage closet to try to find it. Even though they were ultimately unable to find the book, she was impressed at the lengths the librarian went to for them.

• A staff member loved the way it looked in her local library’s children’s corner. It was a small section of the building, but it was a place set aside just for the kids to play.

• One staff member recalled their children asking to go to the library every weekend, as well as asking, “is that a library?” every time they drove past a building with books in the windows.


2. Community Changes/Trends

• The housing crisis is leading to more foreclosed homes

• Unemployment is rising

• There is an increase in multi-family/rental housing

• More people are moving to NC in general and Mecklenburg county in particular from states like New York, New Jersey, Ohio, etc.

• More immigrants are moving to NC from all over the globe

• There is an increase in tutoring, home schooling, and distance learning

• The light rail is changing the way people move around the city

• More people are coming to Mecklenburg county from other counties for jobs, schools, shopping, etc.

• There is a higher demand for better technology

• There is a higher demand for children’s programs

• There is more demand for study rooms and large meeting rooms

• CMS is laying off many of its media specialists

• There is more demand for educational material

• The school age population is increasing

• Increased use of library facilities by patrons with special needs

• Charlotte is constantly expanding and growing – more rural areas are turning into urban sprawl

• More elderly library users are coming into branches

• Higher price of gas is causing patrons to make fewer trips to libraries, resulting in people checking out more books at a time and placing more items on hold

• More patrons are spending the whole day at the library, some who are unemployed, some who are homeless, and some who are simply not going on a vacation this year and are taking advantage of library programs and computers to keep their children entertained

• More demand for computer time, patrons more aggressive over computer use


Ways for PLCMC to Meet These Changes

• Need to share more resources with our county and with neighboring counties, such as Union and Gaston

• Libraries need more space, especially space for meeting rooms

• Need more public computers

• Need more programming; libraries should make use of outside assistance/volunteers more in developing programs

• Need to provide more local materials and services for special needs patrons, such as braille books, librarians who know sign language, and better facilities for mentally, physically and/or behaviorally challenged patrons

• Library should provide more community-relevant information, such as work permits for teenagers, referrals to apartment agencies, lists of locations with notaries, etc.

• Need well-lit, safe and accessible entries for all libraries, with good signage to help patrons find us

• Need to keep up with changing technologies

• Need more educational materials

• Patrons need to be better informed about the variety of materials PLCMC owns – many have never heard of the North Carolina room or Virtual Village

• Need more staff

• Need more materials, in a greater variety, and we need to keep our collection better updated

• Need more technology classes

• Need more sidewalks around libraries, better partnership with public transportation, especially for branches that don’t have free parking


Scenario A – High Tech Libraries

What is likely or desired in this library?

• Library already moving towards more computer classes
• Technology available would be very streamlined
• Teen friendly
• Would have more research computers
• Opportunities for teen volunteers to help with computers, teach classes

What is not likely or desired in this library?

• More like a computer café than a library
• Not geared towards families, especially those with younger children
• No set policies in this scenario


• More research computers
• More computers being used for social activities, such as dating, meet-ups, forums and gaming – would need stricter policies
• Would not have many families with young children use this facility
• Would need a lot of money to keep everything up to date
• Would need to hire a completely different type of staff – look more for a technology degree than an MLS
• Collection would consist entirely of CDs, DVDs and programming/computer related books
• Would need a large building with no wall dividing sections, just lots of tables, computers and chairs
• Possibly small rooms for gaming
• Would need a large space for holds, for patrons who still want books


Scenario A – Book CenteredLibraries

What is likely or desired in this library?

• Readers advisory
• Extra care with children
• A big plus for literacy
• Parents/caregivers love story times
• Coffee in libraries
• Book Clubs
• It’s a classic, stereotypical library

What is not likely or desired in this library?

• Too limited in scope
• Libraries are not quiet
• Patrons don’t always receive excellent customer service
• Not enough staff to do all of the extra services listed
• Our branches don’t focus only on books (More equal distribution of materials)
• Story is based on an assumption of what people want rather than what the community needs
• Missing the bigger picture
• Not enough diverse ideas
• The library plays more roles than just a large building full of books
• Ignores non-readers
• Library is also a social place


• Would need a large building to house collection, meeting rooms, etc.
• Would need more comfortable seating
• Would need less security
• All furniture and carpeting would need to be replaced regularly, especially with everyone drinking coffee
• Would need more display shelving
• Size would have to continually increase to accommodate collection growth
• Collection would have to be kept up to date, with multiple copies of every book
• Would require lots of funds set aside just for collection management
• Would need more money for programming, and more programs
• Staff would be constantly pulling holds
• Circulation would increase
• Would need more staff, especially circulation staff and children’s programming staff
• More opportunities for volunteers, such as pulling holds, serving as reading buddies, creating displays and leading programs and book clubs
• Volunteers would need to be highly literate – library would have to be selective about who they accept
• No computers – not many job hunters
• Funds would have to be found outside the library for programming and collection development – partnerships with coffee shops, literacy organizations and community book clubs
• There would be more fines, damaged/lost books and mending
• Would need stricter policies for unattended children
• Would need to have set limits on noise levels for cell phones, laptops, handheld games, etc.
• Would not be much room for public to use meeting spaces – it would always be in use for library programs


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