Notes from July 16th Public Focus Group–North County Regional Library

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

Public Session #1

North County Regional

July 16, 2008

1. What type of changes do people see in the community.

– More people are looking online for everything, because of this, libraries have more computers.

– People want to stay close to and within their community, especially with gas prices being high. This encourages people to go the library for internet and computer resources.

– Libraries have their biggest numbers of attendance for summer reading. More kids are coming in and completing the program.

– Kids are becoming younger and younger who use the computer, parents are finding things online that interest their children.

– Families are concerned with the safety of their children, parents feel the library is safe, will leave child unattended. At times, staff need to find parent of child. This needs to change.

– How central the library is for the community has changed. Higher incomes go to online resources from home to get books, utilizing Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online. How relevant the library is to some members of the community has changed. How to make the people more aware of the library needs to occur.

– The county has become more diverse.

– It has become harder to have affordable housing within the city, which is pushing people out that rely on library services. People can’t continuously be pushed out the city.

– Crime has now become more of a concern; this is a change for people. Crime yields an uneasy feeling about some parts of the community; some areas are not as safe as they used to be.

– Growth is a dominant factor, how the library continues to provide services and buildings we place in the community.

– Between 3-5 years, our schools will be majority poor. This occurs in almost 15 states, sad that library positions where cut in our schools.

– Community has become more open, ideas and authors we couldn’t discuss 5 years ago are more tolerated.

– Noise created by patrons upsets those who want the library to remain a quiet place. How do we address this issue?

2. What are the library-specific changes that have occurred?

– Technology and computers, people come to the library to use these as a source of information. It is a real challenge to provide technology to a wide range of community-some people are computer-savvy, others are not. Literacy skills, peoples comfort levels and those who don’t want to learn, but have we have to accommodate these people.

– The ability to get coffee in some locations, University City Regional and South County.

– Parents and kids are in library together when school is out to be together or work on homework. Attendee mentioned how one of their best experiences in the library was observing a family at University City Regional working on a research problem.

– At times, would like there to be more quiet rooms.

– Library is more of a community meeting place now; this is very common in successful library systems.

– Popular programs being offered at locations, Out to Lunch and a Movie very popular program at North County.

– There are more community investments in the library.

3. Availability of Books

-People enjoy the ILL service, holds and email notification services.

-It is a challenge to manage the collection, transporting books from branch to branch.

4. Scenario A: High Tech Library

– Words used to describe scenario were “electricity,” “colorful,” “cool,” and “fast and accurate.”

– Scenario was also described as very modern and dynamic, active, and life giving.

– Libraries are one of the few public resources with free internet. People come to the library to try out new technology.

– In order to have this type of environment, staff would have to be nice, not mean.

– Technology is not cheap and will not become cheap. The “worldwide middle class” will want access to new technology. Market won’t allow price drop and people may not be able to perform high tech services at home, will have to come to library.

– People would be more likely to come to the library if they are able to come out and try a new technology.

– Will people think it is not worth it to fund technology in the library? Will need to change thought process, step up from a community aspect in order to convince people it is worth funding. Would need to work on explaining how the world is changing and people need to come out of their comfort zone and experience this new technology.

– Would need to look at having these types of libraries in communities where people can walk to branch and use technology.

5. Scenario B: Book Based Library

– Words used to describe scenario were “warm and fuzzy,” “comfy chair,” “family,” and “exciting-great bookstore.”

– Children should have an early experience in libraries and reading and there should be an emphasis on this as they grow.

– Children should flourish and families should want to be at the library.

– PLCMC should have an institution that is geared towards reading; it should be an emotional and spiritual institution in the community.

– The book based atmosphere of the library should not be taken away; this is the first reason why people come to the library. The library should be all things in this scenario to a community.

– Having an institution that is focused on reading, which is fundamental, is important.

– Society has drifted away from reading books, people now want visual input.

– People tend to forget that librarians are great resources; they are nice and have never met a “not nice” librarian.

– Librarians need to be sold more.

– The real strength of libraries is the personal experience people have, no matter what they are learning. From reading to technology, the biggest challenge for libraries, especially those will smaller staff, is the increase in patrons.

– The skills staff need to train and help patrons is a challenge, but it is wonderful what they can learn.

– People want an experience when they come to the library. The staff listens and decides on the best actions based on what parents say about their children. Parents know that staff try to know the children that come in and it makes them happy.

– Parents now plan trips to the library; younger families are now coming in. Results in families wanting more individual attention when it comes to reader’s advisory assistance.

3 Responses to “Notes from July 16th Public Focus Group–North County Regional Library”

  1. freshpulp Says:

    As everyone knows, traffic in Huntersville is plain stupid. That will only get worse over time. The DOT completely botched both the entrance and exit of this “business park” that leads to North County Library. All of the businesses in this park must hate the situation, and surely they have complained, because it is simply awful.

    I don’t know if the library can do anything about it, because the exit and entrance are separate from the library entrance, but I’m just saying – I dread coming to North County because I have to literally plan which way to go in and out, and where to make a U Turn because you can’t turn left. Try to get in and out of there and back home, and you’ll quickly understand what I mean.

    Aside from the traffic, I am really pleased with the size of the collection at this library. It seems like every visit, I find a new area I hadn’t been to before. I especially like the extensive “Book Buyer” area, where you can buy Used books. The books in this area are MUCH better than those found at locations like Mountain Island Library. The prices are very reasonable, and I enjoy perusing them. This goes with my want for the library to allow users to say “I want to buy this instead of check it out for 2 weeks”. It’s an obvious progression to me. Please do not get rid of the used book area at this library, it is my favorite, and I would only want to see it expand to include CD’s and DVD’s (Considering they are tested to be skip-free, as I have found many in PLCMC’s system that do skip).

    I really don’t have much of a complaint other than one thing that bothered me today.

    I enjoy browsing the big CD selection at North County. They house it in a ridiculously large Cabinet that is only half full. You can pull out the wooden drawers and flip through the CD’s. The problems with it? First thing is, all of the CD’s are sitting facing you. Instead, they should be Sideways with the End’s facing up. This would allow you to see the title and artist of every CD without having to flip through all of them. It would be much much easier that way. Looking at covers, then having to look at the side to find the title (Sometimes) is just an extra added step that can be avoided.

    The other problem with the CD box area is that it is loud. You try your best to flip CD’s quietly, but it is physically impossible. This library is dead silent (Why not have a non-offensive “Spa” channel like Spa 73 on Sirius Satellite Radio running at low volume in certain areas of the library?), and you feel like a total jerk when you are just trying to browse CD’s. Today there was a woman sitting at the table that was poorly placed just 5 feet away from this CD box. I cringed as I flipped through discs, because I am such a good person 😉 She was trying to do her school work, and I was no doubt messing up her concentration.

    C’mon, those are easy problems to fix. They sound stupid now, but I promise that they make sense if you go to North County and experience them. It’s the little things that matter the most.

  2. Julie Kelly Says:

    I love that the library has free wireless and that there is trend toward the coffee/technology thing in addition to having it being a public meeting spot. It is very difficult for nonprofit clubs and groups to find free places to meet on a regular basis, and I would love for the library to have space and sound buffers to allow this because it’s clear that quiet spaces are still needed.

    Maybe a move toward having the library be more like a bookstore with coffee (money making tool!) but with separate study rooms and community rooms, probably at opposite ends of the library from each other.

    I’d also like to see more comfy seating, though I know it’s not cheap. Sometimes I want to go to the library to work (I work from home) and have all the wonderful resources around me, but
    1. Afraid I won’t be able to sit in a chair that I find for more than 10 min. due to comfort.
    2. Almost too quiet!
    3. No food or drink means I won’t stay for long.

    I’d also love to have an email reminder a few days before my books are due – maybe that is possible now…Right now I get them after I already have fines!

  3. Chris Bates Says:

    Julie-

    I’m one of the library staff working on the PLCMC Community Forum Blog. I read that you would like advanced notification of when your library books are due. I recommend LibraryElf. You can find information about it and other services that may benefit you on the PLCMC Website at http://www.plcmc.org/Catalog/libmat.asp. This page includes information about “Keeping Up with Library Materials – Email & Telephone Notification.”

    Please let me know if you have any questions. And thanks for commenting on the blog!

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