Notes from July 24 Public Focus Group-South County Regional Library

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

Public Session # 5

South County Regional

July 24, 2008

1. What positive things or experiences have occurred in the library?

– Being able to borrow materials from all branches is great. You can put an item on hold at one location and pick it up at another.
– Patrons love the fact that items can be put on hold and have them delivered to their location of choice.
– The staff of the library are the epitome of customer service. They could go into corporate America and train employees on customer service. Library staff and patrons share a love of reading. Working in the library is never just a job to the people who work in the system.
– Charlotte has one of the finest systems in the country. It would be great to see more outreach to the community to those who don’t have access to the library.
– The library is starting to come into the community and they see what things in the neighborhoods are actually like.

2. What problems does the South County facility have?

– The sidewalk for South County Regional is not handicap accessible. When coming down Rea Road, down Hwy 51, one has to move (via wheelchair) onto the next street. There is no pedestrian access at South County.
– The handicap buttons on the doors do not always works, they have to  be pressed several times on occastion.
– For a handicap person, the higher shelving can be a problem, but there is always staff there to help pull books down.
– The library should factor in facilities master planning and where libraries are located in regards to pedestrian use, it can’t always be controlled where the county puts sidewalks.

3. What challenges have occurred in Charlotte and how can the library help?

– There has to be a way for the library to come into the school and help with diversity. Libraries should return to more of a grassroots effort, focusing on how to help each other and how it can help build community.
– Media Specialist in the school system fight to get kids into the library.  The librarians at University City come every year to one CMS location to talk about the library. The kids get to sign up for cards, but there is hesitation from the parents to put down a address in the system.
– When kids to get to go to the library, they come back excited at what they can get. The library has to go out to the Latino communities in the area to bring children into the library.
– The library should create a bookmobile through corporate donations. People could donate to the bookmobile and newspapers could be out to cover.
– The library should reach out to the aging population and retirees. The library should be brought to these populations and train them in force.

4. How can the library work with schools going forward to help with the challenges?

– The staff from the University City comes out to talk about summer reading. When they do come out, there is so little time and so many students, not able to reach out to all.  It would be nice for storytellers to create a DVD of storytelling and then talking about the library that can be shown to classes. If kids go to library and see storyteller, it will be special to them.
– Someone should come to beginner’s night in schools with library card applications and talk about PLCMC. There should especially be someone there who speaks Spanish to speak to students and families.
– If library staff visited community centers or other places where families visit, this could help bring more children into the library.
– The library should create an outreach program where senior citizens visit schools and read to the children.

5. What can the library do to help the growth in Matthews and support families?

– The library should play on the fact that the library is a community wide system. The library should bank on its strengths, i.e. although ImaginOn is centralized and has all the teen activities at this one location, it is still a cool place to go and do work and research.
– Most readers are writers, if the library gave them a place to write, they would be most happy. If the library brings people in the community to libraries, then the library can come to the community and hear from them.

6. How do patrons feel about access to books in PLCMC?

– The access to books is great; the use of ILL is very helpful.
– Patrons can get anything they want in a timely fashion as the library. There is no need to go to the store unless it is to buy something for a personal collection.
– It is greatly appreciated that a library staff member will refer patrons to resources to help them find information.

7. Does the Matthews community need another library?

– It would be nice if Matthews was open on Sunday. Libraries need to be in places where people and children need access.
– The library is much more than a place just to get books, it is a community gathering spot and it is important that growth happens.


8. Scenario A: High-Tech Library

– Words used to describe this scenario are “innovative,” “ImaginOn,” “noisy,” and “cool.”
– The idea of this library is fine as long as there is access to books. Older people, who may not have technology skills, may be intimidated by this new library style.
– The type of scenario is for a certain population, technology-based. Nowadays, the public has to be redefined because the demographics are different.
– This is a nice scenario and would like to have this, but it is preferred to have the experience of books.

9. Scenario B: Book-based Library

– This scenario was described as “exclusive;” it is a place that people would love to go to, but they would have to have a love of reading.
– If a person doesn’t love reading, then they would not like this scenario.
– The scenario was also described as “limiting,” what could be done here can only go as far as the environment would allow.
– It was also described as “old fashioned,” which can be good.

10. How can a balance be found between the scenarios?

– The library has already managed to have both scenarios. Patrons are shocked at how much is available right on our website. People no longer have to go to the library to check out, reserve, renew books, and this is enjoyed. Very little time is spent in the building anymore, it’s great to be able to take advantage of the fact that staff is able to extend so much customer service to people.
– The library has to provide story time for children; this is where children fall in love with books. PLCMC has to be a service to those who don’t read books; the library has to cater to other interest, research, and those who listen to books. The library has to do what it takes to make children better thinkers. A location does not have to be all about books, if a person is a real reader, they will find something to read anywhere.
– The library is 2 things, books and the public. If a person comes in to read, he comes in for what a library is built for. The library also has to focus on how to get the nonreader in the building. The library needs to market what they do for the community and the other services that they provide in order to get nonreaders in.

11. Final thoughts and comments

– PCs are always busy, there are never enough. The library should have more money put into computers because so many people don’t have access at home.
– Branch libraries should be empowered, we should make sure we don’t have people who are going to hide in the office, but get out on the floor and help people.
– Libraries should embrace the communities around them, regardless of their condition. We need to make sure community libraries are reach out, no matter what it takes.
– If libraries are unsure as to how they are going to reach out to community, libraries should offer meeting to the community and allow people to talk about their ideas. The local press should be contacted so the meetings can be advertised to all in community and surrounding areas.
– Libraries need more staff in development to raise money. We should think of different ways in order to raise money for the library. Libraries should have someone put the word out about libraries, send things to papers, local and community papers, that get out to the community.
– The greeters at South County are great, as well as the Art-O-Mat. The library needs to market what they offer more. There are cool and fun things at the library.
– The library system is good with the books collection; we no longer need fifty copies of a book in the system, especially with the floating collection now. Materials now get to all branches.
– The library needs to advertise more in hometown papers, i.e. Matthews Record. The paper will support the library system and get behind it by publishing articles about events and happenings in the library system. Focus groups are the type of meetings hometown papers were looking for so that the community can be heard.


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