Notes from July 19th Public Focus Group–Freedom Regional Library

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

Public Session # 2

Freedom Regional

July 19, 2008

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

– In the West Boulevard Corridor, crime is down and more people are involved in the community.

– There is more of an interest in libraries coming from children; it would be nice if this could occur citywide.

– Children score better on school tests if they attend libraries more.

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

– In particular at Mountain Island and Main Library, staff are interactive and more attentive to patron requests. Patrons are able to ask questions, staff will explain and make sure patron has everything they need. Many good experiences burning CDs in Virtual Village.

– Freedom Regional Staff are professional and friendly. They will greet you as you walk in. At Main Library, a woman spent 30 minutes of their time to make sure information was understood.

– Help that is received is step by step, that doesn’t happen as much now in some places. This shows where the library is headed.

– Reading down fines system, appreciative of director helping remedy problem of children with high fines, which prevents them from being able to use computers and check out materials. The reading down system helps get children back in the library. Kids need to be in library, regardless of book or computer use.

– Received outstanding help from Beatties Ford Road and Freedom Regional staff to coordinate an event.

– Freedom Regional meeting space is a very positive space for community. It serves as a hub for outward communication.

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

– Chasm between youth culture and history of city. There is not enough effort made in preserving and informing youth and adults about history of today and the past. The library can bridge this gap between what was and what is. The library can show how a community can work together.

– Libraries should have a Charlotte history month to promote books that are about the history of the city.

– Libraries should create an environment where people can build relationships with the intent of sharing information with each other. When people know you care, people are more willing to listen than just give information.

– West Boulevard branch should have a section for children. Currently, children and adults have to share computers in same area. The challenge in this is providing space for the youth. Building additions should be made. How can the money be obtained in order to build this space for children.

– If children had an area of their own, they would be able to work on homework and be on computers. This is an important need in the community because children will be able to walk and not have to rely on transportation to get to other branches. There are over 3,000 children in West Boulevard Corridor; there is a place in West Boulevard Branch for kids in grades 1-5 to go to, but no location for children in grades 6-12.

– Showing more films in library is vital because people will begin to learn things that are generally not known about history. More films should be shown at Main Library rather than just at Beatties Ford Road and Freedom Regional. People do not realize the impact of events on history because the information is not presented to the public enough.

– People do not have an interest in things if they see them all the time. The library needs to generate interest in its building and activities by presenting more appealing information. Main Library is a center of interest; promotion of the city would spread if the library was more active in doing so.

– Main Library and Downtown parking situation needs to be addressed. When people come to visit library, they usually stay more than 90 minutes.

– Children are scoring low on tests. We need ideas from everyone in order to get children into the library. The library can help through the things that they are doing now.

– Many young people from many generations do not understand what they are reading. Most can’t read for comprehension, do not understand words or phrases. Would like for the library to integrate reading for comprehension with current programs, it will yield greater interest in the library.

– People have a concept that libraries are stuffy and they do not know how to obtain books. People need to realize you don’t have to know the Dewey Decimal System in order to find a book. The library should be a core center of learning for the community, not an educational institution.

4. Scenario A: High Tech Library

– Missing books, it’s all about technology. Books are needed in the library.

– Libraries must stay abreast of technology.

– People are not learning verses the absorbing of materials when they use the computer to read. The library can enhance comprehension for students and adults.

– There is a tension between technology and books. More things are technology based such as job applications. People have to learn technology skills in order to look up and apply for jobs.

– Library has resources for anything and staff can guide them to this information. There is a lack of media exposure to community and the library should be out there. Never see anything on television about events; if possible, one may be able to read about it.

– The library is on its way to the high tech scenario. Any solution that does not stay abreast of new technology will die. There should be access for the tech savvy and non-tech savvy visitors of the library.

– 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

– Most people are on the fast track in life, want books on tapes, CDs, can drive and listen to book. People are not going to read as much.

– Libraries need to be able to provide the need for instant gratification. Patrons should be able to have access to library in some way, even if it is not a physical visit.

– Absence of learning styles, schools don’t vary their styles. People have to have different ways of learning.

– Libraries need to have a foundation for people to understand how to read and libraries need to make sure people are able to read.

– There needs to be a balance of technological and non-technological materials for people. The balance will not be easy to obtain, will take work.

– It’s great to have format options for books and materials. It’s great to have CD’s, one can listen while they drive.

– The technology model is more of a business center model, a more effective way of getting information. Books are sterile, if you see them in different formats, it opens up a new world. The most productive societies are not sterile; there is a feeling of being on the move.

– Variety of book formats especially important for teens. Doesn’t matter what the format is, as long as they are reading.

6. Final Thoughts and Comments

– No one seems to care anymore, the people of the community have to take initiative

– People need to go to city leaders and tell what they think and feel about their community.

– There has to be a relationship between the library and private sector. If businesses invest in the library, they will be involved in the process. The private, public and educational sectors should all connect. Businesses have just as much responsibility as the public does when it comes to giving back to the community.

– Advertise more through papers and radio, this could increase business.

– Libraries should make an effort to have major corporations “adopt a branch” of the library. The relationship could make a lot of improvements happen for the library.

– Libraries can help teach children to read, but the parents have to do their part in educating their child. Both scenarios need to be incorporated into the library.

– There should be a periodical event that brings the community together. Once people are there, tell them what the library provides. The library should be marketed more.

– Times are tough, people turn to the library because of its free resources, such as a place to look for jobs and to submit a resume. Library staff can help them find all the information they need.

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