Library completes strategic plan

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

November 14th, 2013

Though some of the methods people use to acquire information have changed, satisfying the community’s desire to learn remains the focus of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library.

The library recently released wits newly completed strategic plan for 2014-2019—the work of approximately 50 people over the course of six months.

Library Director Marti Fiske said the strategic plan helps to guide the library in determining which programming is the most important to sustain or introduce, as well as in choosing materials for the library’s collection. It also helps in applications for funding and grants, many sources of which require a concrete plan.

The plan lists three areas of focus for the future, in order of importance.

The top priority is to “satisfy curiosity” through an expanded variety of programs, access to adult education, an up-to-date nonfiction collection in various formats, wikis and blogs and developing website bibliographies to help patrons find information.

“In every discussion, it was agreed that supporting lifelong learning is the core of the library’s mission,” the plan states. “This begins with encouraging children, at as early an age as possible, in the habit of coming to the library and continues through to our senior citizens with special catering to those who are less mobile.”

The plan lists some ideas to further its main goal, including offering a wider range of programs for all ages and interests, continuing to have students volunteer and work at the library, evening movies, more teen programs and continued support of the summer reading program.

“The library needs to look for new ways to reach the 25-45 year old demographic and encourage them to use the library resources more,” the plan states. “Possible programs for this demographic include evening programs on a variety of subjects that are both interesting and useful, including career topics and cultural programs with music.”

The library listed its second priority as connecting to the online world—providing Internet access without any unnecessary restrictions or fees, as well as access to new technologies.

E-books, for example, were uncommon five years ago when the last strategic plan was completed, Fiske said.

The plan mentions staff training and the possibility for classes, such as being safe in the digital world and evaluating online sources for credibility.

The final area of focus is ensuring the library is a comfortable space to visit, both at the physical library and its virtual spaces. That includes providing comfortable seating throughout the library, meeting rooms for public use, a gallery or exhibit space and a performance space.

Virtually, the library should create and maintain a library events page, as well as create blogs, wikis and opportunities for social networking.

Fiske said the community survey the library conducted over the summer was “huge” in crafting the new strategic plan.

“We needed to hear from more people and that’s what the survey was for,” she said.

Library staff plan to include a regular feature in the library newsletter informing patrons of things that have been changed or added due to feedback.