The Transylvania Times -

Library Comes Up With Goals


June 19, 2017

Improving outreach efforts and getting the word out about all the things the Transylvania County Library offers are among the goals the staff has set for itself.

During their regular meeting last week, the Transylvania Board of Commissioners approved the library’s strategic plan for 2017-2022.

The plan, which was worked on for the past year, is laid out on a website, which may be accessed via the library website’s main page. Commissioner Mike Hawkins praised the library’s new mission and vision (see side bar on page 14A) that are included in the plan, while also saying its goals are ones the library has already been pursuing but “just want to get better.”

Library Director Anna Yount agreed, saying most of the feedback from residents was that the library does a great job, but some things could be improved. She suggested that she and her staff have embraced that feedback.

Yount went through five main goals that the library will focus on:

•Goal 1 — “Welcome” —

Create friendly spaces and experiences: Re-envision library space for our dynamic and diverse community; create a flexible and open atmosphere; and eliminate barriers to access.

Yount said to meet this goal may entail looking at its policies, such as allowing food and drink in the library, extending operating hours and opening on Sunday.

•Goal 2 — “Reach Everyone” — Extend library programs and services to all of Transylvania County: Deliver a rich array of library programs for all ages at a variety of locations; explore opportunities for satellite combination facilities; create community partnerships and programs that contribute to a strong 21st century workforce for Transylvania County; develop a more robust digital library landscape; and enrich and re-focus bookmobile services to create a more powerful outreach tool.

Yount said the library needs to “ramp up” its outreach efforts.

In Rosman, she said, residents said they would like a library branch, while others called for branches in the four corners of the county.

Commissioner Jason Chappell thanked the library for focusing on the importance of the bookmobile, noting that not all residents have access to electronic devices or services.

•Goal 3 — “Connect” —

Engage Transylvanians of all ages with each other in meaningful ways: Provide meaningful, enriching inter-generational programs and activities; develop meaningful, enriching multi-generational volunteer opportunities; actively engage our diverse community around key issues; and forge a robust partnership with Transylvania County Schools.

Yount said the feedback they had on this was “unexpected.” They heard from every group the need for “intergenerational programs, volunteer opportunities” and a “longing” to connect with one another.

Teens, she said, want to talk to older generations and forge mentoring relationships about jobs and careers.

Grandparents want to be involved in story times with children, while teens said that they too want to work with younger children.

People want the library to be a safe and neutral place to talk about key issues in the community, Yount said.

•Goal 4 — “Read to Succeed” — Ensure that every child is ready to read and succeed: Cultivate a continuum of educational support that begins at birth; empower families, caregivers and educators to help all children succeed; and deliver early learning activities and resources beyond the library’s walls.

Yount said the community feedback was the desire for every child to read and be ready to learn in kindergarten. She noted library staff’s involvement in the ongoing Early Childhood Initiative. Commissioner Page Lemel said library staff have made “substantial contributions” to the initiative’s efforts.

•Goal 5 — “Get the Word Out” —Promote the library and all that it offers: Raise community awareness about library events, resources and services; expand the library’s publicity network through partnerships; and be the community’s information hub.

Yount said there are many residents who don’t know the range of the services that the library provides and the library needs to do a better job of informing the public.

“Libraries are much more than book warehouses,” she said. “We are a trusted community resource and far more versatile than many people realize.”

The Transylvania library has the third-highest per capital circulation in the state and the highest electronic circulation in the state.

The strategies and activities developed using the plan will be integrated into the library’s work plan, as part of the overall county work plan, during each budget cycle.

The library was awarded a 2016-2017 LSTA Planning Grant from the State Library of North Carolina for $48,626.

It allowed the library to use the 2014 Aspen Institute report, “Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public libraries,” and its companion action guide, to create a new strategic plan.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization whose mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.

Maureen Sullivan, a founding member of The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and a national library leader, was hired by the library to guide its work on the plan.

Work included researching community trends and demographics, scrutinizing the library’s physical space and brainstorming about its virtual space.

Key stakeholders were interviewed and the public was asked to submit letters telling what they do like and don’t like about the library. Seven public dialogue sessions were also held.

All of the information went into the plan’s creation, Yount said.

Transylvania’s library is one of the first to use the Aspen plan for strategic planning. Yount and County Manager Jaime Laughter have been invited by the Aspen Institute to do a webinar on the planning process.

Sullivan told commissioners that the state sees the “importance” of Transylvania’s library and the county’s residents are “very privileged” to have it.

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