David Price leading a strategic planning meeting with library patrons in Berryville.
The Carroll and Madison County Library System has hired a strategic planning consultant to help library boards, staffs, and customers describe what the future of our county libraries could look like. For the past few weeks, consultant David Price, a former Assistant Librarian of the State of California, and library staffs, are holding public meetings to solicit ideas that will shape our libraries operating agendas for the next several years.
The Berryville meeting was held on September 3rd, at the Public Library. Jean Elderwind, Secretary of the Carroll and Madison County Library Foundation, and Price, sought ideas from the audience about what the challenges and opportunities for our libraries could be over the next five to 10 years.
A big challenge and opportunity will be how library staffs and library customers engage technological changes as media--books, music, film, and reference materials--becomes more and more available in electronic formats. For example, today's customers, who go to the library and check out a movie DVD could, in the future, stream films directly from home via an electronic process that operates an awful lot like Netflix. This is certainly an opportunity for customers, but it also means that libraries will need to make significant investments in hardware, software, and staff training.
Another opportunity and challenge identified was the need for libraries to assure that outreach programs reached all members of the community. "What programs are necessary," Price asked, "to reach out to pre-schoolers, children, adolescents, and adults? How do we keep all ages of people coming to the library?"
Several audience members noted that our libraries need to physically expand in the near future. Large multi-purpose use space in each of our libraries is needed to assure that after school and summer programs for children remain viable, to host community "movie nights" for area residents, and to facilitate GED and job seeking opportunities for adults, young and old.
"Diversification of support and funding for libraries must also occur," said Price. "The Carroll and Madison County taxpayers have been very generous to our libraries. But we need to seek and receive support from foundations and individuals if we're going to reach our biggest dreams. Taxpayers can't do it alone."
After Price meets with all library boards, and is finished gathering ideas and opinions from customer audiences from each library, he will write a comprehensive Strategic Plan to guide library staffs, boards, and the Carroll and Madison Library System as a whole, as they make plans for the future. If you have questions about the planning process, or want to share your ideas for the future of our libraries, contact any library staff, or leave comments at your library's website.