Strategies for Success
After our discussion about People, Place, and Platform we turned our attention to the Strategies for Success section of Rising to the Challenge. During this time we discussed strategies for planning future services, listed community partners, and identified opportunities for libraries to be recognized as community leaders. Once again, we used the language and content of the Aspen Report to structure our discussion; a brief summary of our discussion is included below and a complete list of ideas is available here.
Aligning library services in support of community goals
Library directors reported that we already are doing a great job knowing the needs of our citizens and understanding community goals. Ways to dive deeper into community knowledge include:
- Asking the community what they want through community discussions, surveys, suggestion boxes, and by working with community agencies and organizations. Several library directors mentioned looking to the Aspen and Harwood Institutes for methods and discussion guides and strategies.
- Providing unique services to support community members, such as: connections to social service agencies, connections to technology, printing services, providing innovative public programs, and going out into the community through intentional outreach programs.
- Partnering with community agencies and organizations to identify community goals, reach a shared target audience, and share resources.
Access to content in all formats
The examples in the Aspen Report for Access to Content in all formats focused on electronic content. Our group identified electronic content as important and also created innovative examples of additional content, services, and collections:
- E-resources, digitized local history, and genealogy resources.
- Internet and wi-fi access to electronic content.
- Homebound delivery and outreach services.
- Access to unique collections, such as: fishing poles, tool libraries, cake pans, seed libraries, and backpack book collections for youth.
Ensuring long-term sustainability for public libraries
Transformation and change does not happen overnight and it requires practical examination and discussion about organizational sustainability. Library directors speak the language of sustainability and our group identified great examples of ways that public libraries can sustain transformation and organizational change:
- Continue to partner with local organizations.
- Identify clear goals and outcomes that meet demonstrated needs.
- Continue to listen to community members and be nimble organizations that create services and programs to support community goals.
- Tell the library story. Talk about what the ways that we support community life. Tell our tale as a qualitative story rather than a quantitative one.
- Identify alternative funding opportunities, such as grants and partnering with local agencies to write them.
Library leaders gathered in the meeting room at the DeForest Public Library on March 17th to discuss organizational and community goals. These leaders identified opportunities for public libraries to be viewed as organizational leaders within their communities and examples include:
- Setting and being “at the table.”
- Identifying talents and leadership qualities of staff and providing opportunities for all staff members to be leaders.
- Encourage professional development and take advantage of CE opportunities.
- Become active members of community organizations, such as the Chamber, Rotary, Optimists, etc.
- Create a library “elevator speech.”
- Improve communication with local leaders and legislators (advocacy).
Our discussions during the afternoon of the March 2016 All-Directors meeting were energetic, engaging, and exciting. The discussions provided a foundation and structure to identify System services and projects. We look forward to continuing the discussion about ways that public libraries can support community life and identifying SCLS Service Priorities that meet shared goals.