Jean Anderson and I will be using Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries as a guide for our discussion at the March 17th All-Director’s meeting and I’m looking forward to learning about all the ways that SCLS Member Libraries have been implementing the strategies described in this report.
The theme for this month’s reading is Strategies for Success. Our reading this month focuses on:
- understanding community goals and aligning library services with them
- providing access to content in all formats
- Ensuring long-term sustainability of public libraries
- cultivating leadership.
When I reflect on the reading and on our shared work, I see how libraries in the South Central Library System are at the forefront of community engagement: we’ve been practicing these strategies for a good long time. We’ve been partnering with community organizations and agencies for years to plan programs that meet unique community needs. We’ve embraced new formats and understand that it’s our role to provide public access to them. By doing so -- by developing and maintaining partnerships, by providing access to all types of content -- we prove that we are community leaders of sustainable organizations that continue to evolve with our ever-changing needs.
This evolution happens as we continually use our organizational missions as guides. Innovative planning is supported by strong missions that are clear and understood by all library staff members. A shared sense of purpose builds a powerful staff, administration, and board that is resilient and responsive to community need. Some examples from our System include:
- Thoughtful strategic planning work executed by the Columbus, Fitchburg, Monroe, Stoughton, and Vesper public library directors, boards, and staff.
- Face-to-face connections to social service agencies for homeless patrons at the Madison and Marshfield public libraries.
- Sponsorship partnerships for Summer Library Program events between the Lester Public Library of Rome and the Pittsville Community Library.
- Programming for seniors in partnership with senior center staff by the Dane County Library Service and Portage Public Library.
- The Baraboo Public Library’s presence at the monthly meetings of the Baraboo Economic Development Commission.
As your Outreach Consultant, these themes deeply resonate with me on personal and professional levels. By remaining true to our purpose and mission we will continue to engage with our community members, innately understand how our services, programs, and collections support community, and how we serve as leaders within our communities.
As a reminder, the Aspen Institute recently created a website devoted to the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries - http://www.libraryvision.org/. The report and recently released Action Guide can be downloaded from here. In addition, you can read a variety of library stories including one from our own Columbus Public Library written by Cindy Fesemyer, library director.
I look forward to continuing this discussion that Jean started for us in January and to meeting with many of you at upcoming events to learn more about your strategies for continued success.