In preparation for the New Year, we have completed another observational study and will revise our Balanced Scorecard strategic plan accordingly. Spanning a two-week period in November, we studied what customers were doing during every hour of operation at both the Main Library and Bertram Woods Branch.
We identified individuals as children, teens, adults, or seniors, and then made a determination as to what each was doing at the observational time. Were they reading, browsing the shelves, meeting with others, or using a computer or digital device? While all the numbers have not been analyzed, what is apparent is that many more people are using personal technology—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—than we observed in our original 2011 study.
Interestingly, the number of people using library computers appears to be the same, or higher, than in 2011. Even with fewer hours at Bertram Woods, there was only a small drop in the use of public computers at the Branch and usage was up about 14% at Main, for a 12% increase overall. After 20 years of providing computer access to the public, 2014 will be another all-time record year, exceeding 200,000 sessions for the first time!
A recent technology survey has shown that people use our computers to access a variety of information. Responses were almost equally divided among Education, Health & Wellness, eGovernment, Civic Engagement, eCommerce, and Social Inclusion, with Employment being slightly higher than the others and Entrepreneurship slightly lower. Even though 79% say that they have regular Internet access elsewhere, they continue to see the Library as an important service location for access.
As we move into 2015 we plan to keep the same strategic themes that were laid out with our mission, vision, and values statements as part of the current strategic plan:
• Innovative, customer-driven services in vibrant, welcoming spaces
• Improvements through efficient, cost-effective processes
• Knowledgeable, passionate, tech-savvy, service oriented staff
• Fiscal strength through strategic budgeting
We will recognize accomplishments, re-examining some of our earlier assumptions, and develop actions steps into the year 2016.
In the coming year, our strategic focus will be on three key areas of emphasis Finances, Facilities, and Families.
Finances: Because of the stringent measures adopted in 2014, we have been able to balance the library’s budget and even add slightly to our reserves. We will implement staff health insurance contributions in 2015, but we will also be able to give the first salary increases since 2013.
Facilities: We will continue to address facility concerns as we look to complete the concept development phase with HBM Architects and to set a direction for facility design and funding with our community partners—the City and the Schools— as well as with our residents.
Families: We will expand our outreach to new parents, with programs like our Community Baby Shower held in late October; begin early childhood initiatives with other public libraries across the county; and launch joint efforts—such as addressing the achievement gap—with the Shaker Schools.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director