Recently the Aspen Institute released a study entitled, Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries. It is the result of a variety of collaborative discussions among library administrators, government officials, academics, publishers, foundations, and business leaders seeking a “new vision” for “the public library in the digital age.” The report is built around “people, place, and platform,” the key ingredients of excellent library service. A good library brings the people of the community together, it provides an open and welcoming environment for all age groups, and it offers both physical and virtual access to “tools and resources with which to discover and create knowledge.”
It is interesting to note that our Mission Statement reads, “Shaker Heights Public Library builds community and enriches lives by bringing together people, information, and ideas.” Sounds very similar!
The long-term “strategies for success” presented in the report are as follow:
- Aligning library services in support of community goals
- Providing access to content in all formats
- Ensuring the long-term sustainability of public libraries
- Cultivating leadership
Again, Shaker Library’s Balanced Scorecard strategic plan seems on target. For example, our four major strategic initiatives mirror the above:
- Integrate the library into all aspects of community life (Customers)
- Improve delivery, use, and application of technology (Internal Processes)
- Explore and reduce costs; explore feasibility of new facility (Financial)
- Foster employee skills and development (Organizational Readiness)
How are we becoming a bigger part of the community? To begin with, over 40% of our staff lives in the community and about 10% are involved in various groups around town. As an institution, we continue to work with the MyCOM out-of-school-time program and we are pursuing educational initiatives with the schools and other organizations. We are also creating common ground with efforts like our first-ever Community Baby Shower.
We have been doing more to provide better access to new formats, such as with the new Hoopla streaming service for movies, music, TV, and audiobooks, while promoting the longtime availability of ebooks with the addition of an OverDrive Media Station. As a member library, we are also pleased that the CLEVNET consortium circulated its 1,000,00th eBook last month and the growth rate at Shaker Library is approximately 30% year-to-date.
Long-term sustainability issues are being addressed with reduced hours and FTE, staff contributions toward health insurance, and the ongoing follow-up to our facility studies, which have identified and prioritized maintenance needs and have begun the examination of alternative solutions through an open and public process epitomized by the recent World Café community sessions.
We are cultivating “knowledgeable, passionate, and tech-savvy staff” through required training levels and core competencies that have been established and included as part of our performance review process. All of this is done with the intent to provide employees with the “tools they need to provide excellent customer service” as we strive to become a “re-envisioned” 21st century Shaker Library!