When A Plan Comes Together: CLP, The Next Five Years, and You

Just so you know, library workers think about you a lot.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, by travelinlibrarian

Not in a creepy-stalker way, of course. It’s just that we take the “public” part of “public service” pretty seriously. Libraries are built to serve communities, and communities are made up of people. Last time we checked, you’re a person; ergo, we think about you. A lot. Just to make sure we’re on track with what you really want and need from a library.

Right now the Carnegie Library is specifically thinking of you in the context of its strategic planning process.  We asked Pittsburghers for their input on how we should craft our vision of library service for the next five years. Many of you responded, and we took what you had to say very seriously. Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve done so far, with links to summary documents in .PDF format that you can read to see what your friends and neighbors had to say about the future of the Carnegie Library.

February 24, 2012: The library hosted two workshops whose participants were drawn from for-profit and non-profit organizations all over Pittsburgh. The fine folks who attended are considered community stakeholders, people whose own organizations and services are a vital part of Pittsburgh, and we wanted to make sure we included them in the process so that we could work together for the common good.

February 25th through March 31st, 2012: The first of many community meetings was held in Oakland on February 25th, and over 100 Pittsburghers turned up to give their opinions on what was important to them as library users. We also collected feedback online, with a live survey that ran from March 1st through March 31st, 2012. You can read about the kinds of questions we asked and the sort of feedback we were looking for in the official discussion guide, which was used by both in-person and online participants. All the information we collected during that time was collated into a summary document that will now drive our next moves.

And what might those be, you ask? Good question!

Everyone on the Carnegie Library staff–from the clerks who shelve your books all the way up to the lady at the helm–has had a chance to read the community feedback and work together in small groups to generate ideas of their own. We’ve had more meetings than you can shake a very large stick at, and a healthy dose of brown-bag lunch conversations to boot. All that togetherness gave us a chance to shape your feedback into a vision of the library’s future that you will now have an opportunity to comment on.

When and where?  Your first opportunity is coming soon: join us in person on Monday, May 7th, 2012 at the Main Library in Oakland. We’ll be meeting in Classroom B, in the Center for Museum Education, so you’ll want to use the Portal Entry in the Carnegie Museum of Art parking lot. When you walk through the first set of glass doors, Classroom B is on your right. You’ll get a brand-new discussion guide that contains the vision, which you’ll have a chance to read and comment on in small groups. We want to make sure that the vision we came up with matches the direction you told us you wanted to go, so your response to what we’ve come up with is a vital part of the process; we just can’t move forward without you.

Can’t make it on Monday? Don’t worry–you’ll have options. Bookmark the Strategic Plan section of our website and check back frequently for information on upcoming community meetings in other city locations, plus more opportunities for online feedback. If you haven’t already liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter, you’ll want to link up with us there as well, because we frequently share information via our social networks. If you’re more of a face-to-face type person, please don’t be shy: head to the nearest CLP branch, locate someone with a big orange and purple “L” on his/her badge, and have them bring you up to speed on strategic planning news.

There are a lot of different ways to be a library in a rapidly changing world, but the best way to be a library is to be the library your community actually needs. As smart as we are, and as skilled as we are at what we do, we can’t do our jobs without you. You’re the missing link, the secret ingredient, the 39th step–you get the picture. So please come be part of the bigger picture, and help us with the next phase of the strategic plan.

–Leigh Anne

2 Comments

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2 responses to “When A Plan Comes Together: CLP, The Next Five Years, and You

  1. ZZMike

    This is off the usual track. Recently, I’ve heard grumbling in letters to the editor (most likely from people who are born grumblers) that libraries are way too expensive. (I’m still with that old Scot who made most of them possible.)

    One particular complaint went against having free access computers. There’s a small branch public library that I used to go to when I worked near there – they have a few dozen computers. At least 3/4 of the users were school-age kids playing online games and running Facebook &c. for hours on end (though the library does have a time-limit and a sign-up sheet).

    Then there’s the issue of having filters and blocks to make sure nobody sees the “wrong kind” of material.

    Do y’all (having no other plural for “you”) feel that libraries should support computers? What about just WiFi and BYOC?

    Some of the things the library does that are definitely good: children’s programs, from early reading through Young Adult; lectures and seminars &c; a meeting place for local groups (bridge clubs, historical societies &c) ; Friends of the Library (seems to be a nationwide thing).

    Sometimes I get the impression that nobody reads any more. But then I see that bookstores are still open (most of them); I see sales of readers like Nook &c going well. Do you see any trends either toward or away from reading? Could we be splitting into a nation of readers and non-readers?

    • Thanks for the long, thoughtful comment, Mike!

      It’s an interesting time to work in libraries. There is definitely a demand for computer usage and new formats / services, but there’s also a strong demand for books and other traditional services (i.e. children’s storytime, book group meetings) too.

      Carnegie Library does offer computer access, which you can read more about here:

      Technology at CLP”.

      Hopefully that will answer a lot of your questions about our position on computer use / access in our library.

      Leigh Anne

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