With the rapid growth of eBooks, streaming audio and video services, combined with increased usage of libraries nationwide, the public library environment is more unsettled than it has been for many decades. To meet these challenges the Vineyard Haven Public Library Board of Trustees and Library Staff members engaged in a strategic planning process to involve the community in a discussion about what the library could and should become.
Library Trustees followed the Strategic Planning for Results model developed by the Public Library Association. This planning model identifies 18 services responses that cover the many resources and activities that a public library does for, or offers to, the public in an effort to meet a set of well-defined community needs. To help form the plan, the Trustees appointed a Long-Range Planning Committee that included both year-round and seasonal residents.
More than 250 community members responded to two surveys designed to help the library evaluate current services and desired improvements. Members of the public also gathered at two community forums to provide further feedback. It was clear from the participation at the two community forums that the Library is a vital part of the community and a place where people go for books, media, and information, but also for cultural events, as a gathering place, and as a hub for information about what is going on in the town. People place a high value on the services the Library provides and are appreciative of everything the Library and staff does to enhance their experience in the community as a whole.
The Library’s new plan focuses on four strategic initiatives and outlines activities that library staff and trustees will undertake over the next five years to meet the community’s vision. Under the plan, the library will continue to offer a large number of programs to promote lifelong learning and early literacy, and to provide books, films, and other materials in a variety of formats for all ages. In addition, the library will focus on providing information on local, national and world affairs in order to help library patrons become informed citizens and participate in community decision-making.
Although plan activities were slated to begin in July 2013, Library Director Amy Ryan says that both staff and trustees are already acting on initiatives suggested by the plan, such as improving safety around the library grounds, increasing online resources for children, and offering programs such as the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions discussion group, currently meeting at the library on Thursday evenings.
Public Libraries must have an approved Long-Range Plan on file with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in order to apply for both Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds and the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. The library has been awarded two LSTA grants in the past five years, including a "Conversation Circles" grant to support English language learners, and an "Equal Access" grant to provide lifelong learning opportunities for older adults.
The complete plan is available on the library website atwww.vhlibrary.org, and printed copies are available for review at the library.