By Kevin Kelley
The administration of Westlake Porter Public Library is seeking patrons’ input for developing the institution’s strategic plan. Such input is being taken in focus group meetings and written surveys.
Porter Director Andrew Mangels said the input would be used to establish the library’s goals.
Questions on the written survey include “Why do you enjoy living in this area?” and “What could make living here even better?” Mangels said the questions are purposefully broad in scope. Questions specifically geared toward the library would likely yield predictable answers, he said. Instead, the library hopes to discover ways it can help the community that haven’t been thought of yet.
For example, he noted that a library in Kansas that is located next to a pond recently began lending fishing rods for people to use at the pond. Another Kansas library that serves a rural population recently offered a well-attended workshop on how to butcher hogs, Mangels added.
While no such programs are contemplated at Porter, Mangels said residents’ interests could influence the library’s future spending and programming. For example, if a number of patrons say they enjoy studying foreign languages, the library could offer more language resources, he said. If the survey and focus groups indicate significant interest in theater and the arts, more programs could be offered geared to those fields, he added.
Porter’s last strategic plan, completed in 2007, was entitled, “Balance: Embracing Tradition and Technology for Continued Excellence.” That document addressed such areas as customer service and libraries’ growing use of technology.
The first focus group met Monday night. Additional focus groups will meet at 10 a.m. today, 7 p.m. July 15 and 10 a.m. July 17. Registration is not required. Meetings will take place in the Dover Room, and light refreshments will be served. Library patrons can also contribute their ideas in an online survey, accessible through the library’s website at westlakelibrary.org. Survey forms can also be picked up at the library, located at 27333 Center Ridge Road.
In other library news, Mangels and four other Porter staff members recently returned from Chicago, where they attended the annual conference and exhibition of the American Library Association. Mangels said one library trend he continued to hear about is “maker spaces,” small laboratories in which patrons can create content. But the maker spaces go beyond computer labs many libraries have today.
For example, Mangels visited Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, Ill., which has a maker space it calls Studio 300. The area includes a mini TV studio in which patrons can record videos, as well as transfer photos, slides and VHS tapes to digital media. Studio 300 also includes a recording studio complete with a guitar and drum set, Mangels said. When he was visiting, a woman was using a computer to design a logo for a T-shirt, Mangels said. Many maker spaces include 3D printers.
Another service more libraries are offering, Mangels said, is print-on-demand, in which a copy of an out-of-print or custom published book is produced for the reader.
Some libraries are also getting into the book selling business, according to the website goodreads.com. When one searches for a book on a library’s computer catalog, the option of purchasing the book may come up along with the ability to reserve it.
Mangels said such an option is available on the catalog system Porter uses, but he is not sure if the library will purchase that feature. What may be more useful, he said, is a feature that brings up items related to a patron’s search in different media formats, such as maps, photos or magazine articles.
While he seemed very interested in the maker spaces, Mangels said he does not want Porter to be chasing library trends for the sake of being trendy. He also said libraries need to find a balance between offering new services and housing the feature still most associated with libraries – books.
“People want to see books in their public library,” Mangels said.
ICE CREAM SOCIAL: The Friends of Porter Public
Library’s annual ice cream social will be from 6 to 8 p.m. July 29. Mitchell’s Ice Cream will be selling sundaes for $1 in four flavors, including Porter Peppermint Patty. Big
Daddies Band will provide entertainment.