Where have we been?
We are no longer a small public library. Nationally we are considered solidly medium sized. In Kentucky, we are a large public library system. From the Statistical Report of Kentucky Public Libraries FY 2012-2013 (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013)
4th in Population (Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton)
4th in Total Operating Revenue (Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton)
3rd in Open Hours (Jefferson, Fayette)
3rd in Visits (Jefferson, Fayette)
4th in Registered Borrowers (Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton)
4th in Collection Expenditures (Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton)
5th in Circulation of Electronic Material per capita (Leslie, Cumberland, Greenup, Kenton)
4th in Total All Materials Circulation (Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton)
1st in Number of Freegal Downloads
4th in Number of Children’s Programs (Jefferson, Kenton, Union)
4th in Children’s Program Attendance (Jefferson, Kenton, Pulaski)
4th in Number of Young Adult programs (Pulaski, Kenton, Jefferson)
6th in Young Adult Program Attendance (Pulaski, Kenton, Jessamine, Jefferson, Bullitt)
4th in Number of Adult Programs (Jefferson, Fayette, Carroll)
3rd in Adult Program Attendance (Jefferson, Fayette)
5th in Number of Reference Questions answered (Jefferson, Kenton, Daviess, Fayette)
Where are we now?
In October, the Library Board signed a continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding with Boone County Success by 6. This is a very important initiative in Boone County to help our youngest citizens be ready to start school. While Success by 6 is a national United Way initiative, Boone County’s version is different from all others in the United States. This is a partnership of Schools, the Library, the Extension District, the Health District, local businesses, local county government and United Way. Not only is this partnership unique, but our funding structure is different; United Way does not fund everything. The partners fund early literacy programs and services in Boone County. We have seen successful with this partnership and hope to see it continue. Besides our story times with an early literacy focus and the work of the Community Center on Wheels (CCOW), BCPL staff train parents and daycare workers. We have staff that are trained in performing developmental screenings and that serve on state Task Forces for early literacy.
We help our kids reach their maximum potential through our active partnerships with local schools and through the complementary collections, programs and services that our Youth Services staff develop.
The adult side of the library moved to supporting 21st century skills with our programming in January 2014. It looks like this strategy is working. While we are offering fewer programs, more customers are attending. We can say that most adult program attendance is based around Communication & Collaboration; Health Literacy, and Global Awareness. We are looking at offering more programming for senior citizens. This is a fast growing demographic group in Boone County.
In November, the Board voted to upgrade our IT infrastructure. We will be moving to a speed of 1 gigabit per second. This is 50 times faster than our current Internet service. This upgrade will take place in late June and will take down the entire network for a period of a few days. This means no automated system for check out or searching our collection, no Internet, and no Email. This upgrade will open entire classes of services to us. Our automated system should be faster for the branch locations. Live streaming audio, video, remote assistance of all kinds will run smoothly. Cloud-based services and storage will become true options. The time spent on maintenance and doing updates will be reduced. Collaboration and communication will be enhanced. In short, we won’t be limited in our online tool selection because of speed the way we are now.
Earn Spend Save. Many staff are involved in programming for our second $100K FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) grant. In the first grant round, the work BCPL did helped FINRA to explain to Congress why the money should be used for Early Literacy and school age programming. When we submitted our expanded grant plan, FINRA did not even blink, due to all the work we were doing with preschool and elementary school children. We are very excited about the programs, the kits, and the training we are able to do with the funds. We have brought back Money Matters Meal Nights where participants of all ages can enjoy a meal and learn more about financial matters. We are working with our partner, Brighton Center, to create materials and programs for senior citizens to help improve financial literacy. The activities will culminate in September with a Family Financial Fitness Fair.
Outreach has exploded. We are not able to meet the demand. In October, a group of adult and youth services staff met and developed a BCPL definition of Outreach. I had come to realize that no two people in the system had the same understanding of outreach. BCPL definition: Outreach services brings the library experience and resources to the community. This means that if a program occurs off library property, it is an outreach program. Now, we are working on what our Outreach priorities should be as a way to help us better budget staff, time and money for this service.
Where are we going?
We need to think outside the walls of the library and beyond collections and circulation, understand the issues in our community and explore how our library can make positive contributions.
I mentioned earlier that adults moved to supporting 21st century skills in our programming. Should Youth Services make the same shift? Or should we move to more fully supporting the school curriculum with our programs?
Are we offering programming when and where we are needed? This is for all age groups.
Family Literacy—I am starting to look at adult literacy as a possible priority. Northern Kentucky used to have a very active adult literacy group. That group has disbanded. I talked to the Assistant Regional Director of Adult Education and discovered that current adult literacy services are for those who have a fourth grade reading equivalency or better. There are no services for those who have a lower level. They turn people away all the time due to this issue. They would love to have some sort of tutoring program in place for adult readers at lower than fourth grade level, but the resources are not there. How can we help?
I am looking at a new online high school for adult learners. This is an alternative to the GED. I understand that since the GED changed the number of people earning GEDs, nationally, in Kentucky and more specifically in Boone County has dropped dramatically. We may want to step in to help with this.
Technology—I think this will always be a priority. Staff have to be able to use all sorts of tech devices, answer questions for parents, adults and kids, know websites, etc… What new services can we and should we offer to our customers?
I know that staff are stretched thin with all the stuff we have going on. I think we need to prioritize and then use our resources (staff, time, money, and facilities) based on our priorities. Which leads me to our Strategic Plan.
Our Strategic Plan expires this year. We will not be using the Planning for Result Strategic Planning Process we used for our last 2 plans. I am looking at using a combination/hybrid of several different strategic planning models. I think we take what we like from several and create what works for BCPL and the community we serve. There will be opportunities for both staff and the public to participate. You will hear more as we fine tune our process. Our priorities may or may not change based on what we learn from this process. Our Strategic Plan will help us figure out what we need to emphasize and what we will no longer support. Watch for more information as this process unfolds. In the meantime, Boone County Public Library will continue to offer stellar service to the citizens of Boone County and do whatever is needed to support lifelong learning and early literacy in our community.
Carrie Herrmann has 26 years of experience in libraries, most of those in Northern Kentucky. A Graduate of University of Kentucky, Carrie is the Library Director for Boone County Public Library.