Orange County to Discuss Strategic Library Plan Tuesday Night

At 7:00 pm on Tuesday night, at the Southern Orange Human Services center at 2501 Homestead Rd in Chapel Hill, the Orange County Comissioners will discuss the Orange County Public Library Draft Strategic Plan for 2013 - 2016.  The draft plan can be found in the Work Session agenda (PDF) on the county website. 

The last time the library was discussed at the BOCC, the county staff suggested that the plan, which is being written up by Dr. Anthony Chow, an assistant professor in the Department of Library Science at UNC-Greensboro, would be critical to informing the site selection of the Southern Branch of the Orange County Library.  The plan begins on page 29 of the PDF after Dr. Chow's Curriculum Vitae.

Appendix A provides a link to a Library Needs Assessment with a completion date of January 2, 2013, which seems to be much more substantive, containing significant amounts of qualitative and quantitative data.

As I read these documents, I'm not sure that there's a hard and fast take-away for library siting.  I think there's a lot of good information in the plan, but I'm not sure it leads you to any particular conclusion on where libraries should be, as much as it talks about what libraries should DO. 

Some excerpts:

The plan states on page 3 and 4 in the Executive Summary about its assessment of community desires:

The community envisions its ideal library as a centerpiece of the community both in terms of resources and services but also in aesthetic form and beauty that enriches all those that use it. Outside of a world-class collection of books, services, and technology and digital resources, the ideal library would be a vibrant community center focusing on both the community’s repository of information and training but also as the community’s hub for cultural exchange, self-empowerment, and civic activity. This library would emphasize user-centered design in all that it does and make use of pervasive user needs assessment, data mining, and use of big data to ensure it is well aligned and continuously improves in an agile, relevant, and efficient fashion. This library would also have seamless services throughout thecounty and reach out to those who traditionally face major barriers such as transportation, illiteracy, and poverty.

In the needs assessment, page 29 (PDF page number) states the following from the STAFF focus group:

Their ideal library would be open and airy with room to expand, multi-purpose, flexible, and with lots of functional community space. It also would have more staff areas, accessible parking, and lots of play areas for children (by a park). It would also have a nice meeting room (where the temperature control works!), especially after hours. Lots of display areas for art, strong cooperation between community, and accessible public transportation.

Given that the Carrboro Aldermen have expressed a preference for siting a new Southern branch of the County Library at 120 Brewer Lane, in the heart of downtown Carrboro, it will be interesting to hear what the County staff and BOCC thinks this plan is telling us about site selection for the Southern Orange County library branch.




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