When I came on board (just two years ago), the place was like a ship on storm-tossed waters. The atmosphere in the public areas felt like free-for-all-free-fall. There didn't seem to be alot of procedures or limits on what we were able to realistically offer to our public so we did alot of everything - but often without focus. Over time, we used technology to ease our way; re-examined and re-thought our services and collections and began to shift our focus in a way that helps us manage the physical space to make it inviting and a little more sane. Changes big and small are now suggested all the time by our able crew and we make progress each month in making a great space better.
Lately I have asked my colleagues to step up the pace of change. They have really gotten on board and we are creating some exciting changes on our ship.
- Creating hands-on pre-literacy activity areas for preschoolers around the department
- Launching an initiative to encourage parents to read at least 1000 books to their preschoolers before kindergarten
- Reducing in-house programs for school-agers and doing more outreach programs to that age group.
- Increasing the number of outreach visits at literacy fairs, school parent nights and other venues where parents gather while reducing the frequency of preschool outreach visits slightly to accomodate offering services to a wider age range.
- Creating "field trip adventures" rather than tours that make a class trip to the library the best visit in town. The content is specially targeted to specific age levels of the kids.
- Networking and creating more partnerships with our schools and community organizations to create great programs and services
- Streamlining our workflow to create more opportunities for creative thinking and idea generation.
- Revamping our summer reading program to create a simpler experience and one that recognizes that libraries are more than just reading - they are about checking out materials; attending free programs; and a place for support of writing and other literacy activities.
- Re-imaginging and remodeling our physical space to remove a much-beloved but non-ADA compliant and unsafe boat facade and replacing it with a homage to our beautiful Mississippi River and bluff country.
I am lucky to be working with willing colleagues who are brave enough to step up to a change (or twenty) in course. It might be awhile before we hit calm water but the crew is ready to play. I hope to blog a little more in-depth about some of our initiatives over the next few months - although I have been quiet lately and don't know if this is one of those empty promises! And I'll share the reactions of our public as we sail between the shoals of change. It is a good time to be aboard!
Image: 'Ship' http://www.flickr.com/photos/31805905@N00/35838005