Calvert Library Completes 3-Year Strategic Plan

By Sarah Miller, Calvert County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md.—Calvert Library recently completed a comprehensive study of services offered, community needs and resource utilization to create a comprehensive strategic plan for the next three years.

The strategic planning process began in March of 2015. From the start it was designed to be inclusive and engaging, said Calvert Library Director Carrie Plymire.

According to Public Relations Coordinator Robyn Truslow, three community areas of interest emerged during the community survey – health, finance, and community service.

“People want to be involved in the community and they want to make a difference,” Truslow said.

Organizational Management and Change Consulting Specialist Marisa Sanchez donated more than 70 hours to interview all branch managers and coordinators and conduct focus groups with staff at each branch and the Board of Library Trustees, Plymire said.

Staff and leaders had opportunities to voice their assessment of the current state of the library and to articulate ideas for further direction. In addition, approximately 60 percent of the staff participated in one of five teams formed to collect additional data, Plymire said.

In addition to community focus groups, library employees were involved in a number of teams to collect data about the Calvert County population and current library usage. The Customer Survey Team administered a survey to over 1,000 existing and potential customers to understand customer needs. The Focus Group Team conducted 11 focus groups reaching well over 100 individuals to understand community needs. The Benchmarking Team explored trends in comparable public libraries. The Program Inventory Team evaluated existing library programs based on impact and viability.

Moving forward, the library will be evaluating at all programs offered and finding places to trim in order to make way for new programs and fill the service gaps.

The library will be researching ways to embed librarians within the community in an outreach capacity, Truslow said.

In locations researched during the development process, libraries were found that lend librarians to tourism and economic departments, or that spend time at community centers and health departments doing storytimes. One of the more successful outreach programs has librarians go into the women’s detention center and work with mothers to learn how to read to their children. Mothers record themselves reading a book and send the recording and a copy of the book to their children, Truslow said.

One way the library intends to fill gaps moving forward is by partnering with schools, the local government and businesses to raise awareness and offer additional programming. The library will continue to utilize volunteers to support libraries by teaching programs and free up time for librarians to spend more time with customers.

One of the most pressing service gaps identified during the study was the lack of services to teens. Other libraries have teen centers, Plymire said, and in coming months, the library will try to find ways to offer a safe place for teens to socialize and be creative without the structure of a formal program.

“None of the libraries have a place for teens that are safe, creative, chaotic, and loud,” Plymire said, adding that that is the kind of place teens want.

According to information from Calvert Library, “The strategic plan will serve as Calvert Library’s organization roadmap for FY16-FY18. Each year, the library will create an annual plan outlining the services, programs and events that will aid us in accomplishing our strategic goals and objectives. These will be prioritized based on importance and resource availability. The director will monitor the progress of the plan and provide the library board with a progress report every six months. The success of the plan will be measured by increases in the transactions associated with the goals and by the positive outcomes resulting from our role in the community as we inspire possibility.”

One of the goals in the plan was to beef up the virtual branch of the library, Plymire said, and strides are already being made to fulfill that goal. The library recently added two platforms to allow patrons to access movies, music, audiobooks, and more – Hoopla and One Click Digital.

The library’s goal is to support the community, Plymire said, and the strategic plan will be evaluated regularly to ensure it remains relevant.

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