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Teton County Library Strategic Plan Provides Powerful Decision-Making Tool

By Rebecca Huntington, Communications Manager
Teton County Library

No doubt about it. Change is occurring at a fast and furious pace in public libraries, especially in Wyoming.  Pressure to change comes from a mash-up of directions: the economy (local and national), population ebbs and flows, space needs, community needs, budgets, staffing challenges, and technology. How do public libraries effectively, efficiently, and transparently embrace change?

Teton County Library tackled change by developing a community-driven and action-oriented strategic plan. The 2017-2021 Teton County Library Strategic Plan provides a blueprint for the future.

Shortly after the Teton County Library Board welcomed new Library Director Valerie Maginnis at the end of 2015, the Board set an ambitious schedule to complete a strategic plan. The Board set the critical requirement of having a new plan in place by the end of 2016 so that it would inform annual budget planning, which begins in January.

The Teton County Library Foundation Board provided critical financial support, allowing planning to begin, in earnest, in May 2016. Foundation funding allowed the library to hire consultant Susan Eriksen-Meier, who is adept in strategic planning and has in-depth knowledge of the community and stakeholders.

The Library Board set a goal that planning be: community driven, transparent, inclusive, and data driven. To fulfill this charge, a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) formed to provide oversight and act as a conduit for input from the community, staff, stakeholders, and county elected officials. TAG members included the library staff, Library Board, Library Foundation and Library Friends.

Community & Data Driven
Not your average process, the TAG, library staff, the Library Board, the consultant, and community partners worked diligently through the summer to glean information and insights through:

  • Community Survey with 1,088 Responses, 228 in Spanish
  • Internal Staff Housing Survey with 44 Responses
  • Youth Services Survey with 70 Responses
  • 3 Community Engagement Events
  • 2 Community Partner Meetings
  • 2 All-Staff Planning Sessions
  • 30 Responses to Internal Poll, Providing Feedback on Draft Statements
  • 20+ Hours of TAG Meetings
  • Three Assessments: Library Industry Trends, Local Demographics and Teton County Library Data

Transparent & Inclusive
Community partners emphasized that the library provides essential services to struggling community members, who rely on the library in a variety of ways. County residents asked for more access to the main and Alta Branch libraries. The community expressed a deep love of books and other non-digital materials, running counter to a downward trend nationally in circulation of these materials.

To keep the process transparent, survey results and assessments were made available to the public via the library’s strategic planning website. Community-wide input, combined with local and national data, provided the basis for developing strategic plan goals and objectives and staff-driven action items. Teton County’s approach placed staff in the driver’s seat to develop and design essential projects, initiatives, and activities to move forward as a proactive and responsive 21st-century library.  

The process allowed library staff to:

  • Define and affirm the importance and relevance of the library’s core/essential services
  • Assign library-wide action item priorities
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Develop a tool to evaluate the library’s progress

As a 21st-century library, Teton County Library affirms its role as a community center; its responsibility to provide expanded support for all types of literacy so that citizens are able to fully participate in their community; its responsibility to provide equal access to content in all formats; and a commitment to serve as an open forum for all points of view.

Becoming a 21st-Century Library
The profound level of change occurring in Teton County, combined with the library’s unique ability to serve its residents, drove the planning process. Through strategic planning, library staff and leadership chose to support community members’ ability to thrive, rather than define exactly what “thriving” looks like.

Library staff found that writing new vision and mission statements is hard work and the statements must be short. During one interactive, all-staff session, library staff discovered how lists and complicated language can compromise the effectiveness of mission and vision statements. Ultimately, the Library Board approved these new statements:

  • Vision: Your essential place to thrive in a changing world.
  • Mission: We connect you with resources, people and learning.

What the library’s new vision and mission convey to the community:

  • The library is here for you.
  • We know we are much more than a building filled with books and spaces to meet. We embrace this.
  • The library will track and respond to our community’s evolving needs.
  • Our space is a critical aspect of who we are and what we do.
  • We are an essential member of the Teton County team.

Working with an experienced and committed consultant and a supportive Library Board, Foundation and Friends made it possible to complete strategic planning on a tightly scheduled deadline. In December 2016, the Library Board approved the new plan and then immediately began implementation by voting on a strategic action item to expand operating hours at the Alta Branch Library by 25 percent. Talk about responsive!

“We are thrilled to continue to concentrate our efforts and passion in providing the best possible 21st-century library service to the residents of Teton County,” said Library Director Valerie Maginnis.

Find the Strategic Plan website and plan here.

Contact Valerie Maginnis, director@tclib.org, for more information and to see planning and evaluation documents.

Trustee Corner: Your Board’s Relationship with Foundation and Friends

From the Wyoming Public Library Board Members’ Handbook

Donations can provide the extras, like this bookmobile in Cheyenne funded through the Laramie County Library Foundation.

The Library Board holds ultimate authority over what happens with the library system.The important thing to remember about your Friends of the Library group(s) or Library Foundation is that they are separate entities from the library with their own governance. The Library Board holds no authority over them, nor should you share with them any privileged information, such as patron records. Your Friends and Foundation might provide input, but they should not interfere with the governance or management of the library.

  • Friends of the Library
    Friends organizations are groups of citizens who join together to support, improve and promote the library. A Friends of the Library group can raise funds, sponsor specific projects, provide volunteers, advocate for the library, and serve as a visible presence of support in the community.
  • Library Foundations
    The primary distinction between a Friends of the Library group and a Library Foundation is that a Library Foundation has the single purpose of raising private funds to support special projects, endowments or building projects. Your Foundation is a legally established 501(c)3 entity.

Basic library services should be supported through public funding. Financial and volunteer help from your Foundation and Friends should enhance those services. It should not be a substitute for funding or staffing.

In a few counties, the Library Board will also serve as the Foundation Board. Where the Boards are separate, those serving on the Library Board should not also be voting members of the Friends or Foundation Boards. Ex-officio Board Liaisons are a good way to facilitate communication.

ARMA Spring Seminar: Surviving in Lean Times

Registration is underway for the Wyoming Chapter of Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) Annual Spring Seminar “Surviving in Lean Times:  Collaboration, Communication & Cooperation.” The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 14 at Laramie County Community College, 1400 College Dr., Cheyenne.

These are lean times in Wyoming — so when organizational budgets are slashed, how do you make sure your active and historical records continue to be a priority? The seminar will include a case study on how one company converted all their paper using only internal resources as well as a round table networking discussion bringing together speakers and seminar attendees.

Registration for the event is $40 for ARMA members, $25 for full-time students with valid identification, and $60 for non-ARMA members. Registration includes beverages, morning break, lunch, and an afternoon ice cream social.

Download the brochure.

For more information, contact Donna Crock at (307) 777-5751, donna.crock@wyo.gov, or Carolynn Coy at (307) 351-0965, wyarma@gmail.com.

Casper College Goodstein Library to Host “Living Library”

The Casper College Library will be hosting Wyoming’s first Living Library on Wednesday, February 22 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. as part of the 2017 Casper College Humanities Festival and Demorest Lecture.

Living Libraries, Human Libraries, or Living Book Libraries are all names for similar projects — libraries where instead of checking out a traditional book and reading its story, you borrow a person and have a conversation about their story.

The purpose of the Casper College Goodstein Foundation Library’s Living Library is to promote conversation, encourage understanding, and foster a culture of inclusion. Participants should expect to encounter perspectives they have never before considered, viewpoints different from their own, and life experiences that may challenge their own ways of thinking, all within a safe and positive atmosphere at the Casper College Library.

Wyoming State Library Closed Monday, February 20

The Wyoming State Library will be closed on Monday. Feb. 20 in honor of Presidents Day. We will re-open for our normal hours on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

President George Washington’s February 22 birthday was declared a federal holiday in 1879. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968 both set the holiday for the third Monday in February and designated it as a day to honor all American presidents, especially Washington and Abraham Lincoln (born February 12). The Gale Student Resources in Context database has a great article on the history of Presidents Day. (Login with library card number and PIN may be required.)

Image from the February 22, 1909, Laramie Republican in Wyoming Newspapers.

 

February 2017 People News

 

Maura Hadaway has been named Interim Associate Dean, Ludden Library and Learning Commons at Laramie County Community College. Maura joined the LCCC faculty in the Fall of 2015 as an Instructor in Computer Information Systems. Prior to that, Maura worked as a Licensing Program Account Manager for LYRASIS, as a project manager in the telecom industry and BCR, and even earlier as the Technical Services Technician at the LCCC Library.  She earned her MLIS from the University of Washington and BS in History from the University of Wyoming.

 

Sublette County Library System bid farewell to Big Piney Branch Manager Amy Cahill with a goodbye party on January 20. Amy worked for the library system almost seven years, and became the Big Piney manager in July 2015. During her time at Sublette County, she earned her MLS from San Jose State University’s online program. She is moving back to Bar Harbor, Maine.

 

Year-End Library Fundraising Starts Now

Read the full article on CauseVox

It’s only February, so who wants to think about year-end fundraising? If you’re raising money for your library, it’s not too soon. Fundraising is a continuous process, and your organization’s plan should reflect that. If you want your donors to put you on their holiday gift list, keep in touch with them throughout the year. CauseVox offers the following tips for things you can do now:

  • Educate your donors. Tell your library’s story. Let them know what their giving can accomplish.
  • Activate and engage. Give them opportunities to connect with your library through social media. Recruit them to volunteer.
  • Thank them. Thank donors promptly when they give. Make it personal — have a board member sign the letter or call. When you thank them, make THEM the hero. Tell them what they have accomplished with their gift.
  • Look for corporate sponsors. Many have started a new fiscal year and have the money in their budgets to give now.
  • Encourage matching gifts. Donors love seeing their dollars doubled. Encourage them to check with their employers. When you get a matching gift opportunity, publicize it.
  • Plan for #GivingTuesday. Nonprofits have started focusing on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a day to donate to favorite causes. Check out the website now for resources.

Lay the groundwork now, and see the benefits later when you send out your year-end appeal.

Shari Haskins Named Riverton Branch Library Manager

Shari Haskins was named as the new Riverton Branch Library Manager early this month, beginning her new role on Feb. 4. Formerly working at Riverton as Teen Lead Librarian/Adult Services, she began her 18th year with the Fremont County Library System in January. She takes the place of Gloria Brodle, who retired after 31 years.

She’s notorious for her high energy, matching that of the teen patrons she’s so passionate about. “I love how energetic they are and how open-minded they are,” she said. “They’re so willing to be open-minded and grateful for anything that appeals to them or any person that shows interest in them. Young people are always appreciative of that person.”

Haskins has a B.S. in K-12 Education from the University of Wyoming. When she moved to Riverton in 1992 for her husband’s job, Haskins was unable to find a full-time position in teaching. She did some substitute teaching and coaching until she saw an opening at the main library in Lander. It seemed a natural fit for her. Not finding any teen programs in place when she started, Haskins began developing them at Lander, and then continued when she moved to Riverton a year later.

Haskins has been an active member of the Wyoming Library Association. She joined when she started at Riverton. She did a few stints as the Children’s Teen Section chair then, when WLA changed its organization in its bylaws, became chair of the Youth Services Interest Group. This gave her the opportunity to participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program at the national level.

In terms of what direction she would like to see for the library, “I love this whole new philosophy of the user experience. As public libraries diversify and become the social hub of the community, the user experience is at the top of re-envisioning what libraries should be focusing on and looking forward to.”

 

Brodle Retires After 31 Years With Fremont County Library

After 31 years with the Fremont County Library System, Gloria Brodle has retired from her position as Riverton Branch Manager.

Brodle was an active member of the Wyoming Library Association and made many state-wide and national professional connections. Among her significant accomplishments was the successful effort to raise both awareness and funds for a much-needed update for the Riverton Library’s community room. Her efforts have made a lasting contribution to the library that its patrons will enjoy for years to come.

Interim FCLS Director Jeannette Woodward said Brodle’s sunny disposition was an asset to the library. “She could always deal with any crisis that came her way without losing her cool,” Woodward said, “and that inspired staff to do the same. I’ve met library patrons who marveled at her patience. Library staff members wondered whatever made them cheerfully volunteer to take on an extra assignment. I called it the ‘Gloria effect.'”

With Brodle’s departure, Shari Haskins has been named the new branch manager. “Gloria exemplified what it means to be an effective, positive manager and leader,” Haskins said. “She cared deeply about her staff and library users. Most importantly, Gloria kept her sense of humor and always came to work upbeat.”

The library celebrated Brodle’s service and wished her well in retirement with a reception at the library on Feb. 3.