Archived Story

Is the library expanding?

Published 8:23am Friday, June 15, 2012 Updated 12:27pm Friday, June 15, 2012

On June 21, the Fergus Falls Public Library Renewal Task Force, Library Board and library staff will be asking you to provide input on the future of our library.

Why are we doing this now? Does this mean the library is expanding? Good questions. Let me answer them for you here.

We are doing this now because past studies indicated the need for additional library space.

We are also doing this now because of technological change and because of identified changes in library customer’s service, programming and resource needs and desires.

What are some of those changes? Some of the changes have resulted in space related challenges for library staff and customers. For example, the number of programs the library offers and the attendance at those programs has been steadily increasing for a number of years, yet the library has just one programming space used by library staff and also rented by the general public. Competition for this space is fierce, as the library also has just two small study rooms, frequently reserved and in use, so collaborative space for larger groups is at a premium.

Library staff have also identified the need to offer additional technology training classes for our customers and use the meeting room to hold those classes due to the lack of a separate computer lab.

We use our mobile laptop lab and set-up and tear down after each class. Additional space challenges include a carved-out space for our collection of books for teens, a crowded children’s area and lack of sufficient shelving for books, dvds, audiobooks, etc.

Some changes are technological. The library has experienced an influx of customers who bring in their own computers and other devices to access the internet.

These customers often want to plug in their devices, but the number of outlets and available seating can make locating an outlet difficult.

In addition, the library has been offering downloadable books and audiobooks for just over a year and this small, but growing collection of approximately 2, 500 titles sees an average of 600 check-outs per month.

However, we also checked out over 222,000 print books, audio CDs and DVDs last year, an increase of over 2,000 items from the year prior, and are on track to exceed 2011 numbers this year.

So, does this mean the library is expanding? Not necessarily. The Library Renewal Task Force is taking a step back and taking a fresh look at library needs. The Task Force is gathering community and library staff input and researching community and library trends in order to help determine what the library’s needs are currently and in the future.

This information will then be used to help determine what the next steps are for the library, including any library building project. Your input in this process is valuable. We want to hear from you.

What would you like to see at the library? How do you use the library currently? How has the way you’ve used the library evolved or changed over the years?

On June 21, members of the Minnesota Library Futures Initiative will also help those in attendance glimpse the future so that we can effectively talk about how future demographic and societal trends might affect library services here in Fergus Falls.

Please join us for one of two community conversations on Public Libraries and the Future from 1:00-2:30p.m. at the YMCA Community Room or from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Otter Tail Power Community Room. I hope to see you there.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is attributed with saying “I don’t skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it is going to be.”

I have taken this quote to heart as the Library Board, Library Renewal Task Force and library staff and I work to preserve valued traditional library services while also meeting future needs.

 

Erin Smith, Library Director, Fergus Falls Public Library

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