Seekonk Public Library Long-range Plan
Fiscal Years 2014 through 2017
Strategic or Long-range planning has been an integral part of the operation of the Seekonk Public Library since 1996 when the Board of Library Trustees approved the first strategic plan. In 2003, the library developed a long-range plan, which covered the years 2004 through 2008. In 2007, the library extended this plan to cover the years 2007 to 2010. Unforeseen circumstances delayed the revision of the plan, but in the spring of 2012, a firm commitment was made to produce a new long-range plan. The following is the result of that yearlong effort.
Many people contributed to the writing of this plan, including the Board of Library Trustees, library staff, and members of the Strategic Planning Committee. Each group played an important role in the development of this plan, and their contributions are greatly appreciated. The library trustees initiated this process and drafted the initial vision statement. The members of the Strategic Planning Committee provided great insights into the needs of the community and how the library might best satisfy them. Library consultant Sunny Vandermark provided important guidance and leadership early in the process as discussion facilitator. Debra Hoadley, a library consultant with the Massachusetts Library System was extremely helpful as an advisor, discussion facilitator, and reviewer. David Borges from the UMass-Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis gave the library invaluable advice on the design of the survey.
The library employed an expedited version of the ALA Planning for Results process, which had been developed by consultants at the Massachusetts Library System (MLS). The trustees also engaged Sunny Vandermark as a planning consultant. She led the trustees’ initial planning meeting at which the library mission statement was drafted. A planning committee of thirteen people was recruited. The Committee was broadly representative of various segments of the entire service area as well as key constituent groups of the library. Sunny Vandermark led the committee at their first meeting through a SOAR exercise and a discussion of the proposed mission statement. Debra Hoadley led the committee at its second meeting through a Visioning exercise, and a discussion of community and institutional values as a prelude to the formulation of library goals. Information gleaned from these exercises confirmed trends identified from the collected data. More importantly, the exercises and subsequent discussions about community values and aspirations lead directly to the formulation of the goals and strategic objectives in the plan.
The planning process was informed by research and analysis provided by the library staff. The staff collected an extensive amount of information from a variety of sources including the Town of Seekonk Planning Department, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. These were synthesized into a series of PowerPoint presentations for the planning committee. These presentations provided an overview of library operations, a profile of the community, and an analysis of users and patterns of library use.
The process was also informed by a survey of Seekonk voters, and a focus group conducted at Seekonk High School. The Center for Policy Analysis at UMass-Dartmouth assisted the library in developing two surveys; one targeted library users and the other targeted non-users. These surveys were administered on Election Day, November 5, 2012. The library received responses from 972 self-identified library users and 320 non-users. The compiled results and analysis are also available on the library’s website.
Summary of Service Needs
Seekonk is largely a residential community which has retained much of its original rural character. Seekonk also has a large commercial district along U.S. Route 6, along which many national retail and restaurant chains are represented. Seekonk is relatively small, being just 18.3 square miles. Its land area is in the shape of a long rectangle that is only two miles wide at its narrowest point. This unusual geography links the town’s two centers of population, one in the north and the other in the south. The library is situated approximately in the middle of these two centers.
The current population of Seekonk is about 13,800. The town’s population has grown at a relatively slow rate since 2000. The median age and median family income in Seekonk is slightly higher than the state average. Like many communities in the Commonwealth, the percentage of the population that is over fifty years of age is growing at a faster rate than other segments of the population. This trend is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future. Survey data as well as demographic data suggest that this population is both physically and intellectually active and socially engaged. The number of persons in the age range of twenty to forty years declined in the past decade and it is predicted to continue to decline. This is a key demographic group that the library will need to make a special effort to reach in the future. Public school enrollment has decreased slightly but basically has remained relatively stable over the past two decades. A slight increase in middle school population is predicted to occur in the short term, however. The shifting demographics will cause the library to place greater emphasis on serving the needs of older residents.
Town finances in Seekonk are relatively stable and the town enjoys a high bond rating. The community provides an above average level of support for library services, both in terms of the town appropriation and support of private fundraising efforts by the Friends of the Library and Seekonk Library Trust. The Planning Committee anticipates that this support will continue through the entire duration of the plan.
Seekonk Public Library serves primarily the people of Seekonk, but roughly four percent of registered borrowers are from other Massachusetts cities and towns, and approximately two hundred users are from neighboring Rhode Island. The library has approximately 8,600 registered borrowers. Approximately sixty-five percent of these card holders are adults. The remaining thirty-five percent are persons under the age of eighteen. Approximately 4,000 have used their cards in the past year. The disparity in the numbers of registered borrowers and regular users indicates an opportunity for the library to significantly expand its user base. The probability of success appears to be enhanced by a generally favorable attitude towards libraries that has been reported by the Pew Research Center and elsewhere. Data from a survey conducted by this library confirms that Seekonk residents share this positive attitude toward their own library. Data from the Election Day survey in November 2012 also revealed that library users were highly satisfied with the quality of the service they receive at the library.
Other data from that survey indicated that library users were far more diverse in terms of age, gender and place of residence than indicated by previous surveys with much smaller samples. These users tend to take advantage of a wide variety of services. Readers report, for example, that they will borrow printed books, recorded books, and download e-books. Borrowing materials remains the most frequently cited reason for using the library. Obtaining downloadable reading or listening materials is not currently a significant reason for using the library. Survey data on the type of electronic devices owned by those surveyed indicates that Seekonk residents are relatively sophisticated users of technology. Library users, however, are more likely than non-users to own this technology. It was somewhat paradoxical, therefore, to find that these savvy consumers of technology also value highly the instruction and training provided by the library in using computers and electronic devices. This would seem to indicate an on-going need for services that help the public use this emerging technology.
A comparison of data from surveys taken in 2003, 2009 and 2012 reveals that using computers, attending programs, and obtaining information as reasons for using the library are declining in popularity overall. There appears to be some variability, however, among various age groups in ranking the importance of these services. This information will be employed to target services to specific user groups.
Data collected from non-users on Election Day indicated that a majority still had an interest in using the library. The survey responses indicated that the hours of operation and travel distance to the library are not significant obstacles to their use the library. The survey data identified two major impediments to library use; a lack of time and a lack of information about library services. These results are also consistent with data collected by the Pew Center. The library will need to redouble its efforts to provide information about its services.
Planning exercises and discussions conducted with the Board of Library Trustees and the Strategic Planning Committee helped to identify other, broader community needs. Broadly speaking, there is a desire for the library to serve as a community center. It was recognized that the library required more inviting social spaces for people to interact, more display space, more space for small groups to meet and collaborate, and a better connection between the interior spaces and the Seekonk Meadows. In particular, a need for more recreational opportunities was cited by the planning committee. This desire to be a community center transcends particular spaces within the library, however. The library needs to serve as a nexus for groups and individuals to share and develop their common interests. The committee cited a particular need to foster personal expression of creativity by encouraging participation in the visual and performing arts, and making available new technologies for innovation and creation.
The Board of Trustees of the Seekonk Public Library voted unanimously at their meeting on May 15, 2013 to adopt this plan and to submit it to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for their approval.
The mission of the Seekonk Public Library is to enrich lives by fostering lifelong learning and by ensuring every member of the community has access to a vast array of ideas and information.
The following principles guided the Strategic Planning Committee and library staff in the formulation of the goals and objectives contained within this plan. The Seekonk Public Library will:
► Recognize the diverse needs and interests within our community,
► Respond promptly and creatively to address the community’s service needs,
► Create a welcoming and respectful environment where all users may enjoy library services,
► Support the cultural and artistic endeavors of community members,
► Promote partnerships and collaborations among community groups,
► Promote democracy and informed participation in civic engagement,
► Protect the intellectual freedom of our users, and improve their access to information,
► Strive to be innovative and to anticipate changes in technology and library service,
► Remain accountable to the people we serve,
► Use all of its resources effectively and efficiently.
I. Service Goals
I-A. Library users will consistently enjoy positive customer experiences that encourage them to be confident, capable and discriminating users of the library as well as other information resources.
I-B. Students of all ages will receive services and have access to materials that they need to realize their full intellectual potential.
I-C. Library users will receive services and have access to materials that enhance their capacity to imagine and create.
I-D. Library users will receive services and have access to materials that allow them to master the life skills needed to be successful in the areas of their choosing.
II. Technology Goals
II-A. Library users will use 21st century technology more effectively and efficiently.
III. Outreach Goals
III-A. All library users will have better access to information resources available within the community.
III-B. Senior citizens will be provided information and services designed to meet their special needs.
III-C. Community organizations whose goals complement those of the library will receive support that will improve their effectiveness.
III-D. The community will be provided a venue for personal interaction that encourages the creation of new and distinctive interest groups.
III-E. The community will be provided new opportunities to use and explore Seekonk’s natural spaces.
IV. Resource Goals
IV-A. The library will develop a secure financial base for library operations utilizing a combination of public financing and private fund raising.
IV-B. The Library will provide users with an accessible, secure and comfortable facility.
Service Goal I-A. Library users will consistently enjoy positive customer experiences that encourage them to be confident, capable and discriminating users of the library and other sources of information.
Objective I-A-1. Library users will receive superior levels of customer service.
(a) Target Outcome: By January 2014, the library will establish standards for customer service.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will conduct annually at least one survey of users to assess their satisfaction with the service.
(c) Target Output Level: By June 2017, at least seventy-five percent of all registered borrowers will have used their library card in the past twelve months.
Objective I-A-2. Library users will have opportunities to comment on library services, make suggestions for changes, and report other service issues.
(a) Target Output Level: By June 2017, the library will have collected feedback through its website from at least five hundred users.
Objective I-A-3. Library users will receive services that are designed and developed based on comprehensive assessment of their needs.
(a) Target Outcome: Beginning in fiscal year 2014, the Library will conduct annually an evaluation of the effectiveness of services offered in the previous year.
(b) Target Outcome: Beginning in fiscal year 2014, the library will annually update the needs assessments prepared for this plan.
Objective I-A-4. Library users will be able to easily locate materials and services within the building.
(a) Target Outcome: By June 2014, the library staff will report on issues that affect users of the building, and recommend ways to improve usability.
(b) Target Outcome: By June 2016, the library will complete the implementation of the recommendations made to meet the outcome above.
(c) Target Outcome: By June 2016, a consultant will report on accessibility issues in the building, and recommend ways to address them.
d. Target Outcome: By June 2017, the library will complete implementation of all the recommendations in the consultant’s report.
Objective I-A-5. Library users will have access to helpful technical support when they attempt to access library resources on-line from either within or outside the library building.
(a) Target Outcome: Beginning in July 2014, trained technical support people will be scheduled for all of the hours that the library is open.
Service Goal I-B. Students of all ages will receive services and have access to materials that they need to realize their full intellectual potential.
Objective I-B-1. Library users will have access to both individual and group instruction in the use of on-line resources provided by the library.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will offer at least twice annually age-appropriate group instruction for post-secondary, high school and middle school students in the use of the library and on-line resources.
Objective I-B-2. Students and teachers in Seekonk public schools will have improved access to materials needed to support their curriculum.
(a) Target Outcome: Each teacher in the Seekonk Public School system will twice annually receive information about library services designed to support teachers and students.
Objective I-B-3. Parents and caregivers will have better access to resources to assist their children read better and have success in school.
(a) Target Output Measure: By June 2017, total attendance at library storyhours and similar programs will place Seekonk in the ninetieth percentile among libraries in similar size communities.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will produce annually at least one program where parents and other caregivers receive information on developing reading skills.
Service Goal I-C. Library users will receive services and have access to materials that enhance their capacity to imagine and create.
Objective I-C-1. Library users of all ages will be provided with opportunities to experience and engage in a variety of forms of artistic expression.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will offer annually at least two programs for children, teens and adults that encourage their participation in the visual and performing arts.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will produce annually at least three outdoor music concerts.
Objective I-C-2. Library users will have access to hardware and software that assists users in designing and creating.
(a) Target Outcome: By June 2014, the library will open its Technology Innovation Center.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will maintain a catalog of all projects created in the innovation center.
Objective I-C-3. Library users will have better access to the work of local artists, writers, performers and crafts people.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will produce twice annually exhibitions for local visual artists and crafts people.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will produce an annual exhibit of art work created by students in Seekonk public schools.
Objective I-C-4. Young people will have opportunities to attend performances that will encourage further exploration of their world and pursuit of new interests.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will produce annually at least one program in the natural sciences that is appropriate for each of the following age groups, elementary, middle school and high school students.
Service Goal 1-D. Library users will receive services and have access to materials that allow them to master the life skills needed to be successful in the areas of their choosing.
Objective I-D-1. The library will implement a collection development strategy that will emphasize meeting user demand and increasing access to electronic resources.
(a) Target Outcome: By June 2014, library staff will revise the library’s collection development policy.
(b) Target Output Level: By June 2017, the library’s total annual circulation will exceed 300,000 items.
(c) Target Output Level: By June 2017, the total circulation of electronic items will constitute seven percent of the library’s total circulation.
Objective I-D-2. Library users will have improved access to reliable information through a variety of in-house and off-site sources.
(a) Target Output Level: Use of library databases will increase by five percent each year.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will build on the Dollars & Sense grant program by offering annually at least two informational programs on the subject of managing personal finances.
Objective I-D-3. Families will be provided services and programs that engage all family members in a shared library experience.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will produce annually at least ten programs whose target audience is families with young children.
(b) Target Outcome: The library will produce annually at least one “child care fair” at which parents and caregivers can receive information about pre-schools and other agencies that provide services for children.
Objective I-D-4. Teens will have access to a wider array of services designed to meet their specific needs.
(a) Target Output Level: By June 2014, the library will form a service advisory board comprised of teenagers in Seekonk.
(b) Target Outcome: By June 2017, the total annual circulation of young adult materials will constitute three percent of the library’s total circulation.
Technology Goal II-A Library users will use 21st Century technology more effectively and efficiently.
Objective II-A-1. Library users will have access to current information technology.
(a) Target Outcome: By January 2014, the library will submit to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) an updated technology plan.
Objective II-A-2. All library staff members will attain a minimal level of technical proficiency.
(a) Target Outcome: By June 2014, the library will adopt minimal standards for technical proficiency for each library job classification.
(b) Target Output Level: By June 2017, all library personnel will achieve the established levels of minimum technical proficiency.
Objective II-A-3. Library users of all ages will receive consistent and effective instruction in using the library and other information technologies.
(a) Target Output Level: A least one hundred and fifty people will annually receive personal instruction in using their devices to download electronic materials.
(b) Target Output Level: A least one hundred and fifty people will annually receive training through the library’s computer classes.
Objective II-A-4. Library users will receive assistance in evaluating and applying emergent technologies.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will produce annually at least one “technology fair” at which consumers can obtain information about new information technologies.
(b) Target Output Level: By June 2017, twenty-five percent of library card holders will be registered with OverDrive, Freegal or other similar services offered through the library.
Objective II-A-5. Public resources will be used more effectively through the increased use of library automation.
(a) Target Output Level: By June 2017, seventy-five percent of the library’s total annual circulation will be done through self-check-out.
(b) Target Output Level: By June 2017, patron-placed reserves will account for sixty percent of the total reserves placed on library materials.
Objective I-A-6. Emerging and pre-emergent readers will be provided access to technologies designed to strengthen their ability to read.
(a) Target Output Level: The number of logons to the accelerated reader reporting service will increase by ten percent in each year of the plan.
(b) Target Output Level: Use of the early literacy workstation will increase by ten percent in each year of the plan.
Outreach Goal III-A. Library users will have better access to information resources available within the community.
Objective III-A-1. New residents will receive informational material on the library and other town services.
(a) Target Output Level: Registration of new borrowers will increase by five percent in each year of the plan.
Objective III-A-2. Library users will have access to local individuals and groups who are willing to share special knowledge or expertise.
(a) Target Output Level: Beginning in July 2014, the library will make at least fifty referrals annually to local authorities in the “Checkout an Expert” program.
Objective III-A-3. Library users will have improved access to information about local services providers.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will host annually at least one “public service fair” at which the public can learn of services provided through local organizations and town agencies.
Objective III-A-4. The public will have better access to town documents and other local publications.
(a) Target Outcome: By July 2015, the library will become a depository for public documents produced by local government agencies.
Outreach Goal III-B. Senior citizens will be provided information and services designed to meet their special needs.
Objective III-B-1. Older residents of Seekonk will have access to library services through the Seekonk Senior Center and other locations outside the library.
(a) Target Output Level: By July 2014, the library will maintain an annual enrollment of at least twenty-five people in the home delivery service. .
(b) Target Outcome: Starting in July 2014, the library will present annually at least one program at the Seekonk Senior Center.
(c) Target Outcome: By January 2014, the library will develop an advisory panel of senior citizens to receive feedback on how the library’s services to seniors can be improved.
Outreach Goal III-C. The library will provide support to organizations in the community whose goals complement those of the library.
Objective III-C-1. The library will create partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and town agencies in order to increase their capabilities to serve the community.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will provide annually at least one training session for local nonprofit organizations and town agencies on developing and improving their organization’s website.
(b) Target Output Level: By July 2015, the library will double the number of web links to local organizations that are currently on the library’s website.
Outreach Goal III-D. The library will provide the community with a venue for personal interaction that will encourage the creation of local interest groups.
Objectives III-D-1. Community members will be able to attend programs at which a variety of public issues are discussed.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will host annually at least one public forum at which voters can discuss local issues.
Objective III-D-2. Library users will have new opportunities to connect with others with similar interests by using the library’s social media platforms and email newsletter.
(a) Target Output Level: By June 2017, the library will be able to reach at least ten percent of library users through various social media tools. .
(b) Target Output Level: By June 2017, seventy-five percent of the recipients will open the library’s monthly email newsletter.
Outreach Goal III-E. The library will provide the community with new opportunities to use and explore Seekonk’s natural spaces.
Objective III-E-1. The library will produce programs that encourage the use of the Seekonk Meadows for recreational activities.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will offer annually at least two programs about activities that are compatible with the passive recreational purposes of the Seekonk Meadows.
Resource Goal IV-A. The library will develop a secure financial base for library operations utilizing a combination of public financing and private fund raising.
Objective IV-A-1. The library will continue to promote and support the Friends of the Library, and the Seekonk Library Trust.
(a) Target Outcome: By January 2014, a shared donor database will be available that can be used and maintained by all three organizations.
(b) The library will host annually a joint meeting of the Board of the Friends of the Library, the Board of Library Trustees, and the Trustees of the Library Trust to discuss library needs and fundraising strategies.
Objective IV-A-2. The library will continue to enhance its staff’s capabilities by operating an active volunteer program.
(a) Target Outcome: The library will host annually at least one volunteer appreciation event.
(b) Target Output Level: By June 2017, the library will increase the total number of library volunteers by ten percent.
Resource Goal IV-B. The library will provide users with an accessible, secure and comfortable facility.
Objective IV-B-1. The library building will be remodeled, renovated and expanded to accommodate existing and anticipated services.
(a) Target Outcome: By January 2014, the library will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the community’s current and projected library needs and the space required to provide those services.
(b) Target Outcome: By January 2014, the library will prepare and submit a facilities planning grant application to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) to fund a building improvement feasibility study.
(c) Target Outcome: By January 2016, the library will prepare and submit to the MBLC a construction grant application.
The Seekonk Public Library gratefully acknowledges the efforts of the Strategic Planning Committee who developed the Goals and Objectives found in this plan. The members were recruited to reflect the broad spectrum of citizens who call Seekonk their home.
Jennifer St. Michel
Debra Hoadley, Library Advisor. Massachusetts Library System
Sondra Vandermark, Library Planning & Management Consultant
Peter Fuller, Library Director
Cynthia Marcoux, Associate Director
Marge Bradley, Supervisor (Customer Services)
Sharon Clarke, Staff Librarian (Youth Services)
Michelle Gario, Sr. Librarian (Adult Services)
Mary Ellen Siniak, Sr. Librarian (Youth Services)
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