Library plans to meet the needs of tech-savvy patrons

SYCAMORE – A strategic planning consultant is helping the staff and board of the Sycamore Public Library clarify the library’s vision and focus on service improvements.

“Libraries are on a precipice,” library director Sarah Tobias said. “Where we go from here is a great challenge and requires a bit of searching the crystal ball. Quickly changing technology and the want-it-now mentality of society are two of the issues that impact the library’s ability to stay relevant and beneficial.”

In addition to changing technology, patrons still visit the library to borrow books, which now come in several formats.

Ten years ago, the library purchased one or two copies of a popular title, and occasionally purchased the book on tape or CD, for a total cost of $150 to $175 per title – $25 per copy, plus $100 to $125 for the audio book.

When purchasing popular titles today, the library buys at least two physical copies in English and one in Spanish, one large-print copy ($30), the book on CD ($50-$100), at least one electronic copy ($45 to $95), the electronic audio book ($65 to $100), and a DVD if the book was made into a movie ($15 to $30) – a total of at least $350 per title.

These changes require library staff to make hard decisions about what the library offers and where to put all of the items so they are easy to access. The library also offers the community materials like magazines, music and movies, all of which are also available in multiple formats. The library also needs to address the want-it-now mindset of modern society.

As it develops its strategic plan, the library will look at what other libraries are doing that makes them great and what the community wants and needs from its public library, and will analyze its own processes and clarify its mission.

Once the plan is complete, the library will have a plan and a template for change and can use general operating funds to stay on track within its mission and vision. New and current programs will be analyzed to determine if they fit within that mission and goals.

For more information, call 815-895-2500 ext. 28 or email jilld.syclib@gmail.com. Funds to hire the planning consultant came from a grant by the Roberts Family Foundation.