GCPL met with groups throughout the county to learn what they want from their library.

Strategic planning: What Geauga citizens desire from a library

Geauga County Public Library embarked on a formal strategic planning process late last year. Since then, we’ve been reaching out to the communities throughout Geauga County, gathering citizens’ ideas and dreams for what they’d like their library to provide. The results of our “ask exercises” and “community conversations” are inspiring, showing a strong desire for their library to be a hub of activity and idea generation. Of course, many people also expressed an interest that GCPL continues to provide a robust collection of books and other materials.

I’d like to share some of the comments that are representative of the larger community. You’ll notice a few interesting threads. One is that many people want the same or similar things from GCPL (increased access to resources, technology and programming, for example). The other is the diversity of wants. Some people prefer preserving a small-town feeling, while others want more diversity and technology.  Balancing these needs is a challenge for the entire community. It’s empowering that the library is a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

GCPL Director Ed Worso and GCPL Board President Kate Pitrone

As we draw tactical plans to help plan our long-term aspirations for our county and the library’s role in it, we are keeping in mind what we’ve learned from our many conversations with community members. Following is a snapshot of what we learned.

From a Bainbridge conversation:

  • I’d like to see more outreach for homebound, collaboration/partnerships including meals on wheels, AARP, Kenston Community Education and with the home owners association.
  • The library should be a place for lifelong learning.
  • I’d like more discussion group opportunities and to be more tech-oriented.

From a Chardon conversation:

  • We need more discussions about heath care, mental health, aging at home and information and resources for people who live in poverty. The library can help in all these areas.
  • The library should be an information clearing house for various agencies. Work to break silos of various organizations all doing their own thing. The library could be an access point for everyone to find out the good work being done by different groups.
  • There are a lot of homeschooling families in Geauga. It would be good for the library to offer special programming and resources for these people.

From a Geauga West conversation:

  • The library can be the center hub – offering educational programs, holding events that can bring the community together, providing for the needy.
  • The library should promote a feeling of small-town or rural America.
  • The library is keeping up with changing times and helps my budget by having free movies/games (fun stuff) and resources to help me plan travel/trips on a budget. You could draw in 20-somethings with classes.

From a Middlefield conversation:

  • The library should stay connected with businesses, people, schools, family and community.  Offer new technology because some families cannot have or purchase technology items and services.
  • Support the school district and working with community and businesses to encourage learning.
  • Offer more accessibility with more community involvement like Amish Programs.

From a Newbury conversation:

  • The library is a community center of sorts. It offers wonderful programs for people of all ages. Maybe if it had the resources to transportation, it could offer trips.
  • I would like to see more of the library building used for bigger meetings.
  • Information availability. We should be able to find pro and con arguments on any topic.
  • Inspiring change, acquiring knowledge of new things and the world around us.
  • Promote small-town feeling. We live here to avoid the urban world.

From a Thompson conversation:

  • A new building is an excellent opportunity to spearhead some of the changes and lead collaborations with different groups including the parks. We need activities for all community members and ages, interests. Partner with organizations.
  • Host different community meetings and offer varied resources.
  • Offer programs like wine tasting, painting classes, more book clubs, language, cooking, sewing classes and more at the library.