The Cochrane Public Library (CPL) is armed with a three-year service plan to meet the needs of the community from 2024 to 26 while setting the course for the library of the future.
Informed by a patron satisfaction survey and numerous workshops involving residents, library staff, and its board, the 2024-26 plan addresses the challenges of increased demand for library services while working within an undersized facility.
The service plan lays out many objectives organized under the subtitles of inclusivity, collaboration, and communications
"This plan of service is to see us through from 2024 to 2026," explains CPL director Monique Fiedler-Sills. "So it's about all the things the library is going to accomplish based on all of the feedback we received from our residents."
The development of the service plan was made possible through funding from the federal government's Community Services Recovery Fund.
“We were extremely fortunate and grateful to have received funding from the CSRF to hire the facilitator who led the needs assessment workshops to develop our plan," says Fiedler-Sills.
The library has outgrown it's space
Included is the step of securing funding for a facility needs assessment by 2025. In 2026, the aim is to conduct the assessment and complete a preliminary design for a new facility. They've been at their current location, the Nan Boothby Memorial Library, 405 Railway St. W., for 23 years.
Since going fee and fine-free in January, visits are up by 23 per cent, circulation 13 per cent, and program participation by a whopping 54 per cent.
"We've definitely run out of space in our facility, and that's one of the biggest pieces of feedback we get from our residents is that they love the library, but there's a lot of competing needs," she says. "Some people need quiet space, some people need program space, and those two things are hard to meld together."
Through the assessment, they will be looking to Cochrane area residents for what they want to be included in the library. To make that possible, they need to secure funding and have included it in their 2024 budget request from the town.
"We're willing to do all the work and get the ball rolling, but we just need a little bit of support."
Amazing lineup of fall and winter programming
Fielder-Sills says they have an amazing program team and a wonderful lineup for the fall and winter.
"We've had a number of large-scale events already but some of the stuff coming up includes a lot of interesting fireside chats, we're going to have Stepping Stones for Mental Health coming in, and we have also some local authors that you can come and see."
Then there's the Hebocon Crappy Robots Battles program that starts tomorrow (Nov. 8). It's for children ages 10 to 14.
"They can register to participate in that and create what is called a Crappy Robot to battle other Crappy Robots in the library. So, getting a little STEM in there, but lots of fun; that's what we're about."
Through the course of the program, participants will build their own robot with the parts provided, and it eventually cumulates over in a battle against the other robots to find out not only who comes out on top, but which one is technically the worst,
"It's going to be really interesting to see how creative they can be, but we're always astonished with what our tweets are able to do."
For those who haven't been to a library lately, you may want to drop by to enjoy it's free services. It's not just about borrowing books; hasn't been for some time.
"One of the things we often hear from people who don't use our services is 'I'm not a big reader,' and that is fine because we offer so much more. We have a really fabulous collection of library things and I owe all credit to the former staff and former management for that. We have ladders, snow shoes, life jackets, garden tools, and power tools. There are things that we have at the library that you would not find in a lot of comparable libraries in the area. Not to mention like we have free programming."
She says it's a great place for new residents looking to connect with the community.
"I see a lot of people new to Cochrane looking to make friends, looking to make connections. That's where the library comes in. We're fabulous at that. We are free. We are open to all and you can take advantage of us, whether you're a cardholder or not.
They also have a slew of e-resources, whether it's to assist with studies or leisure.
Most recently, they've launched a film streaming service called Kanopy for their members that offers unlimited use.
"So if you are finding that with all the password sharing crackdowns that are happening at Netflix and Disney Plus, and you need to cancel one of those, come to the library, get your free card, and take advantage of what we have."
New patron survey launched
The library intends to continue collecting feedback from the community on an ongoing basis. Last November they conducted a patron satisfaction survey and a new one was launched on Nov. 1. You can find the online version here or complete it at the library.
"So you can pop onto our website online and fill it out," she says. "It's very quick. It's about five minutes and there are prizes if you do it. You can also pop into the library if you prefer to do things on hard copy."
Input is being accepted until the end of the month.
You can stay current with happenings at the library here.
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