Contra Costa County Library has been in the process of updating its Strategic Plan.
We recently completed the "community input" segment of the update, hosting town hall meetings in Discovery Bay, Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley. Staff has also interviewed several key informants in both communities, trying to get a sense of what they see as priorities the library should be focusing on.
All of this information will be analyzed and incorporated into the County Library's Strategic Plan, due to be completed in January 2014.
Town hall meetings consisted of groups of six to eight people sitting and working together to answer three questions: "What community priority should the library play a more active role in?", "What one thing could the library do better?", And "What is the single most important contribution the library makes to our community today?"
Discovery Bay Town Hall: Discovery Bay, with no library of its own, felt strongly that the library should be more pro-active about marketing its resources in their community. The library should be making its residents aware of library services. They are frustrated at the lack of a physical library in their community.
Marketing came up again in question no. 2, when asked what we could do better. Discovery Bay residents also felt strongly that the library's biggest contribution to the community is our free access to materials with expert assistance. They also listed early literacy and story times as another major contribution the library makes.
Antioch Town Hall: Attendees of Antioch's town hall would like the library to increase the accessibility of its resources in wider areas, and to engage and enrich the lives of youth in need. We could do a better job marketing and promoting ourselves with more and better publicity.
We do a good job providing free access to literature and knowledge for everyone in one place, and we open the world of knowledge through books and media in a safe place.
Brentwood Town Hall: Brentwood residents came up with priorities that reflect their desire that the library continue to build partnerships with the city and other organizations, both to bring a modern library to the community and to build a sense of community within the library.
They want the library to support and publicize access to education and technology, and to be a hub for lifelong learning. The library could do a better job of promoting its services. We could also provide a more inviting physical space.
Other improvements we could make included conducting more outreach, having more user-friendly online access and consistently good customer service. We could also work to secure adequate funding by cultivating and maintaining partnerships with the business community.
Answers to question no. 3 were pretty consistent across the board: the library provides free access to materials and technology that inform, entertain and enlighten the community. In Brentwood, we also have the great fortune to be open 56 hours, thanks to additional funding from the city.
Oakley Town Hall: Participants in Oakley's town hall had a loud and clear message: provide a stand-alone library in a better location and building, in the heart of the community, with better daytime hours.
The library should help bring a stronger sense of inclusion as a community to those who live there. In answer to what the library contributes, residents said free access to information and resources, and free resources and programs accessible to all demographics.
Brentwood Library CityRead Update: We have selected local author and educator Dan Hanel's book, "In the Shadow of Diablo: Mystery of the Great Stone House," for this year's CityRead. Pick up a free copy of the book starting Monday, Sept. 9, at the Brentwood Library. Read it, pass it on to a friend, or return it to the library when you're done.
The program runs through Sunday, Oct. 27, with the culminating author talk by Hanel taking place at 2 p.m. that day at the Brentwood Community Center. A beautiful quilt of Mt. Diablo will be raffled off during the event.
Thanks to the following organizations for sponsoring CityRead: Friends of the Brentwood Library, Brentwood Art Society, Lions Club of Brentwood, Lions Club of Discovery Bay and the Rotary Club of Brentwood.
In addition to the author talk, the John Marsh Historic Trust's Alexandra Ghiozzi will present a program about the John Marsh House on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Brentwood Community Center. The program, titled "John Marsh: Past, Present and Future," will discuss the man himself, and the house and efforts to restore it.
The Brentwood Art Society is arranging for local artists to display their work inside the library from Sept. 9 through Nov. 15. Art is to include depictions of Mt. Diablo, the East Contra Costa Historical Society, natural foothill landscapes, the John Marsh Stone House, downtown Brentwood, Vasco Caves, and Marsh Landing.
Liz Fuller is a community library manager at the Brentwood and Oakley libraries. Reach her at 925-625-3589, 925-516-5294 or at email@example.com.