Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson
At a recent library conference, a well-known futurist spoke about forecasting what might take place in the years ahead. He related that most future events have a limited number of possible outcomes and cited the 2008 Presidential Election as an example. Either a Democrat or a Republican will be elected and the winner will either be a man or a woman. The best way to prepare for the future, he contended, is to be ready for the most likely outcomes.
Our society is constantly changing on multiple levels. As Norman Mailer wrote, we live in “a world which is always different in one manner or another from the way we have seen it on the day before.” With some foresight, however, we should be ready to handle the changes that come tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
This month, Shaker Heights Public Library embarks upon a strategic planning process that will help us to better serve our community. There is one certainty in this process - and that is that funding will continue to be an issue throughout this decade and into the next. Although we have seen changes at the statehouse level, it does not change the current status quo or the anticipated levels of state income and expenditures. We do not expect increases from the state, or from the local community, but we can look to bolster our operations by reducing expenses through efficiencies, partnering with other groups, and through development work.
First, we must look at our community, listen to our customers, and try to address the needs of the residents in our district. What are the things that would help the people we are serving, and what can we do as their public library to serve their needs through the use of our facilities? How can our staff, services, and programs meet their needs?
We live in an era of change. As Charles Darwin has been quoted as saying, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” We have to be willing to adjust, adapt, and change if we are to be successful in reaching out to those that we serve by giving them what is relevant and helpful to them in their daily lives.
Through our strategic planning process, we will be taking an “environmental scan” of the library district to see who we are serving in more detail and to determine how that population has been changing and might change further in the coming years. We will use the Public Library Association’s planning model, which has a variety of updated service responses that we can use to meet the needs of our evolving community. We will select our options based upon this PLA list that includes everything from emergent literacy to homework help to lifelong learning. Our strategic goals, objectives, and action steps will flow from the specific service responses.
Bill Gates has predicted that the Internet will revolutionize television in five years; others have talked about the convergence of video to the “fourth screen,” from the movie screen to the TV screen to the computer screen to the handheld screen. We will be thinking and talking about these and similar ideas as we strive to position the Shaker Library for a positive future.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director