Final Report

of the

Library Planning Committee

 

April 12, 2002

 

Overall Summary

 

Satisfaction with the Wayland Public Library (WPL), its staff, services, collections and programs is high among those who participated in our work. Still when asked, focus group participants, survey respondents and staff had suggestions for the WPL to become the "perfect library." Few people explicitly said that a larger facility is needed, and most expressed affection for the present building. However, everyone participating in this process asked for more – more collections, computers, shelf space, quiet work areas, meeting rooms of various capacities, storage, seating, more space in the children's room, teen space, community programs as well as other requests. Our report shows that the desired uses of the Library expressed by our community cannot be achieved within the present facility. Choices will need to be made to balance the community's desired growth in services and the potential of the Library facility.

 

 

 

Purpose

 

On April 27, 2001, the Library Trustees formed the Library Planning Committee (LPC) for the purpose of developing an assessment of our community’s vision of needs for Wayland’s public library of the future. This assessment is one evaluative tool for use in developing a long-range plan for the Wayland Public Library.

 

Members of the LPC were Co-Chairs Aida Gennis and Cherry Karlson, Bev Daniels (resigned November 2001), Karl Geiger, Elizabeth Sweitzer and Jo Wilson. We were supported with the regular attendance of Louise Brown, Director of the Wayland Public Library, and three Library Trustees: Anne Heller, Lynne Lipcon and Ronnie Swain. The LPC held fourteen committee meetings, five focus groups and multiple subgroup meetings to accomplish our tasks. We gathered background information to better educate ourselves, developed methods to gather information from the community, and assessed our results to finish our mission.

 

Background Informatio

 

The committee collected information through:

 

 

The statistics were drawn from the WPL’s records of June 30, 2001. They show Wayland Library’s attendance and circulation increasing during the prior year – against statewide trends. Attendance at adult and children’s programs was up; growth in circulation of non-print materials increased while circulation of juvenile books decreased.

 

The LPC interviewed library trustees and/or directors of local community libraries to establish their methods for determining need, planning for new libraries and surveying constituents. We contacted Acton, Lincoln, Natick, Sudbury, Wellesley and Weston. Collectively, their advice was to conduct a combination of focus groups and surveys to collect community data. They also all engaged third parties at some point in the planning process to provide further objectivity, architectural advice or space analysis.

 

We gathered feedback and ideas from the WPL Trustees and staff on what they wished to see in a library – now or in the future. Six sessions were held, and ideas clustered around improvements in the physical plant/furnishings and enhancements to services.

 

Methodology

 

We used multiple methods to contact the residents of Wayland and other WPL users to inform them of the opportunity to participate in our work. The LPC was the focus of two articles in the Wayland Town Crier, and the Library Notes column of the Town Crier contained regular updates on our progress. We included an insert in the October 2001 tax bill informing residents of our project and inviting them to attend our focus groups or to complete a survey. Two primary methods of gathering community data were used: focus groups and surveys.

 

Five focus groups were held in October and November, 2001. The League of Women Voters provided a scribe for each session, and Vicki LaFarge, Wayland resident and Associate Professor of Management and Chair of the Management Department at Bentley College, donated her time as the facilitator. This provided consistency in record keeping, questioning and managing the focus groups. Finally, a Library Trustee and a member of LPC were present at each group. We invited attendance through notices in the Town Crier, the tax bill insert, posters in public locations, notices in parent newsletters at the public schools, and telephone invitations to community groups in Wayland. Members of the LPC also personally recruited attendees. Total attendance at the focus groups was 34 people.

 

Surveys were available to the Wayland community during the month of October, 2001. Notice of the surveys occurred as mentioned above. We distributed surveys to the community at large, to teachers at the five public schools in Wayland, and to a group of Middle and High School students. The community surveys were available at four public locations (Town Building, Senior Center, WPL’s Children’s Room and WPL’s main circulation desk) and on the Library’s Web site. Teacher surveys were delivered to teachers’ mailboxes at the schools, and the student surveys were administered through the Social Studies Department at the High School and through Tag Group discussions at the Middle School. All surveys were coded to track the location where they were completed. We collected 638 surveys: 240 community members, 99 teachers and 299 students.

 

We asked community and patron participants whether they were registered borrowers at the WPL; 95.3% indicated that they were. We estimate that our 638 participants represent 7% of the number of registered borrowers at the Wayland Public Library (8,883 as of June 30, 2001). The WPL’s registered borrowers represent 64% of Wayland’s population of 13,806 at the time of the town elections in April 2001 (Wayland Town Clerk’s information). The statistical information we used for this report is dated June 30, 2001.

 

Six interviews were held: one with all the Library Trustees and five individual interviews with Library staff. Interviews were conducted early in the LPC project to gather background information. Louise Brown, Director, told staff about our process and offered them the opportunity to speak with the LPC. We wanted the Library staff to have the occasion to give us information about improving the existing library and to discuss their ideas for the library of the future or "perfect" library. We also thought their comments might address issues not considered by patrons. All staff members interviewed were told their comments would be kept confidential and reported as a group.

 

Christopher Clark of Boston Information Systems assisted with the analysis of our survey data on a pro bono basis. He constructed a Web site where the LPC members input all survey data. Input was completed in February, 2002. From this data, Clark ran standard reports, which the LPC and Library Trustees analyzed and summarized. These reports were essential to being able to utilize the survey data.

 

We listed the URL of the Library’s Web page in error in our printed materials. We realized our error once the printing of the materials was completed. We addressed this by posting the corrected URL, http://www.wayland.ma.us/library, at: the four distribution sites of the surveys, in the teachers’ mailrooms at the schools (the site of dissemination and collection of their surveys), in the Library News column of the Town Crier, at the focus group sessions, and by informing the teachers disseminating the surveys to the students.

 

Results of Needs Assessment

 

We decided to approach all the data by identifying recurring themes in the focus groups, surveys and staff opinions. The focus groups provided free-flowing discussions that touched on topics not covered by the survey questions. The surveys and focus groups largely attracted respondents over the age of 50; therefore, the student surveys take on more importance because they provide information from another age segment and represent the opinions of the future users of the Library. The staff’s opinions indicate their thoughts about the tools needed to provide today’s level of service and their ideas for the future. We have highlighted the themes that recurred throughout all these data sources.

 

Analysis of Focus Groups:

 

Each focus group illuminated different ideas. The following bullets outline the responses to the four focus group questions. This list is not exhaustive, and we encourage you to read the Focus Group Summary (Appendix item a) to appreciate all the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis of Survey Results:

 

The survey results support and enhance the focus group findings. Again, the information below is summarized, and we encourage you to review the survey results (Appendix item b,c,d).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis of Staff Opinions:

 

The WPL staff opinions outline different but supporting topics. Again, the information below is summarized, and we encourage you to review the Summary of the Staff & Trustee Interviews when reading this section (Appendix item e.).

 

 

Conclusion

 

Overall, there was a very positive, constructive response to the questions posed in the focus groups, surveys and conversations with staff. All groups indicated a desire for their "perfect library" to include more space for many types of use: individual study, group work, meeting spaces for larger groups, teen space, larger children’s area, and a more spacious and less crowded feeling throughout the building and rotunda. All also indicated that community meeting spaces and activities are important, that the social and cultural opportunities that the Library offers are valuable and should be increased, and most mentioned a more casual area where individuals can relax, chat, and have refreshments.

 

When describing the physical aspects of their "perfect library," they all spoke of comfortable and inviting seating, computer ports, less crowded shelving, more inviting displays, a map of the library, and the locations of the collections clearly marked. All described the "perfect library" as a place that contained expanded collections with more high demand books, more books, more books-on-tape, more audio and video (videos, DVDs) materials available, and more computers and computer ports. Students and teachers indicated that the Library can serve as an after-school resource and repository of information for students’ class work. Students indicated that it would be helpful to have copies of their textbooks located at the Library and the resources needed for their assignments available as well. Some even suggested that there should be computer connections between the WPL and school libraries. Many survey participants suggested that they would like more parking and safer entry and egress from the parking lot.

 

Overall satisfaction with many of the services and collections that currently exist at the Library is very strong. However, when given the opportunity to identify reasons for not using the Library resources well or to state desired enhancements and reasons to come to the Library more frequently, respondents uniformly indicate a need for longer hours, larger collections, and a larger facility.

 

Supporting Documents

 

Copies of all reports and data are included with this report to make it a stand-alone document for future use.

 

Appendices:

 

These documents are to be referenced while reading the Final Report of the Library Planning Committee.  (Copies of appendices are available with printed report in the library.)

 

  1. Summary of Focus Group Discussions, dated 3/2002
  2. Summary of Community Survey & Statistics 4/2002
  3. Summary of Teacher Survey & Statistics 4/2002
  4. Summary of Student Survey & Statistics 4/2002
  5. Summary of WPL Staff and Trustee Interviews, dated 3/2002

 

Documentary Support:

 

The following items are appended for reference when needed:

 

  1. LPC Mission Statement, dated 8/2/2001
  2. Statistical Information provided by the WPL, dated 6-30-2001
  3. Summary of Neighboring Communities Methods of Assessment, LPC document, dated 6-26-2001
  4. Town of Wayland Tax Bill Insert, dated 9/2001 and distributed with the October 2001 tax bills
  5. Focus Groups: All information from October and November 2001.
  1. Flier announcing Focus Groups, dated 10/2001
  2. Questions asked at each session,
  3. Samples of letters sent to attendees,
  4. Session notes from the League of Women Voters’ scribe and the attending Library Trustee,
  5. Handwritten tear sheets with notes from each session.
  1. Surveys: Copies of cover letters distributed with surveys, dated 10/2001
  2. Surveys: Copies of Community, Teacher and Student surveys.
  3. Survey results: Hard copy and on disc
  4. Interim Status Reports (3) to the Trustees, dated 7/26/2001, 9/20/2001 and 1/14/2002
  5. Boston Information System contract, dated 1/17/2002 and 2/20/2002
  6. Minutes of LPC Meetings, dated
  1. 4/27/2001
  2. 5/6/2001
  3. 5/22/2001
  4. 6/26/2001
  5. 7/2/2001
  6. 7/23/2001
  7. 8/15/2001
  8. 8/27/2001
  9. 9/15/2001
  10. 10/11/2001
  11. 11/29/2001
  12. 1/14/2002
  13. 3/27/2002
  14. 4/8/2002

 

We are available to answer any questions that may arise and to report verbally on our work. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in planning for the future of the Wayland Public Library.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Aida Gennis Cherry Karlson
Karl Geiger Elizabeth Sweitzer Jo Wilson