Massena Library outlines 5-year plan goals

The Massena Public Library has published its long-range plan, detailing its priorities over the next five years. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Looking ahead, the Massena Public Library’s five-year plan, from 2021 to 2026, builds on the library’s successes over the years.

“The plan is do more outreach, and we’re already doing outreach, to continue offering programs in-house that people like and that people want, to continue to grow the collection and within budget,” Director Elaine Dunne said.

Another portion of the plan is to continue to bring in more library patrons. She said the impact of the pandemic has meant smaller numbers of visitors.

“They’re not what they used to be, but they’re getting there. They’re slowly climbing, and that’s part of our long-range plan, too. Five years from now we hope we’re at the level we were before we went into the pandemic,” Ms. Dunne said. “It’s going to take a long time, but that’s the case with all libraries.”

As audiobooks and e-books continue to grow, she said the library would continue to invest in those, but at the same time, not forget the readers who want a hard copy of a book in their hands.

“The library system as a whole saw a 30% increase in circulation of audio and e-reader-type books. As a consortium, each library pays according to usership a set amount for each year, and we’re all going to be paying more toward that for that very reason, because many people that have started using an e-reader or audiobook have continued to do so and will continue to do so. So we definitely will be looking to fill that niche,” Ms. Dunne said.

At the same time, “We still have our book readers and they do like to have a book in their hands and that hasn’t changed. We saw that during the pandemic. People really needed a book in their hands,” she said.

The long-range plan was developed with input from the community through six months of public surveys, user surveys, focus groups and other avenues. A public survey and trustee focus group were conducted in February. Copies of the survey were distributed through the library’s curbside service and in the print edition of a local newspaper. A digital survey was available on the library’s website and Facebook page.

A total of 163 surveys were completed and returned to the library.

Separate online focus groups were held for the board of trustees and library staff in March. The results from the public survey and the two focus group sessions were compiled and used to develop the goals for the long-range plan, which was written from April to June and adopted on July 13.

“The Engaging the Community 2021-2026 long-range plan is the result of six months of information collection, deliberation and development by library trustees, director, staff and patrons. Patrons’ needs and wants, the development of the community, the changing technology for providing library services and the future direction of the Massena Public Library were taken into consideration,” the library’s board of trustees wrote in a preface to the plan.

“It was a decision-maker in what the public likes and what they would like to see more of. Part of any planning process is to include the input of the public because that’s who we serve,” Ms. Dunne said.

“The long-range plan is now completed and adopted. It was successfully put together by gathering information of the staff and the public, and it shows engagement by the community,” said Massena Town Council member Susan Bellor, who serves as the town’s liaison to the library.

Trustees said the plan would help guide the library through the next five years.

“Engaging the Community 2021-2026 will help to ensure that the Massena Public Library continues to meet the needs of the public for education in traditional and non-traditional ways that are accessible to all. The plan is a starting point for the library to continue adjusting its means of engaging with the community for the next five years,” they said.

The plan will be reviewed again in January and July 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026. Another public survey will be conducted in February 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026. The next planning process will be from January to July 2026.

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