Community Input Will Guide Library’s Strategic Plan

By Dot Bergin

LibraryWhat should the Bedford Free Public Library look like in five years?  Think back to 2010: many of the popular services now being offered at the Library didn’t even exist.  Fast forward to 2021: what could you envision for your Library?

Bedford residents will have an opportunity to participate in updating the Library’s current Five Year Strategic Plan, which is a major task for the Library Trustees (and it is also a requirement of the Massachusetts Library Association that public libraries review their plans every five years.)  A key goal is to involve a cross section of the town in the process.

At their April 12 meeting, the Trustees heard Library Director Richard Callaghan review the timeline for the Plan.  First, library consultant Deb Hoadley has been engaged to spearhead the process.  Hoadley will convene a series of focus groups of 10 to 15 residents each, to gather in two, two-hour meetings in June and another meeting in August.  She will cast a wide net to reach out to as many of Bedford’s diverse ‘communities’ as possible: the business community, Chinese and Hispanic communities, young families, the retired community, Friends of the Library, town administrators and the Trustees themselves.  Hoadley has already had an introductory meeting with the Library staff and will hold a focus group for them on May 6.

Purpose of the focus groups is to discuss what each community wants from the Library. From these sessions, questions will be developed for a survey which will go out to every household in town. Once the results are in, the new five year plan will be written, approved by the Trustees, and finally submitted to the MLA.

In other business, new trustees Elizabeth Hacala and Emily Mitchell were welcomed to the Board. Both have had extensive library involvement in their professional careers. Hacala was for some years the director of publications for the Massachusetts Library Association and later its Executive Director.  Mitchell worked as a circulation assistant at the Bedford Library from 2001-2008.  She has been an editor of children’s books and is now a literary agent. The Trustees also reorganized, electing Robert Batt as the next chair and Michael Pulizzi as vice-chair.  Hacala and Mitchell will share the duties of secretary when the new officers assume their positions on July 1.

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