Library board reveals game plan

The Fort Frances Library Board revealed its game plan for the next three years Monday night after chairwoman Joyce Cunningham presented town council with its 2006 strategic plan.
“A strategic plan is a road map guiding an organization along the way as it progresses from where it is to where it needs to be in the future,” she told council.
“Fort Frances Public Library’s strategic plan represents the approach our organization will take over the next three years, an exciting time in which planning the new library building will take the prominent role,” added Cunningham.
“The growing world of information and technology is changing the way people use and demand information, and changing the way people perceive and rely on their public library,” she noted.
“In order for the public library to continue meeting everyone’s information needs, we must have a plan to meet tomorrow’s challenges.”
Cunningham noted one of the key aspects to consider in the near future is planning for a new library to be built here.
“A new building provides an excellent window to re-examine the way we operate, and how we must operate in the future,” she said.
“As we are faced with increasing energy and other operating costs, we must investigate opportunities for greater savings and efficiencies in building design and construction, as well as staff re-organization.”
Cunningham said the Fort Frances Public Library envisions library services committed to supporting and facilitating the life-long continuous learning of individuals and the community—making the most of technological advances in the context of friendly, personable service.
“We see your library as an ever more vibrant service, highly valued by local citizens, responding to change.”
The five primary initiatives in the strategic plan include new facility development, service excellence, new technology, staff training and development, and board training and development.
Under the first initiative, the library board is committed to ensuring “all Fort Frances residents have access to the library and its resources in a comfortable, functional, and cost-effective building in which all residents can take pride.”
This includes continuing with plans for construction of a one-level, barrier-free new library, all the while ensuring the building is designed to include spaces for children, youth, and adults, as well as have a variety of spaces for work, study, conversation, and business.
Under the second initiative (service excellence), the local library board is committed to maintain high-calibre and diverse services.
This is to be achieved by:
•providing excellent customer service and awareness of library initiatives which contribute to the concept of the public library as a life-long learning centre;
•increasing the number of youth who are regular users of the library and assist youth in becoming aware of great books and useful website;
•ensuring that audio-visual collections are timely and relevant to the needs of the community; and
•to be a good partner to community organizations.
Under the third initiative (new technology), the library board is committed to “adapt to changing community needs, providing online services, and access to information employing state-of-the-art methods.”
The action plan to do so includes:
•considering the purchase of additional online databases;
•participating in “Knowledge Ontario” initiatives;
•investigating wireless Internet service;
•updating the library web page, making it more dynamic and interactive, with more resource links (it also should be customized to specific users and feature links to on-line tutorials); and
•promoting e-mail information services.
Under the fourth initiative (staff training), the library board will be committed to “respond to and succeed in a changing environment.”
This is to be achieved by:
•preparing a training and development plan to upgrade staff skills;
•encouraging staff to take advantage of educational courses and training opportunities;
•expanding the role of staff as readers’ advisors; and
•investigating commercial cataloguing services.
And under the fifth initiative (board training and development), the board will be committed to ensuring it is “empowered to successfully fulfill its role in governance, policy development, and advocacy.”
The action plan to do so includes:
•developing an orientation program for new board members;
•encouraging board members to take advantage of educational courses and training opportunities; and
•developing board advocacy skills and processes that will identify opportunities for the board to expand its advocacy role.
Town council accepted the strategic plan following Cunningham’s presentation Monday evening.
“Thank you very much. It was a well-prepared plan,” said Mayor Roy Avis.
Coun. Andrew Hallikas also thanked the library board and staff for putting together the plan, which he said spoke to the value of the library.
“It’s a treasure trove for the entire community,” he remarked.
Cunningham was accompanied by library CEO Margaret Sedgwick and library board member Mark Kowalchuk.
Copies of the 2006 strategic plan are available for viewing at the library.
These include a more extensive breakdown of the library’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as an appendix featuring the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries market survey, which gives insight as to what many Ontarians want out of today’s libraries.
The strategic plan was put together using information from Statistics Canada, a market survey by the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, a self-analysis of the library’s own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and the board’s last strategic plan, which was completed in 2002.