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Wednesday, 09 November 2016 02:58

Library looks for input on strategic plan

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The Haywood County Public Library has roots dating back more than a hundred years, but today’s library has its sights set squarely on the next hundred. 

The library system dates back to 1891 and currently consists of four branches — in Waynesville, on Haywood Street; in Canton on Pennsylvania Avenue; in Maggie Valley on Soco Road.; and in Fines Creek on Fines Creek Road. 

Currently, a long-range strategic plan is in the works, and library officials want to hear from the public to determine how the library can remain relevant — amidst the rise of electronic media — in the coming decades. 

“We have been looking at the needs of the community and how the library can better serve the needs of the community,” said Library Director Sharon Woodrow. “Having discussed it with county administration, we thought this was the best plan.”

That plan has already lead to meetings with eight different focus groups, who were presented with the question, “In five to 10 years, what role would you like to see the public library play in your life and the life of your community?” 

“Our goal is to really go out and get the input from the community itself,” Woodrow said, noting that she’s already gotten a lot of good ideas, including requests for more facilities and more hours. 

As examples, she cited many people asking for a bookmobile and better broadband access at the library, as well as a café, more programming, and more collections.

Additionally, many modern libraries now serve as a repository for local historical documents and news archives. 

“Several of the communities would also like to have easier access to their community history in the libraries that are closest to them,” she said. 

Woodrow also said that there have been some offbeat suggestions revealed that might not be as far-fetched as once thought. 

“We’ve had some really neat answers come out,” she said. “Someone said they wanted a drone to deliver materials.”

Three public input sessions remain: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Waynesville Library; 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Maggie Valley Library; and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Canton Library.

The sessions have been taking less than 30 minutes, and also feature light refreshments. 

“It’s been working out very well, we’ve had wonderful participation,’ she said. 

Once the sessions are complete, Woodrow said, they’d go through the data, compile it and write a strategic plan, which they hope to present to the county this coming spring. 

“This is all about being good stewards of taxpayer money,” she said.

For more information, call 828.356.2504.

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