Given Library

The Given Memorial Library in Pinehurst

Consultants in the coming weeks will be “casting a wide net” in an effort to find out what Pinehurst residents want in a public library.

The previous Village Council approved a $45,000 contract last September with Maryland-based Library IQ to conduct a professional needs assessment. Work on gathering data for the study began in the fall and is expected to go through this spring. The village decided to wait until January to begin what looks to be a robust public input process.

Debbie Joy with Library IQ presented an overview of the assessment to the council Tuesday afternoon prior to its regular business meeting and work session.

Two years ago, Given Memorial Library leaders turned to the Village Council for help in figuring out how to sustain the privately operated library’s operations. Its board concluded that the library could not be sustained through private fundraising efforts, a private endowment and an annual $100,000 allocation from the village.

A yearlong study by a joint committee of library and village officials concluded that a professional assessment should be done to figure out the best way forward.

The assessment is intended to provide the village with “clear insight into what the community wants and will support, priorities for improvement, and options for funding and operation,” according to a copy of Joy’s presentation released by the village on its website.

Residents will have various opportunities in person and online to provide input about what they want from the library.

So far, consultants have gathered statistics on library use, population demographics, growth projections, and the economic, educational and cultural climate of the village. The next step will involve gathering input that is “critical to understanding public perception and deserve for library services,” the presentation said.

Plans include a public online survey, public input workshops, focus groups and personal interviews. In addition, a statistically valid random survey will be conducted in April once possible options are developed for the council to consider.

The first public survey will be posted on the village’s public engagement website, engage.vopnc.org/library, from Jan. 27-Feb. 28. Paper copies will be available at Village Hall, Given Memorial Library and the public input workshops.

In addition, surveys will be mailed to 5,000 village residents.

Public input workshops will be held Feb. 18 from 6-8 p.m. and Feb. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon. They will include a presentation highlighting modern library services, and residents can indicate which ones they would likely use or not use, according to the presentation to council. Those various services will also be included on the online survey.

A laptop station will also be set up at the workshops for residents to complete the survey online. Paper copies will also be available.

A series of four 90-minute focus groups, called “community conversations,” with 12 to 15 pre-selected participants from the community will provide consultants with “live feedback.” Those will be held Feb. 18-20 with multiple meeting times offered to provide participants with options:

* Tuesday, Feb. 18, from 10-11:30 a.m.

* Tuesday, Feb. 18, from 2-3:30 p.m.

* Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 5:30-7 p.m.

* Thursday, Feb. 20, from 10-11:30 a.m..

The groups will include residents from all of the village’s neighborhoods and age groups, as well as those who currently use the library and those who do not.

Anyone interested in participating in the focus groups can fill out an application online at engage.vopnc.org/library. Applications are also available at Village Hall on Magnolia Road, and Given Memorial Library.

Village staff will notify all volunteer applicants if they are selected to participate in a Library Community Conversation by Friday, Jan. 17.

The final piece will be personal interviews with council members, village staff, Given Memorial staff members and volunteers, and student council groups.

Once all of the public input is collected and analyzed, possible recommendations will be developed. Those will be included in the more scientific random survey that will be mailed to 400 households. The results will be incorporated into the final report detailing possible options for the council to consider.

As a part of the process, consultants will assess library services being provided in other communities, define the village’s library needs now and in the future, and identify “relevant future services” the library should provide.

A final report will be presented in June.

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com.

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