Some towns have their corner deli or hometown diner or even a community center: the heart of a place, the place where folks gather, where people tend to wind up whenever something is going on around them, or when nothing at all is happening.
You probably would not encounter too much argument that for Montclair, the Public Library seems to be the place. Just five months ago, nothing could demonstrate this with more clarity than when superstorm Sandy swept through northern New Jersey. Nearly everyone in town, it seems, passed through the main library branch or its Bellevue Avenue location at some point in the first week after the storm when life was upside down, taking advantage of the Library’s extended hours and Wi-Fi to work, stay informed, keep children occupied, find warmth, watch films, and converse with neighbors.
Now, the Montclair Public Library has announced the completion of a formal Strategic Plan for the years 2013-2016 “to enhance service for all of its residents and users,” resulting from a comprehensive study by a planning committee with representation from library Board members, its director, staff, and local residents.
Could they have gotten it any more on-target than with these guiding principals?
“Vision: Our vision is that the library will be the place where community happens—the center of the Montclair community.
Mission: The mission of the Montclair Public Library is to change lives every day through words, ideas, and community connections.”
Perhaps they were able to so thoroughly zero in on the Library’s vital role to township residents because that’s who they asked to help shape their plan. Committee discussion and input was gathered by a public survey and focus groups, which identified specific trends and strategic issues, such as service for all ages; technology: adaptable and easy-to-use facilities; staff investment; resource development and governance; and identity and awareness.
Features of the Library’s new vision include five strategic initiatives:
1. Secure the Library’s role as the community’s primary information, cultural, and civic destination
2. Ensure that the Library is well supported to meet the needs of current and future generations of Montclair residents
3. Build community awareness of, vibrant engagement with, and passionate advocacy for the Library
4. Refresh, revitalize, and renew the Library to delight and amaze the community
5. Host local content creation and sustain awareness of all that is unique to Montclair
“This plan is a valuable tool that will lead the Montclair Public Library into the future. It is not just a document to sit on a shelf,” explains David Hinkley, Library Director, who also noted that progress and implementation will be analyzed annually.
The Library recently enlisted the support of book-loving local residents to reflect on what the library means to them, in a series of essays, in support of a $200,000 fundraising effort – and some folks need no encouragement to run up contributions.