Library Looking For Community Input

Eckhart Strategic Planning

Eckhart Public Library requests the community’s input as it plans for the future.

In creating its new strategic plan, the library hopes to respond to the needs of the community with an openness to change and a focus on outcomes, Director Janelle H. Graber said. This includes exploring fluctuations in circulation and a downturn in the overall number of cardholders.

“You can use the library and never come into the facility, and yet you’ve downloaded books or conducted research using the ‘virtual branch,’” Graber said. “People are using libraries in new ways, and we want to know how they’ll use our library in the future.”

The library has partnered with Debra B. Natenshon of DBN & Associates, who has solicited staff input and conducted interviews with key library stakeholders. She will conduct focus groups of teens and adults in Auburn this fall. That input will help guide the strategic planning process.

“I am honored to work with the forward thinking leadership of the EPL as they develop an outcome-based strategy,” Natenshon said. “It’s very exciting to systematically listen to the voices of patrons as well as people who are not library users – to enlighten the process and explain what they need and expect from this important community resource moving forward.”

The focus groups will be held Oct. 20 and 21 in Auburn. Teen and adult focus group participants are needed to discuss the following library services: Adult, Children’s, Teen and Genealogy. Non-library cardholders living in the library’s service area are also invited to take part in a special focus group. If interested in participating in the focus groups, call 260-925-2414 extension 401 or email volunteer@epl.lib.in.us. Recruitment will continue through the end of September.

The library writes a strategic plan every three years, as required by state law, and tries to bring in a professional consultant to guide the process every six years. The process this year has been primarily supported by a grant from the Dekko Foundation.

Dekko Foundation’s Nonprofit Toolbelt Grants are designed to help build strong, long-lasting organizations, furthering the healthy development of young people. Kendallville-based Dekko Foundation invests in projects that help children and youth, up to age 18, work toward economic freedom.

DBN & Associates, L3C is a social purpose consultancy that partners with social sector organizations to clarify, articulate and improve outcomes. Natenshon, its founder, is a nationally recognized expert in outcome management.

Photo: Members of the Eckhart Public Library board of trustees “Get Caught Reading” in May. Front, left to right: Nancy Irwin and Lisa Conrad. Back: Carolyn Foley, Barb Morrow, Bill Schaab and Steve Teders. Not pictured: Kari Ackerman.

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About Jenny

I am the Associate Director of Eckhart Public Library. My office is in the Administrative Annex, but I can often be found roaming the Eckhart Public Library Campus, performing acts of librarianship in every department! I love to read and learn about history. I'm also a huge fan of movies, TV and pop culture in general, and I love to read books of all types. Currently, I'm working my way around the romance section, with some historical fiction and graphic novels thrown in for variety! But you never know what I'm going to pick up next.
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