The Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ), a nationally ranked four star library, has been working to create a new strategic plan which launched in early January 2019 resulting in enhanced services, resources, and more.
“Our process involved gathering data to get a sense of what our communities’ biggest concerns are,” said Lynn Hoffman, SCLSNJ’s director of operations. “We held a series of over two dozen facilitated small-group conversations to learn what kind of community people want to live in, so that we could look for ways the Library can help make that a reality. We received nearly 900 responses to a community survey that told us about the community at large and library use in particular. We reviewed demographic data and projections to see how our communities are changing.”
The strategic plan survey and conversations, as well as demographic research, highlighted where SCLSNJ has the potential to make meaningful changes for Somerset County’s communities and residents.
Core services that emerged from the research are:
- Making personalized connections between patrons and materials;
- Presenting programs that help community members connect, explore, share, and discover;
- Serving as a community gathering space;
- Promoting and supporting lifelong learning;
- Providing technology access and expertise that meet the needs of the community; and
- Creating opportunities that build Somerset County’s economic and workforce development.
Strategic priorities that emerged from the research are:
- Promoting the Library as an impartial platform for creating meaningful interactions and connections;
- Exploring new ways to shape our spaces to meet community needs;
- Welcoming new residents; and
- Addressing the needs of shifting demographics.
“In my position of manager of branch services: special projects and strategic initiatives, I work on projects that are in alignment with our newly defined core services and strategic priorities,” said Lauren Ryan. “As noted above, one component of our core services is providing technology access and expertise that meets the needs of the community. An example of a relevant upcoming project within this sphere is the circulation of Wi-Fi hotspots. Providing Wi-Fi through mobile hotspots brings the internet into the homes of Somerset County residents, to small business owners at an outreach event, or even to your car with your family on a long drive.
Continued Ryan, “additionally, one component within our strategic priorities is promoting the library as an impartial platform for creating meaningful interactions and connections. In response to this community need we’re coordinating National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day for our employees. This nationally recognized day provides a way for children to make a connection between what they learn at school with the working world.”
“Moving forward, we will be continuing to define exactly what kind of impact we think the Library can have in these areas, and then designing programs and services that will help us have an impact,” said Hoffman.
To learn more about the strategic planning process and to follow process progress, visit sclsnj.org/about/strategic-plan.