Library Director Brian Auger believes, and states often, that Libraries are “vital cornerstones of communities.” In order for public libraries to continue to fulfill this role and remain relevant in a changing world, priorities and the overarching mission of the organization must be routinely evaluated. 

Throughout the third and fourth quarter of 2022, community survey data, community conversation summaries, and demographic data were collected and analyzed, and helped the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) better articulate the needs of Somerset County residents. In early 2023, SCLSNJ continued to use the Public Library Association’s Dynamic Planning model to define the System’s core services and strategic priorities, and to build upon the System’s plan for continued service excellence. 

“Our planning process included gathering a tremendous amount of input from our community members through surveys and conversations,” said Lynn Hoffman, deputy director. “Following the collection and in-depth analysis of this data, four strategic priorities were drafted and it was discovered that our Core Services continued to be accurate and relevant.”

SCLSNJ’s Strategic Priorities represent themes and ideas that emerged across data sets and have the goal of making meaningful changes for our communities and customers.

  1. Providing activities and places that foster social interactions and connections.
  2. Connecting people to opportunities for community engagement and participation.
  3. Addressing the needs of shifting demographics.
  4. Exploring and enhancing the variety of ways customers experience library services.

SCLSNJ’s Core Services represent the services that libraries have always provided, and will always provide.

  1. Making personalized connections between patrons and materials.
  2. Presenting programs that help community members connect, explore, share, and discover.
  3. Serving as a community gathering space.
  4. Promoting and supporting lifelong learning.
  5. Providing technology access and expertise that meet the needs of the community.
  6. Creating opportunities that build Somerset County’s economic and workforce development.

“Our first three strategic priorities have not changed much from past years, but our fourth strategic priority is an innovative goal that speaks to a newer service ideal being explored in libraries across the country,” said Hoffman. “Customer experience can be broadly described as the perception a customer has of a brand. It is the result of every single form of interaction or communication the customer has with the brand, including products and services, marketing materials, customer service interactions, use of online tools and resources, visits to physical spaces, and more.”

Continued Hoffman, “Every interaction – or touchpoint – is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship between the brand and the customer, or has the potential to weaken that relationship. I’m sure our staff will continue to develop creative services and programs to respond to our community over the next few years.”

Further data analysis outlined that customers seemed to have similar questions about library resources and services. Perhaps you have wondered …

… where to find your next great read?

Obviously, your next great read is at SCLSNJ! But, if you need help figuring out what that read should be, we have all sorts of ways to help. Check out the SCLSNJ Blog for great recommendations and reviews from our staff. Take a look at our latest additions on the first and fifteenth of each month on our New and Coming Soon page. Subscribe to one of our email newsletters to get regular updates on your favorite genres and topics. Or, give us some hints about what kind of read you’re looking for, and our Personalized Picks team will pick out some great titles just for you.

… why you can’t check out Audible or Kindle originals from SCLSNJ?

We would love to make these kinds of items available to our customers for checkout! Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t license their e-books or e-audiobooks to libraries for circulation. Not only are we not able to purchase these titles for the Library, even if you had an Audible original that you bought and wanted to donate to us, we wouldn’t have a way to add it to our collection. It might be difficult to add certain items to our collection, but we still have many amazing titles for you to explore. Click here to discover your next great online read.

… why we don’t have Cultural Adventure Passes for certain museums or attractions?

Most of our Cultural Adventure Pass partners have arrangements in place for public libraries to buy special types of passes and loan them out to multiple people over the course of a year. In other words, we usually can’t just become a regular member of a museum and then make the pass available to you. You might remember when we had passes for Grounds For Sculpture – unfortunately they discontinued their public library program, so we aren’t able to get those passes anymore. And, some museums – like the American Museum of Natural History in New York – don’t have public library programs at all. That won’t stop us from asking, though!

Curious about something else? An SCLSNJ expert wants to answer those questions, too: Ask a librarian.

All collected data is available for community members to explore. To learn more about SCLSNJ’s Strategic Planning process, visit or email To discover all SCLSNJ has to offer, visit or connect with SCLSNJ on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.