The Gravenhurst Public Library is fully operational again and an effort is underway to make progress on some of the goals that were stalled due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Library board chair Dave Hammill and CEO/Chief Librarian Julia Reinhart attended the Aug. 9 Gravenhurst Committee of the Whole meeting to update council on the strategic goals for 2022 for the Gravenhurst Public Library.
In spring 2019 the library board struck a planning committee to create a four-year strategic plan. Members presented a draft to the board for feedback in March 2020. A refresh was planned, including new shelving, painting and furniture updates. Soon after, the library was then shut down due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Hammill said that library staff were able to quickly “set up curbside pick-up and other essential services for our patrons. We were also able to utilize staff and keep them employed as movers, the painting and shelving was completed while the library was physically closed.”
Despite the pandemic, Hammill said 75% of the objectives that were in the draft strategic goals were completed, including hiring a Child and Youth Librarian and a Collections and Digital Literacy Librarian.
Reinhart said a revised plan was presented to the board again but with short-term goals, because it is an election year and a new board will be put in place in late fall. The newly constituted board will be responsible for the next four-year plan, she explained.
The three-part approach has been labelled “Enhance, Engage, Expand.” One part of “enhance” was to get input from local teens. The new Child and Youth Librarian met with the Gravenhurst Youth Council and got lots of great ideas, said Reinhart. A new tween book club has started and in the fall, “we are going to give teens the opportunity to talk to people in the gaming community, in connection with Riot Games” about employment in the gaming industry.
To also enhance what the library already has, Reinhart said they are looking closely at circulation statistics for existing collections. “We are seeing a huge uptick in graphic novels, for instance,” she said.
During the pandemic, the library’s relationship with the local schools was paused but has resumed and will get back to normal in the fall. A ‘new baby’ program has begun and further programming is being planned and in particular looking at timelines and Saturdays.
Reinhart said the “Engage” part is to “explore, develop and provide lifelong learning opportunities for adults, with assistance from community partnerships.” The library is continuing to work with Gravenhurst Archives to help connect people to the history of the community and a cemetery walk is being planned for the fall.
Marketing and fundraising are key parts of the “Expand” strategy. Reinhart said “a communication strategy is needed on the library expansion project. This will be part of the re-branding initiative that will take place in 2023.” They intend to establish a Friends of the Library group and investigate applicable grants.
After their presentation, Mayor Kelly thanked Hammill and Reinhart for providing such crucial services during the pandemic and that it “really highlighted that the library was a lifeline for so many people during a difficult time.”
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