HENDERSON, Ky. — The Henderson County Public Library long ago ceased being a place where you just went to borrow books.
But what could it become in the next few years? You could help decide that.
The library is launching a series of community visioning sessions, beginning this Tuesday, Jan. 25, to help it develop a new five-year strategic plan.
“The last plan ended in 2020,” Shannon Sandefur, who has been library director since last April. “I started this position without an active strategic plan. I discussed with the board in the interviewing process that (developing a new strategic plan) would be one of the first things I would need to tackle.
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“It’s just (like preparing to go) on vacation — you have to determine a destination,” she said. “This strategic plan will do that.”
She noted that the previous five-year strategic plan “led to the recently completed renovation and expansion project which doubled the size of the library building.”
Sandefur acknowledges that books are the first thing — and sometimes the only thing — that comes to mind for most people when they think about a public library.
“We want to change that perception,” she said. “We’re more than just books. Our mission statement says we provide ‘access to information and opportunities to pursue lifelong learning’ as well as economic and cultural enrichment, and recreational enjoyment.
“There are so many ways to learn than just books,” Sandefur said. “We want to make sure the public is informed of that.”
For example, the HCPL provides program ranging from basic technology classes to “fun programs like Lethal Library, when once a month we listen to a true-crime podcast and participants try to figure out who did it.”
The library offers baby, toddler and preschool storytimes in its children’s department (“We want to start young to introduce a love of reading and a love of libraries so it becomes lifelong”), Sandefur said, as well as “a great teen program and gaming program” in the teen department.
The HCPL also offers movies and television shows on DVD and Blu-ray; large-print books and audio books; printed and online genealogical resources; access to current magazines and newspapers; access to historic newspaper articles around the country through Newspapers.com; local history documents and artifacts; staff-produced historic displays; original art exhibitions curated by the Ohio Valley Art League; meeting rooms capable of seating 135 people upstairs at the new Preston Family Foundation Annex, and more.
“Libraries just have to become creative,” she said. “We have to be relevant and stay relevant.”
The library is also waiting for the arrival of a piece of computer networking equipment and the hiring of a qualified staff person to open its maker lab, which will include tools such as 3D printers, a laser engraver/cutter, a vinyl printer/cutter, a poster printer, a Cricut cutting tool, a recording booth for making podcasts and other projects, Adobe creative software and Corel Draw.
Is that enough? Is the library overlooking something?
HCPL’s community visioning sessions could help answer that.
The sessions, facilitated by Leadership Everyone in Evansville, which has years of experience conducting visioning sessions, will last two hours. They will resemble the recent Regional VOICE sessions conducted by Leadership Everyone at multiple locations in Henderson, but will focus on the library.
The sessions are open to all ages, including children.
The sessions are “not just for library users,” Sandefur said. “If you don’t use the library, why not?”
Scheduled sessions include:
Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 5:30 p.m. at the library, 100 S. Main St.
Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 4:30 p.m. at Greater Norris Chapel Baptist Church, 937 Washington St.
Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 8:30 a.m. at the library.
Those interested in participating are asked to register on their preferred date on the library’s online calendar at hcpl.evanced.info/signup.
“We’ll also develop a survey … to send out to where you can fill it out online,” Sandefur said.
The visioning sessions are intended to both reach out to the community and bring the community to the library.
“Our vision statement says we’re going to ‘connect the entire community’” with resources, services and ideas, she said. “To do that, we’ve got to think outside our walls. We have to know the community and bring everyone to the table.”
This article originally appeared on Henderson Gleaner: Henderson County Library hosting community visioning sessions