Officials are gathering input from the community on possible changes to the library

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Newberg Public Library is developing a five-year strategic plan and wants the community's input.

As the Newberg Public Library transitions into the future, it is developing a strategic plan to approach the next five years with serving the community in mind. The 2020-2025 strategic plan is being crafted now, with input currently being gathered from the community on the matter.

"Most libraries in Oregon do a strategic plan review every five or six years," library director Will Worthey said. "When I arrived here in 2019, it was the last year of the previous strategic plan, so it was time to begin that process. The process normally goes through brainstorming, public engagement, focus groups and the library advisory board before getting ratified by council."

The library put up a public survey online for community members to fill out with their thoughts on changes that should come to the library in the near future. With the COVID-19 crisis playing out as it has, library board members could not go through the normal procedure of gathering public input.

"This year, like everything else, nothing is normal," Worthey said. "We couldn't have the public town hall meetings that we would normally do or break out into focus groups like normal. After many months of deliberation, we decided to do public survey work to take the place of our focus groups. The board took two months to come up with the questions in our digital survey. It will test our assumptions about what we think is important, while also capturing other ideas the public might have about improving the library. The real goal is to come up with objectives that are clear, blue sky, imaginative and wide-ranging."

One of the primary objectives of the board is maintaining the usability of the library building by preserving and improving the physical structure. Within that objective are some goals the board is suggesting like fixing the building's water problems, conducting a review of exterior lighting and considering other ways to use the amphitheater part of the building.

"The second major objective of ours is to align physical and digital resources to make sure the library is reaching its service community," Worthey said. "That means examining different ways of conducting patron surveys, sharing patron service stories with the community, and designing and piloting programs to increase technology.

"We also want to reach an agreement between the city councils in Newberg and Dundee and the school district to expand our service area to Dundee as well. This will be important for that community, but will take plenty of time and collaboration."

The survey provides community members an opportunity to add items to the wish list as well, sharing what they believe would be important improvements to the library's service and structure. That survey is open until Nov. 10 and can be found at Library board members hope to have the final strategic plan written by the end of the calendar year and before the City Council by March 2021, Worthey said.

"We're listening," he said. "We want to hear from everybody and know what they think about things we haven't thought about as a board. We want them to be big, bold and aspirational dreams for the library as it carries into the future."

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