A One Stop Reference Point for Those Who Are In Need Of Local Resources

Posted by Gretchen Pruett on March 07, 2017 at 3:59 PM

New Braunfels Public Library, New Braunfels, TX

Working through the exercises in the Action Guide was so much more beneficial than we originally believed possible. We identified several new issues in two main areas - services to patrons groups that had not previously been identified, i.e. - the resource challenged patrons and services to patron groups that we had identified and addressed but through change were no longer being served as well, i.e. - employment seekers.

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We learned from working through the exercise in Section 1 that we were experiencing an increase in patrons who are resource challenged - whether that be homeless, hungry, mentally ill, disabled, ex-convicts, etc., and we had not really been working on developing programming for them since they mostly "just come in to use the computers". This is a mindset shift for us as well - that those who come in for the computers are actually some of our most active and engaged patrons, who just don't always use the traditional library services. We also saw from Section 1 that a key component of “library as platform” is to organize the disorganized information streams from the community and the state for all patrons, but the resource challenged patrons would especially benefit. So the light bulb went on - we are not just about being a voting location or distributing the pamphlets for all the local non-profit agencies, but we could be a one stop reference point for those who are in need of local resources. We had made a few tentative steps in this direction already, but have gained a new appreciation for the importance of this aspect of "civic" resource

We have identified several key areas that we used to do well that have slipped. We believe that strengthening these areas could be an easy win for the library and will help to position us better in the community before and after the dialogue. Our employment seekers used to benefit from a strong partnership with the local employment center, but due to personnel changes in our staff and a new provider for state services, we had lost most of the programming for these patrons. We will make rebuilding these partnerships and services a priority for 2016.

Gretchen Pruett
Library Director
New Braunfels Public Library
gpruett@nbtexas.org