Looking Forward: From Intake to Planning
In 2025, Lewisville, Texas will celebrate a major milestone – the 100th anniversary of its founding. City officials saw this as the perfect opportunity to ask the community to do some forward thinking. “We heard from the community about what they wanted their city to look like by the year of their centennial, and we developed our Lewisville 2025 Vision Plan from that,” says Donna Barron, city manager. “The library was included as part of the inquiry, and what we heard was the desire for it to be the gathering spot for ALL members of the community. A focus on multiculturalism was discussed extensively.”
Library: Single branch | Location: Lewisville, TX | Population: 100,000 | White: 45% | Hispanic: 31% | Black: 11% | Budget: $2,517,131 | Funded through general fund of Lewisville
In response to the community feedback, the Lewisville Public Library recently hired a bilingual children’s librarian. “Our goal is to better serve the community’s Hispanic residents that make up approximately 30% of our service population,” says Carolyn Booker, Director of Library Services, Lewisville Public Library.
“This summer, youth services will begin offering a new preschool Spanish story time on Thursdays, and then in the Fall we plan to convert all story times offered on Thursdays to Spanish,” Booker continues. “Our bilingual services librarian will also be able to bring these skills to our many outreach events in schools, at community festivals and events, childcare centers, etc. She also will be developing programming in Spanish for adults.”
The Lewisville 2025 Vision Plan was still under development when Barron attended the annual International City/County Management Association (ICMA) meeting in 2016.
“There was a breakout session on libraries, and the Aspen Institute report was discussed,” Barron explains. “In fact, it was one of the only sessions where there was standing room only with city managers from all over the nation. That’s a recognition that libraries are changing; that they ARE a community gathering place and they mean much more to the community than just a resource for books. We were interested in a maker space so I was trying to gather as much information as possible at the time. That’s when I got the Aspen report. I read it, and it had just wonderful ideas.”
In May 2016, Barron and Booker together attended the ICMA webinar, “Public Libraries: A Look to the Future,” presented by Susan Hildreth professor of practice, Information School, University of Washington; Wally Bobkiewicz, city manager, Evanston Illinois, and Karen Danczak Lyons, library director, Evanston Public Library. Presenters discussed the Action Guide for Re-Envisioning Your Public Library and how both the Aspen report, Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries, and action guide could be used in the library or community.
Booker and her staff began working with the action guide shortly thereafter to prepare for a presentation to City Council in October 2016.
“We started from the first section and worked through the guide. We decided to do this in our team leader meetings that includes our four supervisors. It was on the agenda at every one of our staff meetings,” Booker explains. “In reading the instructions, we saw that we could involve our library board. So, we had them work through the first section, People, where they had to identify library stakeholders and their expectations for the library. The board really enjoyed being involved and brainstorming with us. It was interesting to see their responses to questions alongside staff responses.”
Aligning Library Services with Community Goals
The Lewisville 2025 Vision Plan is centered around nine ‘big moves,’ with each representing a major area of focus. With great intentionality, the library developed programming that aligns with the 2025 Vision Plan.
“The library has done just an awfully good job of tying into the 2025,” says Barron. “One of our big moves is our Green Centerpiece. We’re a city with a lot of park land. We have an area that’s owned by the Corps of Engineers. It has a little over 2,000 acres and sits below the Lewisville Dam. We know that kids in today’s world sit in front of computers too much, and they’re not connected with the outdoors. We have an initiative to try to get kids off the couch and out on trails. The library developed master naturalist training programs and is recreating their programming to support the 2025 plan.”
The Lewisville Public Library moved into a new, spacious building in 2007. The library staff used two events planned for late 2016/early 2017 to engage feedback from the community.
“The celebration of our 10th year was used as an opportunity to get citizen input,” says Melinda Galler, assistant city manager. “We had a large open house and a huge Harry Potter Day that brought a ton of people to the library. At both events, we implemented something that we call ‘dotology.’ The library staff put a lot of ideas together and invited the public to apply green dots on the pages they were most interested in. We’ve known for a while that we wanted to add a maker space, so this was a great opportunity to get feedback about the types of activities the community wants to see in our maker space. The results were interesting. There were things that I thought that the community wouldn’t be interested in that they were VERY interested in. When we get ready to prepare our budget package to take to Council, we have good community buy in on what they want rather than just the thoughts of a small group of on what we think would work.”
Working through the action guide helped library leadership to think about library space and services.
“A lot of our community comes to the library and uses our computers to find jobs, to look at social media, to do all the things that some of us take for granted because we are able to do those things at home,” Galler says. “One of the things that we funded in this year’s budget that I think was an idea that was spurred through the Guide is that we now check out laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots. While our kids get iPads through the school district, that doesn’t mean they have Wi-Fi at home. We’re piloting the hotspots now. We got a grant from an area business to buy some. If it’s successful, we’ll put together a program package for Council’s consideration.”
Input from citizens is helping the Lewisville Public Library align its services with community goals. The knowledge gained by working through the action guide enabled Booker to develop a strong presentation to City Council and a case for the establishment of a maker space that the community will embrace and feel ownership of based on their feedback.
“I would recommend the action guide, because it could be applicable to any situation,” Booker says. “We really wanted a maker space, but talking through it as we worked through the action guide really helped us realize that it really is a great step for us.”
Director of Library Services
Lewisville Public Library
City of Lewisville, TX
Assistant City Manager, Community Services
City of Lewisville, TX