The Johnsburg Public Library District has about 12,128 residents in its district, but only about 4,000 have a library card.
Library Director Beth Ryan wants to get information from both of those groups about what they want at their public library.
“What I find interesting, and a little dismaying, is that people are asking for things that we already have,” Ryan said.
She and her 12 staffers found their previous, short-term plans went by the wayside when COVID-19 came along, she said.
What are we doing well, or what can we be doing better?”— Johnsburg Public Library District Director Beth Ryan
“Now is a good time to do strategic planning” to make sure that what they offer now, post-COVID-19, is what the community wants, Ryan said.
“We want to take the information we get and use it as best we can to have more involvement in our programs,” board president Madelyn Diedrich said.
People are coming back to the library after COVID-19 shutdowns, but more people need to return to their library, she said.
Questions cover topics such as online library resource use, what users check out from the collection, what types of programs cardholders prefer, and what times people are most likely to attend those programs.
To get answers from those who don’t regularly use the library, Ryan also asked the village of Johnsburg to include the link in a recent newsletter emailed to residents.
It is the question “What items or services do you wish we could add?” that causes her frustration and shows her the library may need to promote those services better, Ryan said.
Once Ryan gets an idea of what programs to promote, she said she wants to determine if the library is putting its taxpayer dollars into the right services.
If, for example, the library is paying for a database residents aren’t using, she could drop the database.
She may also decide to reallocate staff to meet residents’ requests, Ryan said.
“One of the most common remarks is, ‘We wish you had more sessions of programs for children,” she said.
To reach that goal, she may add hours for a part-time employee or move that person off of desk duty and into programs.
Ryan said the survey isn’t a precursor to any expansion plans but aims to get baseline information.
“What are we doing well, or what can we be doing better?” she said.