Action Plan FY2023
Note: Numbering in this document aligns with that of the library’s 2016 long-range plan.
I. Increase Library Responsiveness to the Community
1. Monitor community demand for different or additional hours of operation
The library is currently open 42 hours per week, six days per week. While these hours exceed the state requirements for Maynard’s population size, we want to make sure they meet the needs of our community. The library will monitor several factors—staff resources, COVID data, input from patrons, and demand for evening meeting-room use—and consider changing hours accordingly. The library will also assess the possibility of providing open hours on Saturdays during July and August.
2. Develop collections and programming
Under the guidelines of the Collection Development Policy, the library will continue to offer content in a wide variety of formats. In addition, the library will dedicate increased attention to collecting materials on diverse subjects and for diverse audiences. We will achieve this goal by using collection-development tools from Minuteman Library Network, Ingram, and OverDrive; educating staff through conferences and workshops; including the goal as a regular item on the Collection Development Group agenda; and setting expenditure goals.
The library will place increased emphasis on the development of our e-book collections by more closely monitoring e-book borrowing by Maynard patrons and making greater use of our OverDrive Advantage account. We will continue to add new technology and other tools to the Library of Things for patrons to borrow. Recent additions have been a portable DVD player, Roku streaming stick, portable projector, VHS to DVD converter, and several WiFi hotspots. See Section I.6 for information on the library’s World Languages Collection.
The library has identified the following goals for its programming:
Accessibility of programs
Arts and culture emphasis that reflects strong interest in the community
Diversity in audiences (including age, and gender and racial identity)
Diversity in subjects
Health and wellness of individuals in community
Local history, issues, authors
Support of parents and homeschooled children
To achieve some of these goals in FY23, the library will offer at least one program in each of the following areas: sensory programming for children, art history, contemporary art, film, music, authors (including local authors), civics, employment and business ownership, finance and legal issues, local history, history of Indigenous Peoples and People of Color, lifestyle and recreation, language and literacy (including English for Speakers of Other Languages), writing, poetry, mental health, nature and environmental sustainability, parenting, technology, and alternative pathways to education. The library will continue its strong commitment to STEM programming for children. We currently offer a monthly STEM activity as well as drop-in and take-home STEM projects.
A goal of the FY22 Action Plan was to reach out to older teens and “new adults” through a series of programs germane to that demographic. We will maintain a commitment to this objective through programs on such topics as basic finances and survival skills for young adults, and through the ongoing activities of the FY21 LSTA gaming grant. This project was created to expand access and exposure to tabletop games, board games, and related crafting activities. Over 50 tabletop roleplaying games have been added to the library, and related programming will be provided. Family board games were also purchased to circulate, and a 3D printer was acquired, as detailed below.
3. Advance technologically
The library recently converted staff workflows and file sharing/storage to the cloud. It will continue work begun in 2021 to update the appearance, functionality, and content of its website so it meets the needs and expectations of the community.
A 3D printer was acquired as part of our FY21 LSTA grant and is being prepared for public use. Instructional materials will be created to allow patrons to submit their renderings for printing. The library plans to offer programming on 3D printing technology.
The recent pandemic has led many in our society to appreciate the benefits of online programs for remote attendees. We anticipate an ongoing demand for this accessibility, and we will meet it by offering hybrid in-person/online programs, using such technology as Zoom and an Owl camera and microphone device.
Funds have been requested from the town’s FY23 Data budget for the acquisition of hardware and software and to cover the town’s highly valued membership in the Minuteman Library Network. We will continue to recruit staff and volunteers with strong technology skills and develop the skills of current staff. We will provide time for staff to communicate with and learn from colleagues at other libraries about the latest in library technology.
4. Increase library visibility
Respondents to the survey for the 2016 strategic plan felt that library programs and services were not well advertised. Since then, the library has significantly increased information on its website, social media communications, flyers posted in the building and at area businesses and outdoor town kiosks, announcements via email lists (cited by many attendees as the most important channel through which they hear about programs), and press releases to the Beacon-Villager newspaper. We continue to seek new, creative, and unexpected ways to spread the word about the many offerings available to the community from its library. The library recently launched its first logo to increase visibility and make it easier for members of the community to identify items that relate to the library.
We will build on recent efforts to take the library out of 77 Nason Street and bring it to other venues in the form of “roadshows” and booths, with the goal of making it easier for people to sign up for library cards, access books and other materials, and learn about programs and services. We have begun by visiting a retirement community and having a presence at a local festival. We will identify additional venues for events, programs, and information tables, including local businesses and food pantries. Holding events at local businesses can serve as a way of not only boosting library visibility but helping business owners attract more customers as they recover from the effects of COVID.
The library’s homebound delivery service grew significantly during the COVID pandemic. Staff now make an average of 12 deliveries per month of library materials to patrons. We plan to continue this level of service and involve an additional staff member in providing it.
5. Improve staffing patterns
In the Town of Maynard’s 2020 Master Plan, Goal NCH3-1 is to “ensure the Maynard Public Library has the staffing resources necessary to continue to provide the many services and events it offers, to maintain its role as a hub for community group engagement, and to function as a repository of reference materials related to Maynard’s heritage.” To add staffing resources, the library has requested additional hourly staff funding in the FY23 budget. A primary responsibility of this hourly personnel will be to support existing and new programs as we strive to meet the programming goals outlined above. We will keep the Select Board and Town Administrator apprised of the need for this staffing and the results and benefits the community derives from it.
6. Improve outreach to underserved communities: English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
In the library’s 2016 strategic-planning process, residents for whom English is not a first language were identified as a population that was underserved by library programming and holdings. According to the latest census data available, 11% of persons aged 5 years+ in Maynard have a language other than English spoken at home. The Friends of the Library received a $15,000 grant from Middlesex Savings Bank, and the funds have been dedicated to World Languages collections, services, and programs. The collection has so far focused exclusively on Spanish-language materials. The library will expand it to include Portuguese and Mandarin, as well as bilingual books. The format focus has been books, and the library will expand that to include periodicals, audiobooks, ebooks, DVDs, and online resources.
Other proposed uses for the World Languages grant funds are programming presented by speakers of Spanish and other languages; welcome and directory signage in multiple languages; mailings in multiple languages to Maynard residents to provide information about library services, collections, and programs; and Citizenship Toolkits from USCIS.
The library now offers card application forms in Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish. We are working with a non-profit ESOL organization to resume in-person tutoring and conversation circles at the library in 2022. The library staff also plans to create a World Languages Collection web page.
The Library Director will attend meetings of the Advisory Council of First Connections, a non-profit service for families with children in local towns including Maynard. Through relationships like this one, the library can identify more ways to be of assistance to underserved members of the community, whether it’s on our own or in partnership with other organizations and agencies. We will seek to have a library presence at Open Table food pantry and send targeted mailings to low-income neighborhoods so we can communicate directly with members of the community to learn their needs and interests.
7. Partner with other Town agencies
Many respondents to the survey for Maynard’s 2020 master plan identified the library as one of the main places where they look for town information. We plan to continue playing this role and find additional ways to connect residents with their local government and community. We will work with heads of other town departments to identify ways in which the library could be useful in this effort.
The library is currently partnering with the Assabet Valley Innovation Alliance to offer youth innovation programs. As soon as the pandemic allows, we will restart our joint programming with the Council on Aging, with whom we have a strong and productive relationship. We will continue to seek similar partnerships, as well as working closely with other town departments and agencies. In addition to attending monthly meetings of department heads, the Library Director now serves on a communications subcommittee of the town’s Economic Development Committee. The library will continue meeting with other town departments to identify ways to work together, implementing suggestions from other departments, and sponsoring meetings of town departments and committees at the library.
8. Maintain library facility
Upcoming goals for the library facility include repainting of library interiors, carpet replacement, phone hardware upgrades, exterior masonry and brick repair, HVAC improvements to address humidity, and sustaining the recently launched Library Landscape Initiative. The library now has frequent and effective communications with the Department of Public Works, including monthly meetings with the Assistant Facilities Manager to set goals and check on the status of tasks and projects. The library will invite the town’s Capital Planning Committee to meet at 77 Nason Street and discuss projects that would be important to add to the town’s long-term capital plan.
In FY23, budget allowing, we will consider adding a part-time janitorial staff position dedicated to the library. Currently the library has a contract with a part-time cleaning service, and some maintenance issues are coordinated by the Town Facilities Manager. Cleaning services have not always been addressed in a timely and satisfactory manner. The proposed solution would be to create a 15-hour/week position as part of the library staff, eliminating the need for a contracted cleaning service.
II. Strengthen the Library’s Financial Status
For FY23, in addition to requesting the state-required 2.5% increase in its budget, the library requested increases in its separate building and grounds budget to cover heating costs and potential increases in vendor fees. The funds that comprise the 2.5% increase in the library’s general budget are focused primarily on hourly staffing and secondarily on materials.
Across Massachusetts, public libraries receive, on average, between 1.2 and 2.0% of municipal budgets. Maynard currently funds its library at 1.36%, continuing a trend of declining investment by the Town. The library will work toward a stronger financial position by:
Requesting that the annual library budget be increased to 1.5% of general fund budget by FY24.
Meeting with the Town Administrator and Select Board to articulate budgetary needs.
Ensuring budget submittal includes appropriate increase over the previous fiscal year.
Meeting with the Finance Committee as needed to explain budget requests.
Studying and applying for grants offered at the federal, state, and local level, including applying for at least one Maynard Cultural Council grant annually.
Requesting funding for library programs from the Friends of the Maynard Public Library as appropriate.