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Library unveils long-term strategic plan

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 27, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Officials at Clinton-Macomb Public Library are taking a deep dive into what makes the library system tick, as well as where there is room for improvement.

CMPL Director Larry Neal, in the library’s most recent newsletter, stated that aggregated data collected from more than 5,200 library users in a 2017 survey illustrated the need to develop a long-term plan for the future of the library and what it offers the local communities.

“We are always looking at the future and how we can best serve the changing needs of our residents,” Neal later said. “Every year we develop an annual action plan of goals for the year ahead, but it was time to take a fresh, multiple-year view of the library, the community and the future.”

He credited community support to a successful 2014 millage proposal, which has provided positive fiscal opportunities in relation to delivering excellent library service.

However, with continued growth comes other realizations. For example, Neal noted how work on a new, larger facility in Macomb Township is underway due to a rising population there. Even the main branch, on Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township, is turning 15 years old this year and officials must figure out how to remain meticulous in doling out space.

“We are also becoming increasingly aware of the needs to help support kids to ensure they read at grade level, and to address the growing number of seniors in our service area,” he added.

Even in the digital age, 96 percent of individuals agreed that reading and learning are synonymous with a library’s success. People can learn and transform in different ways nowadays, though. Currently, 30,000, or 15 percent of residents, are age 65 or older. That number is expected to climb to 23 percent by 2030.

Since approximately 90 percent of a human’s brain development occurs between birth and age 3 — there are about 18,000 individuals in the community who fit that demographic — CMPL is continuing to work to grow young leaders. There are estimates that 50 percent of third-grade students in the library’s service area do not read at their grade level.

“We see learning to read and reading to learn as essential skills for a successful, thriving community. … The library can play an important role in helping parents and caregivers ensure they are doing everything they can to develop those skills,” Neal said. “Of course, the library can also offer a safe, fun and welcoming environment where people can do that with their neighbors and other members of the community like and unlike themselves. We also hope that people incorporate reading and learning as habits throughout their lives.”

CMPL serves about 25,000 residents between the ages of 10 and 19. Providing a face-to-face community space is one way to advance student success.

Also, with more than 13,000 visits and community meetings taking place every week, making aspects like free broadband internet, including Wi-Fi, is beneficial.

Jamie Morris, head of community relations at CMPL, described the plan as a “road map” in terms of what will be focused on in the coming years.

“I think it will help us zero in our focus on specific things that will be beneficial to the community, such as a focus on lifelong learning opportunities and advancing student success in our service area,” Morris said. “CMPL has always focused on these areas, but I think that the strategic plan will be a wonderful guide as we expand services and offerings to the public. It will help us stay true to the mission of the library and continue to offer the same great service and materials, while expanding our efforts in certain areas.”

Neal said residents should be seeing progress on an ongoing basis, and the strategic plan is already in full swing.

“The app is certainly a big project, and the new North Branch is another,” he said. “The Library Matters newsletter and Library Matters Monthly newsletter are great ways to keep informed about new services and the large variety of programs being offered at the library.”