Farmington Community Library Circulation Supervisor Megan Drozan gets ready to place three books into the library’s ultraviolet light sterilization machine.

Farmington Community Library Circulation Supervisor Megan Drozan gets ready to place three books into the library’s ultraviolet light sterilization machine.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Farmington Community Library takes one step closer to normal

Community survey, technology upgrades promise improvements

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 26, 2020

 Patrons visit the circulation desk at the Farmington Community Library’s Main Library branch, on 12 Mile Road. The Farmington Community Library has invested in plexiglass barriers and other safety and technology improvements.

Patrons visit the circulation desk at the Farmington Community Library’s Main Library branch, on 12 Mile Road. The Farmington Community Library has invested in plexiglass barriers and other safety and technology improvements.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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FARMINGTON/HILLS — Battling back against restrictions initially imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Farmington Community Library has taken one step closer to reinstating normal operations.

On Oct. 12, the library moved into phase four of its reopening plan, titled “Improving Library Services.” The library reopened to patrons under phase three, after initially closing March 14 due to the pandemic.

Phase four brings some changes, like hours of operations and computer and electronics use, but it also continues with other guidelines established during phase three.

New library hours are noon-7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.

Computers, as well as printing, scanning, copying and faxing services, are also now available.

A limited number of computers are available at each branch for 30-minute appointments. Staff assistance will be limited for all electronic services to ensure safety of staff and patrons, the library’s website states. Patrons must provide their own headphones or purchase a pair at the library for $1 via credit card if headphones are needed for computer use.

Patrons will still be asked to limit their visits to 30 minutes each. Study and meeting rooms, seating, and restrooms will still be unavailable. Face masks are required for patrons age 5 or older. Curbside pickup will continue to be an option for patrons under phase four.

Moving forward to phase four comes roughly a month after Library Director Riti Grover and library board members were presented with information from Cynthia Pepper, of Pepper Consulting Group, who conducted a staff and community member survey to better understand the current and future needs of the library.

The survey was sent out to 90,000 individuals with some stake in the library, from staff and patrons to community partners and organizations, but only 2,162 recipients responded in the two-week span given to submit responses.

From those findings, Grover and the library board have begun to assess and conceptualize technology improvements, infrastructure upgrades and other initiatives that they believe will improve the library.

“The findings regarding the community’s love for the library and the talent we have in our staff truly resonate (with) me,” Grover said in an email. “In order to ensure that we make our presence felt in every household of the community we serve now and for years ahead, the recommendations regarding marketing, innovation and best utilization of the existing talent in our organization could certainly help us serve our community with the rapidly changing demographics and utilization trends.

“We need to be able to reach out to those who have not yet discovered the magical world of libraries, make existing patrons more aware of the wide array of our collections (and) programs, and at the same time, evolve constantly to ensure FCL’s position as a leader in library services for years ahead.”

Some improvements that have already been implemented throughout the library system include the addition of a curbside communicator app to help with contactless pickup; installing credit card and self-checkout terminals; using a UV sterilizer to expedite the sanitization process of returned books and more quickly re-shelve them; procuring a 3-D printer; working with Gale Engage to collect and study patron analytics that promise to help library staff better target programs and offerings; and updating online payment processing systems for patrons and payroll technology for staff.

“We look forward to rolling out Microsoft 365, updated data and network security, and staff training for the 3-D printer in the near future,” Grover said.

Additional ideas for improvements have come by way of survey responses, Pepper explained via email — especially innovations ideal for operating in the middle of the current pandemic. Community members suggested that the library could make better use of its exterior spaces for programs like a healing garden, a children’s garden or storybook walks. They also suggested more specialized programming for specific affinity groups, such as having a genealogist program for those interested in their family history.

“Outreach into the community has been a strength of the library. We are looking for opportunities to magnify this effort,” Board President Jim White said via email. “The survey findings, as well as our Gale analytical tool, will enhance our ability to spot these opportunities. We can pursue more effective marketing. We can potentially find ways to serve people who have not used the library before.”

While other changes may be on the way for the library, White believes the survey results make one thing apparently clear — library patrons love their library staff.

“From a board perspective, I want staff members to have the right tools to do their best work. I believe (Pepper’s) recommendations are staff-positive, and I believe that the recommendations will help the library build even more and strong connections with our community. Staff will continue to be able to feel proud of this library and the services it provides,” he said.

Grover echoed White’s statements, adding that she continues to welcome feedback from the community as they become familiar with the changes being made.

“It’s truly my earnest hope that people will see the sincere efforts, take advantage of it and let us know if we made any difference in their lives, because they are a part of our existence every single day.”

For more information, visit farmlib.org.

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