STRATEGIC PLAN – BLAIR PUBLIC LIBRARY
Approved by the Library Board April, 2016
The Blair Public Library’s staff, patrons, Library Board, Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library group contributed to the formation of this strategic plan. This plan is to be reviewed annually by the Library Board and the Library Director.
The Blair Public Library is committed to meeting the educational, informational, and cultural needs of the Blair community and Washington County residents. The Library is committed to providing:
- free and open access to a broad collection of materials in varied formats and media;
- professional assistance in locating, using, and evaluating resources; and programs for all ages that encourage reading, provide intellectual stimulation and cultural enrichment;
- a distinct collection of materials unique to the community and of special interest or historical value to its community members and community organizations; and
- A safe and pleasant environment in which to utilize the resources, services, programs and facilities of the library.
The Blair Public Library is the integral physical and virtual gateway by which our broad and diverse community may access information, congregate to freely exchange ideas, celebrate all forms of literacy and cultural growth in a leisurely yet lively atmosphere.
Blair Community Profile
The City of Blair, county seat of Washington County, Nebraska, is located along the Missouri River, approximately 20 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska. Nearby communities include Kennard, Herman, Arlington, and Missouri Valley, Iowa.
The population of Blair is 7,990, with approximately 97% of the population being white and approximately 3% of the population being another race. Of that 3%, the majority are of Hispanic/Latino heritage.
Blair promotes a strong education and currently houses three grade schools, one school that hosts fourth and fifth grades, a middle school and one high school. A look at the American Community Survey shows a total of 2,149 children aged preschool through college were enrolled in an educational institution. Upon graduation, 53.8% females continue to college as well as 38.5% of their male counterparts. The Blair Library keeps a close watch on how many children are enrolled in preschool through 12th grade. The 2014 number, which stays fairly steady from year to year, is 1,576 students (that the library serves regularly).
Language and Ethnicity
The English language is spoken in homes more than any other language. Leading the statistical race at 97.1%, the only other languages, spoken mostly by adults is Spanish and an Asian and Pacific Island language.
The majority of “the civilian employed population” are age 16 and older. There is a fair amount of versatility in types of employment, with health care and educational services boasting the largest work force of over 960 employees. Manufacturing, due to Cargill and its affiliates, employs over 450. Smaller groups are seen in food services, agriculture and professional services. The median household income is $51,098; with a mean income of $60,496. The majority of houses report earnings between $35,000 and $149,000. Even so, it is important to note that there is a 20.2% of families with children who are below poverty level.
The City of Blair has one library, one swimming pool, a privately owned golf course that is open to the public and several small neighborhood parks. There is a sports complex for soccer, baseball and softball use. A YMCA is available for those who wish to join, and there are service organizations such as The Kiwanis, The Rotary Club, The Optimist Club and The Lions Club. There is a large following in 4-H, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. A movie theatre is in town, however, is not always open.
Library S.W.O.T Analysis
- There is a qualified, trained staff and director that is friendly, helpful and encouraging to all patrons.
- The library performs outreach programming for all ages.
- Programs are well planned and have grown in popularity, bringing in strong numbers of attendees.
- The collection is well maintained and current.
- The library receives a strong budget from the city government, and receives donations and grants throughout the year to support programming.
- The library has a strong Friends group and Foundation which strives to create successful forward thinking and motion.
- The library continues to work with a shortage in staff. This in turn causes us to limit hours and programming.
- The building often provides challenges with faulty air conditioning, heating, air quality and size issues.
- The collection is marginalized by the size of the building. The is no room for expansion.
- Technology use is limited due to the type of building. For instance, wifi cannot be accessed in areas of the building.
- Funding is a weakness, as it can be an strength, depending on the economic climate and the direction the city directs its funds.
- The library is the only continual source of entertainment. There is no other major attractions.
- Adults need more help to complete resumes, learn technology, and communicate with their families.
- The library is often considered as a partner in community based events.
- The current facility limits the ability to teach and advance technology.
- A budget cut is always looming and city officials are constantly changing.
- The school system is creating an after school program which may pull patrons away from us.
- Omaha and Fremont are close enough to travel to and may interfere with our attendance.
To ascertain what the community needs of Blair are, the library conducted informal interviews throughout the last few years, two smaller surveys (which were held in the month of April, 2015 and 2016), and reviewed the results of the feasibility study conducted by The Stier group for the building project. The answers brought forth these results:
Community Need #1
Senior citizens have no location to gather and socialize. In addition, they need help understanding new technologies.
Goal: To increase connections with seniors in assisted living and in the community by holding social gatherings, “tech tours,” outreach programs and book talks, poetry reads, and story times for the elderly.
- Create a core group of senior volunteers to assist in planning activities for the current building and the new facility when opened. (2016-2017)
- Expand our senior outreach to include all senior assisted living facilities. Talk with the activity directors to see if story times, shared reading times with children, or tech assistance times would be needed, or wanted. (2016)
- Train the senior volunteers to help run the maker space and help conduct tech help for seniors or computer classes for seniors (2017-2018)
- Hold a minimum of four senior programs a month. (2016-2019)
Community Need #2
Younger patrons, ranging from third grade to twelfth grade, express the need for coding, robotics, and STEM programming. The school offers these courses to a limited spectrum of students and the rest of the student population goes without.
Goal: To provide qualified coding and robotics programming for students at the third grade level and higher.
- Research, build and outfit a maker space area where STEM programming can be held for all ages. (2016-2017)
- Create a core group of volunteers to assist in planning activities for the new facility when opened. (2016-2017)
- Open dialogue with the Blair Community Schools to enhance a collaborative effort for all students. (2017-2019)
- Work with the Blair Robotics club to teach younger children about robotics. (2017-2019)
- Hold a minimum of four STEM programs per month (2017-2019).
Community Need #3
The community is in need of meeting space for both library events and community events.
Goal: To increase the amount of meeting space available to the public.
- To design both small and large meeting spaces in the new facility and build the new spaces. (2016-2017)
- Create a policy for both large meeting spaces and smaller spaces, including but not limited to length of time used, cost of usage, technology usage and food and drink. (2017)
- To open the new meeting spaces by April, 2017.
Community Need #4
The community seeks help in learning life skills, which is no longer taught in the Blair public school system, along with help completing resumes and cover letters.
Goal: To create learning opportunities for all age levels regarding life skills and to provide information regarding employment.
- Partner with local banks to provide training/learning on finances such as balancing a checkbook, smart investing and saving, and basic budgeting. (2016-2019)
- Partner with the extension office and offer basic cooking and food preparation, sewing and car maintenance. (2016-2019)
- Partner with the local hospital and health care agencies to provide access to basic health information and basic care. (2016-2019)
- Hold resume and cover letter workshops. (2017-2019)
- Hold an annual job fair. (2017-2019)
Evaluation is an important tool in determining successes and failures. The library’s staff and director will carefully design and implement new programming. Statistics will be collected at all times. This strategic plan will be reviewed annually and an ongoing survey will be provided to the public as of April 2017 to assist in further strategic planning and to improve patron experiences. Goals and objectives will be reviewed at this time.
Addendum – Strategic Planning Process
Strategic Planning Team Members
Library Staff: Gayle Roberts (Director)
Wendy Lukert, Celeste Lux, Connie Hagedorn
Library Board: Pam Realph (President)
Beth Clarke, Becky Lacey, Carson Norine, Nancy Gabby
Library Foundation: JoEllen Maras (President),
Laurie Nelson, Jamie Folkers
Friends of the Library: Bill Lux (President)
Marilyn Abariotes, Julie Bugiel, Angel Martin, Alyssa Goodman
Community Members: Krystal Macholan
Each group listed above was asked the following questions: 1) What needs can the library help address within the community; 2) In what manner is the current building insufficient; and 3) What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the library.
The same questions were used twice, in April 2015 and April 2016, and given out to all the school children, aged 5-18, senior citizens in the assisted living communities, and all library patrons.
Informal interviews at community coffee caches, the donut shop, and service organization meetings were held throughout the year.
These responses spoke heavily towards increasing access to technology and increasing user space for tutoring, group study work, and recreational activities.
A larger, community based questionnaire was distributed by the Library Foundation prior to the new facility ground breaking. That survey asked what priorities should be placed and what needs should be addressed with a new facility. The highest scoring responses included increasing space for users and programs and improving patron’s access to technology.