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updated: 1/27/2011 6:09 PM

Carol Stream Library looking at long-range plan

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Carol Stream Public Library officials are considering hiring an outside consultant to assist with long-range planning.

But the proposal faces resistance from some library board trustees who say such planning could be done in-house for less money.

The library has received two proposals for outside consulting work -- one for $9,000 and the other for $12,000.

Library Director Ann Kennedy said those price tags are higher than expected, but she still believes an outsider is needed to conduct focus groups and brainstorming sessions in the community. The consultant would pull together information from interviews with teenagers, seniors and leaders from the school and business communities.

"We want more information from the community (instead of us) just sitting around the table and doing long-range planning," Kennedy told board members Tuesday.

Library staff members have put together long-range plans about every three years, but Kennedy said their time has been increasingly stretched thin as the library has grown more crowded. There have been increases in reference requests and circulation, she said.

"At this point I feel like we need to bring in a more knowledgeable and expert person to handle it, as staff is not coming up with any great ideas now," Kennedy said in an interview. "We're trying to get a feel for what the community wants."

Trustee Michael Wade said he found a long-range planning workbook online that shows how other libraries went through the process in-house.

"It could be easily assimilated to this library," Wade said.

Trustee Tom Arends said Carol Stream could look at how other libraries have done planning without hiring a consultant.

But board President Robert Douglas said the issue would be revisited in the summer -- after the April election, when new members of the library board will take office. Five candidates, including incumbents Arends and James Outland, are running to fill three available 4-year terms. Two candidates, including incumbent Jim Bailey, are seeking to fill a single 2-year seat. Incumbent Barbara Siegman, who indicated support for an outside consultant Wednesday, isn't seeking re-election.

Kennedy said she will propose that allocations for long-range planning be included in next fiscal year's budget, which begins May 1.