With the help of two consultant groups, the Wheaton Public Library is hoping to get a better understanding of the community's needs and desires and create its first strategic plan.
The library board will vote Monday night to decide if the library will hire Turks Cap Consulting, LLC, at a cost of $6,750, to do a community needs assessment and strategic planning project.
Library Director Betsy Adamowski said Turks Cap plans to conduct an analysis of library use trends and demographic changes in the community. It also will issue a survey to library patrons, conduct at least 10 focus groups with various members of the community between April and May, and put together a strategic plan by the end of June.
"We never really ask the community what their needs are, what they want," she said. "We wanted to start a conversation with the community."
In recent years, Adamowski said, libraries have turned less into a place to read a book and more into a community hub.
"The reality is that people are using things more online. But then there are other things that the library has seen such an increase in," she said, adding that library is regularly used for community gatherings and meetings.
Adamowski said she hopes to get good and bad feedback from the community to learn not only about what the library is doing well, but even more importantly, to see where it can improve.
She said a strategic plan will help the library with its budget and grant applications.
In addition to the community feedback, the library recently hired another consulting group for $13,100 to re-evaluate the interior layout of the library and create a vision for how it can be better used for programing and other needs.
"We want to look at our space and make sure that we're actually using the space in the most efficient and current way that we can," Adamowski said.
That includes making room for the newly formed young adult and readers' advisory department and considering the addition of new spaces, such as multipurpose rooms.
Adamowski said she feels it is necessary and fiscally responsible for libraries to hire consultants, especially as the purpose of libraries continues to quickly evolve.
"It's focusing us to say 'Hey, we need to look at what we're doing and be sure we're going in the right direction,'" she said.