Blogger Meg Smith

How Does Your Library Grow?

“Children’s Librarian, Children’s Librarian, how does your library grow? With continuing development and innovative programming and pretty furniture all lined up in a row?” This simple twist to the classic nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” points to the growth necessary for our libraries’ survival if we are to continue our impact and ensure our longevity. With many of us facing increasing responsibilities and shrinking budgets, it may be natural to feel that growth is simply impossible. There may be, however, some practical ways we all can enhance the services and resources we provide for children, their families, and our communities. How does your library garden grow?

Our community branch library received a major renovation this past summer, funded in part through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant in partnership with Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, NC.  A staff office was turned into a conference room that has quickly become a popular choice for customers to reserve for meetings. We have also just recently added smart board technology to this space that our patrons may use.  Our computer lab was turned into a staff office, and the adult lab was brought out into the main collection. 

(Photo courtesy of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center)
(Photo courtesy of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center – Hope Mills Branch Library, Hope Mills, NC)

While the majority of the makeover took place last August, we have recently made some additional improvements to our facility. Bulky, big tables have just been replaced by smaller, more modern seating arrangements for individuals and small groups. We have also received new chairs for our story time caregivers and have added smaller tables to our children’s department to allow for better seating for our youngest customers.

The renovations are not over yet.  While our walls have been freshly painted, we are looking into the possibility of adding a mural to our children’s department to create an even more child-friendly space. Have you brought in new technology, added furniture, or changed the layout of your library? Physical improvements are definitely one way our libraries may continue to grow. 

(Photo courtesy of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center)
(Photo courtesy of the Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center – Hope Mills Branch Library, Hope Mills, NC)

Growth may also be achieved by enhancing our library services and resources. Programming is a central component to our work as children’s librarians. Our “Rhythm and Rhyme” story time, designed for children with autism, Down syndrome, sensory-processing disorder, and language-delays, was first developed by our youth services librarian at our community branch. This programming has now been implemented at all eight of our library locations.  Perhaps there is a program you have created that has been presented at another library branch or story time resources you have shared with a colleague at a workshop, conference, or retreat. Shifting our programming focus or changing our format can be a rather easy way we can ensure that our services continue to evolve without breaking our budget.

Continuing education and professional development opportunities also help employees grow professionally. Our Cumberland County Leadership Development Training Team has coordinated a variety of workshops that are required for all county employees. This training program has continued to evolve in recent years, and now staff members receive a three year training catalog of available courses they may attend as part of the county’s leadership development and certification program.  Is there a training you have taken that has helped you to grow in your career?

Growth doesn’t have to be costly or painful, but it is required as we desire to provide the best possible resources for children. Your ideas can help all of us as we continually discover how we can best serve the families we work for each day.  How have you and your library recently grown for your community? Please share in the comments below!


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