My system is rethinking, relaunching, and rediscovering what our community and neighborhoods are like right now, and how the library can fit into our local communities. It feels like the perfect time to start this work, as our neighborhoods have been pretty closed off the last couple of years to keep us safe. I warned my staff when our fiscal year started in October, that pretty much all they would hear from me this year is the word: Resetting. And that word is perfect as a launch to reset yourself in the community, and reconnect.
I work in a large system, and we have specific service maps for each neighborhood library. These maps were created about 6 years ago, and what now feels like a million years ago. As I start this work as a manager, I want to find ways for my staff to connect with the community and think about where and how we provide service. To that end, I created a little assignment that might be fun and useful for your locations, as well!
I looked at our local service map, and divided it into 5 quadrants. I chose buddies (2 people) to work on each quadrant. I tried to think through who might enjoy working together, or might live in closer locations, or who had a car to expedite some of this work.
I asked for the following:
- Look at your service map section. Discuss with your partner a plan for tackling your section, and/or your thoughts about your section.
- Take some time to walk around and explore your section area (1-2 hours).
- Talk to your partner, and decide if your section still makes sense. Should we expand our reach? Or maybe another library seems easier/closer to get to, and we should shrink our coverage area?
- Make a list of potential partnerships/community agencies in your service area (at least 2-3) each.
- Create a new map or redraw your lines- highlighting the places that you think could be potential partners.
- Amy will collect maps and share at an upcoming meeting.
I photocopied my delineation of everyone’s sections, and handed them out to each staff member. We will coordinate time off the desk for them to complete this work, both in exploration and in map creation. So far, my staff have really been excited to get out of the branch and see some of the community. It’s great weather for walking around!
While this assignment is partly coming from admin, I did want to find a way to put my own spin on it. I also believe that this will be meaningful for the staff who spend so much time with our community, but can be limited to who shows up at our physical location. I’m hoping it will give all staff the opportunity to look for more possibilities, and connect with each other in a more engaging way.
Even if you don’t have to complete this assignment, I think others would benefit in taking a moment to walk around your neighborhoods, think critically about who you have “always” connected with, and who you might be missing out on. This might be your opportunity to reintroduce yourself to your community. Have you created a service map of your community before? Please share if you have any best practices!
If you would like some more community sponsored ideas, read Municipal Partnerships: Making the Most of Your City or Growing a Partnership- Public Libraries and Public Transportation.