Gibson Memorial Library Director David Hargrove presented the results of the Edge library survey to board members during their regularly scheduled meeting Monday.
Edge is an initiative funded by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation that provides an assessment tool that show libraries ways to improve community access to technology services. Through the assessment, libraries can see where their strengths and weaknesses are in the use of digital technology, such as the availability of digital learning tools, career assistance and the availability of online materials.
“To address the findings could be the basis of a lot of valuable programs and services,” said Hargrove, “but, we need to decide if we want to act on all fronts or make more strategic plans. Many deficiencies could be addressed by cleaning up, reorganizing and adding content to the website.”
Hargrove said library staff is always reevaluating the technological devices and library holdings.
“We’ll soon install a new circulation system that will be more user-friendly for staff and patrons,” said Hargrove. “It includes a virtual reference service that will also enable patrons to text renewal requests on their checked-out materials. It will be more secure and reliable, with regular updates.”
New digital downloads are always being added to the online holdings at the library. Last month, the number of downloads for e-books and audio books increased by 35 percent. The library currently has a dozen computers available for public use, portable devices can be loaned for in library use, robots for children’s programming and coding classes and free wi-fi in and around the library.
Hargrove said in the last three years, the internet and download speed at the library has increased more by 400 percent and will see another increase soon.
Based on the results of the survey, Hargrove and his staff will begin putting together a plan for further improvements to the libraries technology services. These plans will include changes to the website, network and staff education to improve the ability to assist with digital literacy.
“I suspect we’ll identify and pursue some strategic partnerships within the community that extend and enhance our current programs and services,” said Hargrove. “Above all, our concrete response will be a big component of our next long-term strategic plan, which is due at the state library in the coming year. With the exception of building a new addition to the library, we’ve accomplished most of the goals on our last (2015) long-term plan.”