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Library focus group takes aim at future needs

July 04, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- What does the library mean to you? What do you want it to be in the future?

Library officials are seeking answers to these questions and more through surveys and two focus groups planned for 5-6:30 p.m., and 7-8:30 p.m., July 12 at the library, 304 South St.

"We are formulating a new strategic plan and are doing surveys and conducting two focus groups as a means of collecting data on how residents envision the library," said Library Director Paula Gauthier, who is joined on a data collection committee by Julie Fikes, Robin Loughlin and Tonja Brice. "We are collecting data from library users on what services they see as needs."

Library employees began distributing surveys to library visitors June 25 and an online survey at is available through the end of today, July 7. The survey asks why respondents typically use the library; how convenient services are, what new or expanded services would improve the library; and more. Respondents are given choices to select from.

The focus groups will be facilitated by Dr. Charlaine Ezell, with each group limited to 12 participants. Volunteers are still needed. Ezell will use data from the completed surveys to get more detailed answers from focus group members.

"We want to take a hard look at data from library users before making any strategic decisions," said Gauthier. "As the library evolves, we have to decide what new services to provide and which will be replaced. What can we do for our community that we're not doing now?"

Gauthier said as digital book offerings expand, the library will need less shelf space, and could offer "maker labs," with video labs, recording studios, and places for people to create a wide variety of items in hands-on, participatory events with more of a free exchange of cultural ideas.

"We will still be the great equalizer," said Fikes. "Andrew Carnegie called libraries the common man's university. That is what we still are. Those who want to engage in lifelong learning use the library."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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