Improving literacy of all kinds through partnerships and programming is a big part of the Kitchener Public Library’s strategic plan spanning the next several years.
The plan was formed in conjunction with a recent community engagement process that resulted in 4,100 responses.
“Some of our largest libraries in the province don’t get that kind of engagement, so we’re really thrilled to see the community is that interested in what we’re doing,” said the library's chief executive officer Mary Chevreau.
In recent years, the library has launched a new logo and mobile-friendly website, a community-wide pop-up library and Wi-Fi hot spot lending program, 3D printers, a virtual reality station and live music performances.
“Before this engagement study, we thought we did an OK job talking about what we do and what we offer, but it’s clear we aren’t getting the message out enough and so we’re trying to do that and provide services, tools and content in a different way than we ever have before,” Chevreau said.
“I think what we’re really trying to do is address literacy of all forms — print literacy, digital literacy, arts literacy — anything where there’s a learning component.”
Continuing with its Studio Central fundraising campaign to assist people with audio/visual production, the library is in the process of creating a lending library for musical instruments that’s expected to be completed mid-year, along with new a digital marketing strategy and programs aimed at bridging the digital divide.
The library recognizes many people lack access to the tools required to bring their dreams to life.
“You can’t even apply for a job these days without technology,” said Chevreau, who added that libraries are no longer about consuming content, but also creating it.
Providing the latest in technology and learning opportunities is an important part of the new strategic plan and the library’s ongoing commitment to ensure digital literacy is a possibility for everyone.
To that end, the library plans to implement outcome-based program measurements and will continue to partner with the Toronto Public Library to assess the impact of technology-related programs and recommend new initiatives.
Enhancing and expanding partnerships will also be a big part of the plan moving forward that sees the library continuing to evolve as a virtual nucleus of community programs and services.
The KPL will be working with Grand River Cancer Centre that offers a fledgling resource library in need of help, Chevreau said.
“We’ll be working with them to become embedded in the cancer centre to some degree to manage the inventory and circulation of the collection,” she said.
A new “Ion Reads” partnership is also expected to launch in 2018 as an opportunity to work with the LRT system to promote the library, Chevreau said.
“Down the road we would love to even have kiosks at the stops where people can download books and music and use the library in that way,” she said.
Plans for a new southwest community library will also be fleshed out in the years ahead.
With about $10 million set aside in the city’s capital budget from 2019-2021, the new branch will likely be meshed with a local school, community or recreation centre, as it is in other locations.
“We hope that we’ll colocate again with that kind of partner, and it’s just really getting down to that period in the process where we’re finalizing discussions and conversations to see what the best partnership will be for that particular community,” Chevreau said.