What should libraries of the 21st century be like? What are your dreams for your community and your public library? Your input is essential in envisioning a future for this integral institution in our community. In April, the Santa Monica Public Library will host five open community forums designed to engage all Santa Monicans in dialogues about moving the library forward.

Santa Monica Public Library has served our community’s informational and educational needs since 1890. We began as a small reading room on Third Street and have grown to become the five exciting libraries you know and love today. As you can imagine, a lot has changed in libraries in the past 125 years!

“Today’s libraries are vibrant physical and virtual centers of discovery, learning, knowledge, creation, inspiration, and community engagement. Library staff are experts on research, 21st-century skills for all ages, emergent literacy, readers’ advisory, user experiences, and user technologies,” said Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter, Director of Library Services.

In recent years, the library has focused its planning efforts around facilities, including opening the downtown Main Library in 2006, renovating the Ocean Park Library and the Montana Avenue Library in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and opening the Pico Library in 2014. This summer, it will be the Fairview Library’s turn for a renovation. Now that these projects are coming to a close, it is a key time to revisit our programs and services and learn more about what our community wants and needs.

We are now undertaking a major strategic planning process, with the end result being an informed, fine-tuned, innovative plan for the next three years. The strategic plan will support the library’s mission “to provide resources, services and a place to encourage the community to read, connect, relax, and learn.” It will also be aligned with the City of Santa Monica’s work plan and goals.

A strategic plan is much more than just a document. It provides a compelling vision for all involved to move forward as a team. It also takes into account the community’s needs, the organization’s values, and elaborates on goals, objectives, and measures of success. Over the next nine months, Santa Monica Public Library staff, Library Board members, volunteers and the public will collaborate with Organization Development Consultant Maureen Sullivan to create our strategic plan.

The strategic planning process unofficially commenced in November as part of our yearly system-wide staff training session, where library staff envisioned what our library system of the future would be like. This was followed by an official kickoff led by Maureen Sullivan on March 5.

We are thrilled that 93 percent of library users who completed our 2014 annual survey are satisfied with the Santa Monica Public Library. Now we want to hear more from all of you to ensure that our services and programs enrich our community.

Please join us at any of these upcoming forums where you can share your hopes and aspirations for the community and for the library’s future. Refreshments will be served. For more information, visit smpl.org or call (310) 458-8600.

The Santa Monica Public Library is wheelchair accessible. For special disabled services, call Library Administration at least one week prior to event at (310) 458-8606.

LIBRARY COMMUNITY FORUMS — PLEASE JOIN US!

Wednesday, April 8
o 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Ocean Park Library, 2601 Main St.

Thursday, April 9
o 10:30 a.m. to noon at Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.
o 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Montana Library, 1704 Montana Ave.

Wednesday, April 22
o 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Fairview Library, 2101 Ocean Park Blvd.

Thursday, April 23 (Un intérprete estará disponible)
o 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Pico Library, 2201 Pico Blvd.

Stephanie Archer is the Acquisitions Librarian for Santa Monica Public Library. She is a member of the Library’s Strategic Planning Resources and Communications Committee.

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