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Clifton Park Library to conduct survey

Clifton Park Library to conduct survey

Officials seek public input on improvements to its space, collection, services and programs
Clifton Park Library to conduct survey
The exterior of the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library is shown.
Photographer: Gazette File Photo

CLIFTON PARK — The Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library has announced it will be conducting a survey this month. Its purpose is to gauge the public's opinion on improvements that could be made to the library over the next few years.

This is the second survey of this type the library has conducted in recent years. In 2016, the library conducted its first survey to start planning for both short-term and long-term improvements that could be brought to the space. This new survey will be very similar, library officials said.

“We had such a great response when we did this in 2016. We listened to what the public wanted to see at the library in terms of space, programs, and our collection,” said Library Director Alex Gutelius. “We knew we could not move forward with the next phase of our strategic plan without feedback from our loyal patrons.”

In 2016, the library reached out to the public for ideas to help plan the library's future. More than 1,000 people participated in-person or through an online survey. Those ideas helped form the library’s strategic plan and the library board and staff have been working to meet those goals over the last three years.

Jim Foster, assistant director at the library, said Wednesday that as a highly utilized public space, it's crucial that it continue to evolve beyond simply a place for people to find books or movies.

"People are as interested in our space as they are in our books," he said. "There's tutors everywhere, there's kids, the meeting rooms are used all of the time."

When developing the original survey, he said, part of the desire to glean public input came from the fact that, as recently as a few years ago, there was less of a direct line of communication between the public who use the library every day, and the library staff.

In previous focus groups, he said, sometimes the library would receive feedback asking to implement programs or things the library already did, but that library patrons didn't necessarily know about.

The resulting strategic plan for the library made certain all interested parties were on to the same page, Foster said, and the survey this time around will be similar so the library can get a measure of how far it's come, and what could be improved upon.

Lou Ann Stewart, assistant director of planning and communication at the library, said last Tuesday that as time has gone on and the library has evolved, the organization's role as a community partner has become more and more important.

"We just really try to nurture those community connections. We've made great strides," she said. "We have a lot of community members who use our community rooms every day."

From the last survey, the library was able to formulate an official list of goals to work toward which included facilitating connections and collaborations, utilizing the space in a way more conducive to being available for more people, and bringing in new relevant programs, including active shooter drills.

Other implementations, such as new WiFi, a small cafe in the library and accessible bike locks, have also been added over the last three years. The library has continued its partnerships with local entities including the town of Clifton Park, CAPTAIN and the Shenendehowa Central School District.

"There's a lot that we've done in a short period of time," Stewart said.

Helping the library in its drive to be a true community resource and partner is its central location in town. As a result, it has become a natural meeting place for a variety of different organizations, with staff also being able to quickly get to other locations to conduct off-site programs.

"Our vision is that we are at the heart of the community. This building is here for them," she said.

The second survey will be available in the library and on its website beginning Aug. 12. Library patrons will have until Sept. 3 to respond to the survey. While the surveys are anonymous, those who are willing to provide their name and contact information will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad Mini.

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