Although he’s only been at the library for a few months, Will Rogers Library director Fernando Este is already looking ahead — far, far ahead.
“During the next 10 years, the library must anticipate increased usage as the county’s population continues to grow,” Este said. “Right now, the number of people in our service area exceeds 80,000, and there will be an increased demand for a variety of materials, services, and programs provided by a qualified staff and well-maintained facilities.”
Currently, the library serves 1,000 patrons on a daily basis, Este said, and growth is inevitable.
Dealing with that growth and what directions the library should take will be the topics of discussion next week and in early November, as Este develops a short-term and long-term vision for the library.
“The library will be closed on Tuesday, Oct. 24 for an inter-library retreat of sorts,” he said. “The library staff will discuss their thought and ideas on what kind of direction the library should go, and come up with a five-year plan for that vision.”
The following week, the public will get the chance to weigh-in with their opinions, as the library will close for business on Wednesday, Nov. 1, but welcome public input throughout the day.
“On the first of November, we’ll have probably four two-hour sessions to allow the public to give us feedback on what it wants from the library — the kinds of programs they want us to offer, the kind of challenges we need to address and the opportunities they want from us,” he said.
Among potential challenges the library may have to deal with in upcoming years are the possibility of restricted funding and how to address an increased need for new materials while dealing with a finite space.
“We’re currently operating at maximum capacity, with no place to grow,” Este said. “Space is definitely an issue we’ll have to address — our circulation statistics typically range from 9,000 to 14,000 items per month, with our most recently count of cardholders being almost 30,000.”
Additionally, the monthly average use of the library’s computers is nearly 1,000 patrons, with an increasing number of patrons.
“We need to come up with a strategy of how we’re going to address these issues, both short term and long term,” he said. “They’re not going to go away.”
Already, surveys inquiring about the public’s interest in new programs have started coming back to the library, but Este said he looks forward to getting input directly from the public about where they would like to see the library go in the future.
“Right now, the library is very collection-oriented, and we’re wanting to know what kind of programs people would be interested in us hosting,” he said. “As a public library, an important part of our function is to inform and educate people to make informed choices, and sponsoring informative programs would help in that respect.
“My own personal vision for the (Will Rogers) library is for it to become a place for members of the community to network — a place that provides lifelong learning for its patrons and to be a place where ideas and information are exchanged in every way possible,” he said.