2014-03-28 / Community

Library Links

Doors are open to communicate
By Kevin Davis

So, you’re a regular user of the library (or maybe not so much) and you have a thought to share with us, be it a compliment or concern, or maybe even just a question about how (or why) we do the things we do. What do you do? As your community’s library, we always welcome feedback and provide several channels through which our community can pass on comments, ask questions or otherwise engage us in discussion about the library and its services. I’d like to take the opportunity in this column to talk about several of these and hopefully, make you aware of just how important – and welcome – your input is to us.

Library staff

First and foremost, the front line library staff are always available to hear your comments or to direct you to the appropriate person to speak with. These are the folks you most frequently encounter, whether it is at our circulation desks, presenting programs, shelving books or otherwise out and about within the libraries. I am lucky to work with a great group of knowledgeable and capable people, so you should never hesitate to connect with any staff person you encounter – if they don’t have an answer, they can certainly point you in the right direction.

Library director

That’s me, and I am very accessible. If you use the “Contact us” page on the library’s website, all messages go directly to me. This is the surest way to reach me, as the city keeps me tethered to email pretty much at all times. Many of the library’s users have been surprised to get an immediate response from me when they have sent an email in the middle of the night. I don’t always guarantee an immediate response such as that, but it has been known to happen. Outside of email, if you call the main library, my direct extension is listed as part of the phone tree and you can always leave a message for me if I am not available to pick up. While I am not often at the front desk, I am usually at the main library and, if I am free, am happy to talk – just ask for me at the front desk and library staff will check on my availability.

Library advisory board

You may have seen mention of the library advisory board, whether during the appointments section of a city council meeting, or in postings about meetings at the library. It is a board comprised of citizen volunteers who work closely with the library director to shape and guide the library’s policies and service offerings. The board is comprised of seven members – one appointed by each member of the city council. As with the city council, five of the advisory board’s members represent one of each of the city’s five voting districts, while the remaining two members serve at-large, representing no particular district.

The board serves both as a citizen conduit into the library’s operation, as well as a sounding board for the library staff, helping us to develop new (and adjust existing) policies and service offerings. The board meets six times a year, and the meetings are always open to the public.

For me, it has been an exciting time to work with members of this board. We have recently discussed ideas to re-energize the library’s Friends group and will soon begin the process of assessing the library’s facilities and establishing a new strategic plan for the library. I expect you will be hearing more about these efforts in coming months.

Friends of the South Portland Public Library

While not a communications conduit, per se, the friends organization does provide a very real way in which you can help support the library, either through volunteering your time for a friends’ activity, or through financial support. Don’t have a particular question, comment or concern? The Friends is a great way for you to be involved and offer your support for the library.

Another idea I have considered, and would very much like your feedback on, is the possibility of having a series of Meet with the Director open houses. I envision these as being regular (perhaps monthly) informal get-togethers over light refreshments, where the public can come in and meet with me, other library staff and/or library advisory board members, for an informal chat about the library and its services. If this sort of forum sounds interesting to you, please let me know through the library’s “Contact us” page on SouthPortlandLibrary.com.

As you can see, there are many ways that you can communicate with us here at the library. If you’ve got a comment, question or concern, please let us know.

Kevin Davis is director of South Portland Public Library.

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