Hicklin’s impressionistic approach to community assessment, as useful as it is, cannot uncover the full range of community wants, much less the total information needs. At some point, a more solid assessment of the community could provide more reliable indicators of what the library should be doing and how it can use technology to satisfy various–and perhaps very different–community needs. Eventually, the library director might also be able to use technology to determine those needs, particularly of residents who live in more remote parts of the county.
The library may not have a strategic plan, but this does not mean it lacks a course to follow. Under the guidance of the library director, the Livingston County Library will continue to lead efforts to create networking opportunities in the county and the region. This includes efforts to provide Internet access to individuals through a community information network, a commercial partnership with cable television, or other means. Even without specific plans, the library is dedicated to offering greater services and increased access, particularly through technology.
At the same time, however, the library’s success in increasing public access will bring new challenges. For example, some of the librarians are concerned about the amount of information on the Internet. There is a need to instruct users–especially children–how to evaluate the information they find for reliability and credibility. Also, as more patrons use the Internet, the library will have to develop solid strategic and contingency plan–for expansion of services, enhancement of technology, and new sources of funding–so that it can know more precisely where it is going and what resources it will need to get there.
From the publication Public Libraries, Communities, and Technology: Twelve Case Studies, published by The Council on Library Resources, ©1996. For more information contact
The Council on Library Resources, 1400 16th Street NW,
Suite 715, Washington DC, 20036. Phone (202) 939-3370. Fax (202) 939-3499.