Building For The Future

January 2013

How do you plan for a future that you can't predict or, more precisely, how do you build a library today that works tomorrow? Is it a matter of seeing the past as a model for the future and following familiar footsteps or using that knowledge to chart a new course? Today's uncertain economy makes these concerns non-issues for many libraries. Many libraries do not have the luxury of planning for change. Not so the Mathews Memorial Library for, as we have discovered, the community has demonstrated their support through their generosity in ensuring that the library continues to grow and serve the community. For this we are more than grateful, we are humbled by the trust that citizens bestow upon those of us who are charged with providing library service.

Like many libraries, we face the challenge of meeting the needs and expectations of 21st Century users. Recognized for taking an innovative approach to library service, the Mathews library believes today's patrons expect, and deserve, to have more than strictly access to information. In particular, when creating special places and charting programs for children and teens, we must adhere to principles that provide multi-layered experiences, foster anticipation and wonder, engage all the senses, offer paths to pride and accomplishment and, equally important, offer refuge where they can regroup to rest their bodies and their minds.

Our goal is to utilize the added space from the planned expansion in a way that provides a more attractive, patron-oriented environment sufficiently flexible to change over time. Virtual space is also a part of the vision. Information that is digital can be available anywhere, anytime and can be retrieved using today's electronic tools. With the planned creation of an "E-Branch" encompassing service to all ages, the library hopes to expand patrons' literary and information environment.

2013 should prove to be an exciting year for the library as we take a fresh look at how best to provide a patron-focused environment that is conducive to learning as well as being a cultural center for community activities. While it is not practical to think that we can be all things to all people, we aspire to continue to be among those libraries that offer the best to the communities they serve.