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Public input sought in next chapter for local library


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The Johnson County Public Library is working on a five-year plan for its services, programs and buildings and is asking what the community wants.

Library officials want to know how people use the library and what they’d like added, director Beverly Martin said. The library board is gathering public input that will help shape a plan for the future of the countywide library system.

The library board is getting public comments while developing a new long-term plan for all four branches. The library’s 2005 plan called for a new branch in Trafalgar, which was built, and a bigger branch in Franklin, which was voted down in a referendum last year. The library is required by state law to put a new five-year plan in place and already has conducted two meetings to hear what residents have to say about what the library should do next about building improvements and services.

Under the law, libraries can’t get state funding unless they come up with three- or five-year plans that include an assessment of facilities, measurable objectives and a statement of community needs and goals.

Library plans

The Johnson County Public Library is updating its long-term plan.

What: Five-year plan for services, programs and buildings that would identify any building improvements

Status: The current plan expires this year, and state law requires that libraries have three- to five-year plans in place to get state funding.

Current plan: The soon-to-expire plan called for a new Franklin branch, but voters rejected plans for a new $30 million downtown branch project in a referendum last spring.

Feedback: Residents can weigh in on what the library should do in the future by dropping off comment cards at any of the branches, attending an upcoming meeting or emailing nextchapter@jcplin.org.

If you go

The Johnson County Public Library board is gathering input for a new five-year plan for programs and all four branches. Residents can email their ideas to nextchapter@jcplin.org, drop comments off at all four branches or attend the following meetings:

Trafalgar

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Trafalgar branch, 424 Tower St.

New Whiteland

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 21

Where: Clark Pleasant branch, 530 Tracy Road, Suite 250, New Whiteland

Residents’ feedback will be used to determine what programs the library should offer, what technology the branches should have and what renovations or other building projects are needed at the four branches.

“We want to hear ideas for the future use of the libraries and how they use the library today,” Martin said. “It’s open-ended about the future.”

The library hired consulting firm Excelleration Inc. for $30,000 to come up with a plan for services, programs, staffing and facilities, and the firm plans to offer multiple opportunities for the public to weigh in.

The ideas people share could result in immediate changes, such as the drive-through book return that was installed at the White River branch after suggestions from the public, Martin said.

Their comments and thoughts also will help shape the new long-term plan, which will determine what improvements should be made at the Franklin, White River Township, New Whiteland and Trafalgar branches.

The planning also comes months after three-fourths of voters rejected a $30 million plan that involved building a 70,000-square-foot library and a parking garage in downtown. The library board then decided to take another look at needs at all four branches.

In the months after the referendum failed, the board asked for public input at two public meetings at the White River Township and Franklin branches. Residents offered a variety of comments, including that the library of the future could have fewer books on the shelves and that technology will lead residents to use libraries differently.

“Some of the themes of the comments were the impact digital shifts will have,” Martin said. “People are wanting more technology, employment assistance and learning opportunities.”

The library expects to have a second round of public meetings later in the year, Martin said. The board first will shape suggestions from the public into specific proposals for services, buildings and programs, she said.

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