HENDERSON, Ky. — The Henderson County Public Library long ago ceased to be a place where you only went to borrow books.
But what could it become in the next few years? You could help decide that.
The library is launching a series of community vision sessions, beginning this Tuesday, January 25, to help it develop a new five-year strategic plan.
“The last plan ended in 2020,” Shannon Sandefur, who has been director of the library since last April. “I started this position without an active strategic plan. I discussed with the board in the interview process that (developing a new strategic plan) would be one of the first things I would have to address.
henderson news:Tyson Foods to Eliminate 200 Jobs at Robards, Kentucky Plant
“It’s just (like preparing to go) on vacation: you have to determine a destination,” he said. “This strategic plan will do that.”
He noted that the previous five-year strategic plan “led to the recently completed renovation and expansion project that doubled the size of the library building.”
Sandefur acknowledges that books are the first, and sometimes only, thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of a public library.
“We want to change that perception,” he said. “We are more than books. Our mission statement says that we provide ‘access to information and opportunities for lifelong learning’, as well as economic and cultural enrichment and recreational enjoyment.
“There are so many ways to learn besides books,” Sandefur said. “We want to make sure the public is informed of that.”
For example, the HCPL offers programs ranging from basic technology classes to “fun shows like Lethal Library, where once a month we listen to a true crime podcast and participants try to figure out who did it.”
henderson news:Henderson Police Department Chief Heath Cox announces his retirement
The library offers story hours for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in its children’s department (“We want young people to start introducing a love of reading and a love of libraries so that it’s lifelong”), Sandefur said, as well as “a great teen show and game show” in the teen department.
The HCPL also offers movies and television shows on DVD and Blu-ray; large print and audio books; print and online genealogical resources; access to current magazines and newspapers; access to historic newspaper articles from across the country through Newspapers.com; documents and artifacts from local history; staff-produced historical exhibits; original art exhibits curated by the Ohio Valley Art League; meeting rooms for up to 135 people on the top floor of the new Preston Family Foundation Annex, and more.
“Libraries just have to get creative,” he said. “We have to be relevant and stay relevant.”
The library is also awaiting the arrival of a computer network team and the hiring of a qualified staff member to open its fabrication lab, which will include tools such as 3D printers, a laser engraver/cutter, a vinyl printer/cutter, a banner printer, a Cricut cutting tool, a recording booth for making podcasts and other projects, Adobe and Corel Draw creative software.
It’s enough? Is the library missing something?
HCPL’s community vision sessions could help answer that.
The sessions, facilitated by Leadership Everyone in Evansville, which has years of experience conducting visioning sessions, will last two hours. They will be similar to the recent regional VOICE sessions held by Leadership Everyone at various locations in Henderson, but will be centered in the library.
Sessions are open to all ages, including children.
The sessions “are not just for library users,” Sandefur said. “If you don’t use the library, why not?”
Scheduled sessions include:
- Tuesday, January 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the library, 100 S. Main St.
- Tuesday, February 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Greater Norris Chapel Baptist Church, 937 Washington St.
- Wednesday, February 23 at 8:30 am in the library.
Those interested in participating are asked to sign up on the date of their choice on the library’s online calendar at hcpl.evanced.info/signup.
“We will also develop a survey … to send it to a place where you can complete it online,” Sandefur said.
Viewing sessions are intended both to reach the community and to bring the community to the library.
“Our vision statement says we’re going to ‘connect the entire community’” with resources, services and ideas, he said. “To do that, we have to think beyond our walls. We have to meet the community and bring everyone to the table.”