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Delta County Libraries drafts strategic plan

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In July 2016, Delta County Libraries began the systematic process of developing a strategic plan that will set priorities and define the direction of library operations for the next three years. The first meeting, on Friday, July 15, included library board members and administrative staff, with Jaqueline Murphy from the Colorado State Library acting as facilitator. The goal of the meeting was to review key components of the strategic planning process and decide on steps for moving forward. Murphy, senior consultant for Public Libraries and Community Relations, felt that the first meeting was a success. "I was really impressed with the engagement level and positive energy of this group."

Delta County Libraries then focused its efforts on preparing for a subsequent meeting on Aug. 19. Administrative staff worked with facilitator and local business consultant, Dave Knutson of Orion Rising, LLC, to prepare the agenda and presentation items as well as sending invitations to board members, library staff and representatives from various library support groups. "We also invited members of the community to participate in the process," said Lea Hart, district director for Delta County Libraries. "We knew that the input and expertise gathered would be highly valuable in creating a strong plan that will best serve the needs of the community."

The goal of the Aug. 19 meeting was to identify community needs and set priorities by gathering feedback from attendees. In the first hour, administrative staff highlighted relevant background information and data for Delta County Libraries.The presentations covered the Colorado Public Library standards of facilities, human resources, services and programming, collections, technology, community engagement, marketing and finance.

After the presentations, participants broke into smaller groups to share ideas and give feedback about what they want to see more or less of in each standard that was presented. From the information that was gathered and reviewed, each group was able to pinpoint their top priorities to be considered in the strategic plan. Overwhelmingly in agreement, each group identified community engagement, staffing and funding as key areas of focus moving forward.

Nathan Sponseller, president of the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce and VP of operations for Delta County Federal Credit Union in Hotchkiss, was one of the community representatives in attendance. "While I have long been an advocate for the library system, I had not previously participated in any internal planning discussions," Sponseller stated. "I was impressed by how well the strategic planning session was organized, how efficiently it was run and was wowed by the quality of the ideas shared by participants. While the library system has challenges to address, this session left me feeling very positive about the future of our libraries in Delta County."

A task force assembled soon after the August meeting to oversee the process of drafting a written strategic plan. The first draft of the plan was reviewed by administrative staff on Tuesday, Sept. 6. When a final plan has been approved and adopted by the library board it will be presented to the public.

Laura Earley, president of the Delta County Library Board, is enthusiastic about the work that has been done so far. "It is my hope is that this strategic plan will help our libraries to not only serve as places to access information in a variety of ways but also ensure they are valued and supported assets which are responsive to the needs of our communities."

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