With the Highland Park Library collecting public input for a 10-year master plan, town resident Wylly Goodson has expressed concern about technology.
“To me, the library is like the sacred place you can still go to that isn’t inundated with technology,” Goodson said. “I love the fact that our library is an oasis of calm and quiet.”
Goodson was among those speaking up during a public meeting on the library. Others have given input through focus groups and a survey conducted online at hplibrary.info and on paper with copies available at the library and town hall.
Town librarian Kortney Nelson said the survey would close on or before Jan. 31.
The Ivy Group, the town’s contractor for the endeavor, expects the extensive planning work to begin in February.
At the public meeting, Elizabeth Jones, 75, also spoke about technology, saying her town needed to reconcile concerns such as Goodson’s with the importance of community engagement. She recommended the library use technology like the Mango app for language learning as a draw to bring people together in groups to converse and read books in different languages.
“We have to get people into the library,” Jones said, “and just by having books isn’t going to work.”
“One thing I think that’s emerging from the strategic planning process is that communications are going to be a priority,” said Pam Fitzgerald, who founded the Charlottesville, Virginia, marketing firm The Ivy Group 28 years ago. Fitzgerald has worked on such plans for many public libraries, a few of which are in cities as varied as Brooklyn, Boston, San Antonio, Frisco, and Tulsa.
The Ivy Group led several focus group sessions, including ones with Highland Park ISD sixth-through eighth-grade students. Fitzgerald said there were some particularly exciting ideas to come from those sessions, such as having graduates of specific colleges come to the library to talk to students, and the library purchasing the expensive Adobe suite of programs so that students can get experience with a range of tools professionals now use that may be cost-prohibitive.
Mickey Wardlaw, a Highland Park resident who also is a member of the Friends of the University Park Library, is interested in seeing the town’s library become a “community meet and greet center” to strengthen community bonds and take on tasks such as cultural education.
“The University Park library does a lot more of that than Highland Park,” Wardlaw said, attributing that in part to limited parking in Highland Park.
Mayor Joel William agreed the town could do more.
“We should be providing more services to our senior citizens,” he said. “We don’t do a very good job of that, and your council should take the blame.”